31 Incredible Natural Health Benefits of Ashwagandha

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The benefits of Ashwagandha on the human body is vast. It is an adaptogenic herb at the heart of the ancient Ayurveda alternative health system that has amazing anti-cancer, stress reducing, and other vital elements for biological healing.

Ashwagandha – the most vital herb in Ayurveda is nature’s gift to mankind. Read on to know its various benefits, uses, side effects and precautions.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a short woody shrub belonging to the Solanaceae family. It’s native to the Indian subcontinent but is also found in the Middle East and North Africa. The plant bears small flowers and berry like fruits. The flowers have a central yellow section and light green petals that look like mini leaves. The seeds are small in size, have a berry like appearance and are less than 1 cm in diameter. The roots have a long and thick structure, similar to the shape of a carrot.

Ashwagandha is a central component in Ayurveda. It has been used for more than 3,000 years in Ayurveda, the oldest medical system in the world. The name ‘Ashwagandha’ comes from the Sanskrit language. It is the combination of the word ‘ashva’ meaning horse and ‘gandha’ that means smell. It is believed that Ashwagandha gives the strength and vitality of a horse. It is described as ‘Indian ginseng’ in Unaani and Ayurvedic medicine. It is also used in African medicine for a variety of ailments.

Ashwagandha Benefits

The benefits of Ashwagandha have been split into 3 sections of health, skin and hair for more convenient reading!

Ashwagandha Health Benefits:

There are several health benefits of ashwagandha. They are as follows:

1. Immunity System:

While this short and stout plant has a plethora of benefits, the most widely recognized benefit of ashwagandha is its ability to boost the immune system. Several studies have revealed that it increases the production of white blood cells in the body. Thus, it helps to ward off diseases and illness. It’s the best herbal medicine to help rebuild the internal system after illness.

2. As An Aphrodisiac:

Ashwagandha is prescribed by Ayurvedic practitioners to treat concerns related to sexuality and infertility. It restores male libido, cures impotence and increases the sperm count in men. It is widely used in Southern Asia as sexuality enhancing tonic. It also improves the overall health and stamina, leading to better sexual performance. Further, the herb calms the mind to elevate a person’s mood, increasing sexual desire and performance.

3. Adaptogen:

Ashwagandha is used as an adaptogen to help the body in coping with stress and changing situations. This non-toxic herb works on a nonspecific basis to normalize phsychological function, working on the neuro-endocrine system and the HPA axis.

4. Helps With Sleep:

Ashwagandha is very effective in treating insomnia. Its rejuvenating and nervine properties produce energy which help the body in getting a sound sleep. It rejuvenates the nervous system, eases stress and erases insomnia.

5. Heart Health:

Ashwagandha boosts cardiac health and reduces the risk of malfunctioning of the heart caused by several factors. It improves blood circulation in the heart, thus, preventing blood clotting. It stabilizes blood sugar and controls the cholesterol. It also helps to maintain blood pressure levels in the body.

6. Stress Reliever:

Ashwagandha has remarkable stress-relieving properties. Pre-mature ageing associated with chronic nervous tensions may lead to increased production of oxidative stress. This oxidative stress is abolished successfully by the potent antioxidants present in ashwagandha. The stress relieving properties of ashwagandha are comparable to the medicines used to treat depression and anxiety. It is also used in tranquilizers and anti-depressants drugs.

7. Nervous System:

Ashwagandha protects the brain cells from the deleterious effects of the environment. It is a promising alternative treatment for a variety of mental degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Ashwagandha supports significant regeneration of axons and dendrites of the nerve cells. Its extracts support the reconstruction of synapses, the junction where nerve cells communicate with other cells. This makes ashwagandha a potential healer for nervous degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. It also promotes the growth of both normal and damaged nerve cells.

8. Anxiety:

A study concluded that ashwagandha can successfully reduce symptoms of anxiety and neurosis in patients. It acts like GABA to reduce anxiety and panic attacks.

9. Antioxidants:

Ashwagandha contains compounds which possess strong antioxidant properties. It destroys free radicals in the body which pose one of the major reasons for several diseases in the body. This helps prevent the growth of tumors and other debilitating diseases in the body.

10. Anti-Inflammatory Properties:

Ashwagandha possesses significant anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it very beneficial for treating osteoporosis. It eases the pain and disability associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Ashwagandha oil, when applied to the areas affected by rheumatic inflammation, can provide quick relief.

[Read:Benefits Of Fenugreek]

11. Cancer:

Recent evidences suggest that ashwagandha has the potential to inhibit cancer cells. Ashwagandha extract disrupts the cancer cells ability to reproduce – a key step in fighting cancer. It also possesses anti-antigenic properties which prevents the cancer from forming new blood vessels to support its unbridled growth. It also normalizes the immune suppressing effects of chemotherapy.

12. Infections:

The roots of ashwagandha have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties which are beneficial for warding off infection. Extracts of ashwagandha can relieve pain and secretion in women caused due to vaginal infections. It also helps to cure uterine infections and inflammation.

13. Blood Sugar Levels:

Ashwagandha helps to regulate blood sugar levels which aids in suppressing sugar cravings. This makes it very beneficial in treating type 2 diabetes.

14. Food Poisoning:

The anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties of ashwagandha protect against potentially dangerous bacteria called salmonella, an organism associated with food poisoning.

15. Strength and Vigor:

Ashwagandha restores strength and vigor in those lacking in dynamism and energy. It stimulates the immune system and promotes the healthy functioning of the organism. It is extremely useful for patients suffering from rheumatic fever or tuberculosis.

By Neha.Vindhya (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons<br /><br />

Withania

By Neha.Vindhya (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Ashwagandha Skin Benefits:

16. Fights Signs Of Aging:

Ashwagandha contains high levels of antioxidants which savage the free radicals to fight the signs of ageing like wrinkles, dark spots, fine lines and blemishes. It also protects from skin cancer.

17. Healing Wounds:

It is very useful for treating and healing wounds. The leaves of this plant provide a healing poultice which quickly heals the wounds. Grind ashwagandha roots and make a smooth paste with water. Apply this paste topically on the wounds for relief.

18. Treats Rough And Dry Skin:

Ashwagandha is useful for treating keratitis, a condition that leads to rough and dry skin. Consume three grams of ashwagandha with water twice a day to get rid of this skin condition.

19. Reduces Cortisol Levels:

High levels of cortisol hormone in the body can wreak havoc on the skin. It inhibits the production of structural protein necessary for healthy skin. Ashwagandha is proven to reduce cortisol and increase DHEA, a hormone precursor to estrogen and testosterone.

20. Stimulates Collagen Production:

Ashwagandha contains steroidal compounds that can increase estrogen levels in the body. DHEA and estrogen helps to keep the skin stay youthful by stimulating collagen production and increasing natural skin oils.

21. Used As A Skin Toner:

You can prepare ashwagandha skin toner to keep the skin healthy. Take 1 teaspoon of dried ginger, 2 teaspoons of dried ashwagandha root and 1 teaspoon of dried lemon peel. Boil all these ingredients in 200ml water and use this infusion as a toner to get a supple and glowing skin.

22. Fights Inflammation Of Skin:

Ayurveda healers have long advised the use of ashwagandha for inflammatory skin disorders, including acne. It contains compounds known as withanolides whose extracts inhibit S. aureus bacteria, a major cause of skin Inflammation.

Ashwagandha Hair Benefits:

23. Controls Hair Fall:

Stress is one of the major causes of hair fall in both men and women. Ashwagandha controls hair fall by reducing cortisol levels in the body.

24. Promotes Hair Health:

Ashwagandha improves digestion and flushes off toxins from the body, thereby, promoting the health of hair.

25. Prevents Premature Greying:

Aswagandha inhibits the loss of melanin in the hair to prevent premature greying. It contains tyrosine, an amino acid, which stimulates the production of melanin in the body. The antioxidants in ashwagandha effectively prevent the corrosion of tissue, reducing the possibility of premature greying.

26. Stimulates Hair Follicles:

Ashwagandha is also used in herbal shampoos and conditioners to stimulate the hair follicles and maintain the health of the hair.

27. Removes Infections:

Regular intake of ashwagandha strengthens the immune system and aids the body in getting rid of infections and diseases. This promotes the overall health of the body, including the health of the hair.

28. Activates Hair Follicles:

Ahwagandha improves the blood circulation in the scalp and activates hair follicles, accelerating hair growth.

29. Fights Hair Loss:

Ashwagandha is also useful for combating androgenic alopecia, commonly known as balding. It helps in ameliorating metabolic syndrome, a health condition which causes premature balding. Therefore the Ashwagandha hair loss solutions are extremely popular.

30. Prevents Breakage:

Ashwagandha contains high amounts of antioxidants which protect our bodies from cell damaging free radicals. Thus, regular consumption of ashwagandha strengthens hair, making it stronger and less prone to breakage.

31. Treats Dandruff And Other Skin Conditions: The anti-inflammatory properties of ashwagandha are useful for treating scalp conditions like dandruff, scalp psoriasis and eczema.

Ashwagandha: Nutritional Value

Ashwagandha is rich in iron, antioxidants, tannins, potassium, nitrate, fatty acids and glucose. It also contains steroidal alkaloids – sominine, somniferine, withanolides and anferine. It is a rich source of flavonoids, acyl steryl glucosides and lactones.

Uses of Ashwagandha:

Ashwagandha is used as a potent adaptogen for therapeutic purposes in Ayurveda. It is considered a potent ‘medhya rasayanam’ herb. This implies that it rejuvenates the Ayurveda aspects of the mind- memory, recollection and comprehension.

The root and berries of ashwagandha are used to prepare tonics and capsules. A water based tincture of ashwagandha is also used as a medicine. But, the active ingredients in ashwagandha tend to degrade in potency when used in its tincture form. Hence, the powder form is more preferred than the tincture. In addition to its medicinal use, ashwagandha is also consumed in the form of tea. Dried ashwagandha root is boiled with tea for 15 minutes for a refreshing drink. Ashwagandha in the form of capsules and liquid has become widespread now. It is available in herbal health stores and through holistic supply sources throughout the world.

Side-effects of Ashwagandha:

There are no such debilitating side-effects of ashwagandha but it may give rise to some health problems if consumed in high quantities. It is possible that after a week of consumption, you may feel a sudden rise in body temperature. It may also cause a drop in temperature, leading to cold, chest pain and running nose. The side-effects of ashwagandha on its over consumption are mentioned here as below:

1. Ashwagandha possesses diuretic properties that can cause kidney lesions in some cases. It may also cause diarrhea if taken in high amounts. Severe abdominal pain may also occur in case of high dosage.

2. Ashwagandha possesses immune stimulant properties, rendering it unfit for people suffering from auto-immune diseases like HIV and AIDS.

3. Ashwagandha should not be consumed by patients undergoing an organ transplant as it may prolong the recovery time.

4. Ashwagandha is never prescribed for pregnant women and nursing mothers as it may interfere with the nutrition that the baby receives. It may also cause intestinal problems in pregnant women.

5. Ashwagandha, if used with other sedatives and tranquilizing medicines can be very harmful to the body. In extreme cases, ashwagandha can also lead to life-threatening anaphylaxis.

6. Another possible side effect of ashwagandha is sudden weight gain.

7. Using ashwagandha on its own is not recommended. It should be consumed in conjunction with other herbs to counter its strong rejuvenating properties.

8. Patients suffering from lupus and multiple sclerosis should avoid consuming ashwagandha as it may give rise to severe health problems.

9. Other possible side effects of ashwagandha include respiratory problems, decrease in blood pressure and abnormal heart rhythms.

Therefore, it is advisable to always consult a heath care professional before consuming ashwagandha.

Ashwagandha in Combination with Other Plants:

Ashwagandha can be combined with several other plants due to its numerous benefits. It works extremely well with goji berry, rhodiola. ginseng, tribulus, gingko biloba, thyme, eucalyptus, cannabis, turmeric, liquorice and several others.

Dosage:

The general dosage of this plant is around 4 – 5 grams a day. Ashwagandha is often sold in the form of capsules. Take 1-2 two capsules every day in the evening. For preparing infusion and decoction, take 2 grams of dried root for one infusion. Boil the plant for 15 minutes and leave it to infuse for 10 minutes. Do not consume more than 2 cups of decoction per day.Thus, ashwagandha has embalming properties and natural powers to heal the body and spirit.

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