Herbal medicine has been traditionally used in Indian culture and society. Living according to the principles of Ayurveda is a lifestyle that promotes overall health and well-being. By examining bodies, eating patterns, and other components carefully helps to increase wellness.
We respect Ayurvedic medicines and treatment techniques, but a few Ayurvedic herbs have been highly praised worldwide. One of the most renowned herbs used in Ayurveda is Ashwagandha.
For a long time, Indian medicines passed down from generation to generation use the root powder of the Ashwagandha plant. Ashwagandha benefits as a medicine and a nutritional supplement. Nevertheless, there is a need for a greater level of detailed investigation in this region. In the meantime, we have uncovered some data about this remarkable herb for you. Read to find out.
What is Ashwagandha?
Withania somnifera or ashwagandha has many names. Notable varieties of Indian herbs include Ashwagandha, Kutki, Chhoti Harad, and Nagfani, as well as Poison Gooseberries, Iciness Cherries, and others. It’s also classified as a Rasayana, a nutrient that helps increase lifespan and energy. This is a species from the Solanaceae family, commonly known as nightshade. Several species within the genus Withania are morphologically similar. Somnifera is a Latin word that means sleep-inducing.
Ashwagandha has been referenced in past medical records and is renowned for its therapeutic properties. ‘Ashwa’ means horse, and ‘Gandha’ means smell in Sanskrit. Thus, it can be inferred that this herb has a scent that is similar to a horse. The title implies that the plant gives off the strength and vitality of a horse. Typically, it is employed to enhance immunity after a sickness.
Ashwagandha, nicknamed ‘Rasayana,’ is thought to have the power to mentally and physically maintain youth. The plant-based compound’s primary chemical components are withanolides, a type of triterpene lactone. Furthermore, it contains withaferin A, alkaloids, steroidal lactones, tropine, and cuscohygrine.
This herb’s roots have been utilized in the past to treat various issues such as stress, anxiety, constipation, and difficulty sleeping. Furthermore, the leaves, seeds, and fruits can be utilized to cure diseases.
It is an adaptogenic herb and an aphrodisiac. This plant is sometimes referred to as Indian ginseng due to its power to revitalize. However, botanically, ashwagandha and ginseng are not related.
This shrub, which stays green all year long, is found in India, the Middle East, and some parts of Africa. Ashwagandha is native to arid parts of India, Nepal, China, and Yemen. The plant grows in dry stony soil. This plant is a short, soft-lived bush reaching between 35 and 75 centimeters. The leaves have a muted green hue and are oval-shaped. In contrast, the flowers are small, green, and bell-shaped.
Ashwagandha is from the same plant family as the tomato. The plant produces red fruits that are similar in size to a raisin. It can be grown from seed or greenwood cuttings. If you have the seed, then it must be planted at the beginning of spring. You can plant greenwood cuttings later in the spring. It is imperative to monitor the plant carefully since it is vulnerable to illnesses.
WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR BODY WHEN YOU’RE STRESSED
Selye’s General Adaptation Syndrome theory describes three reactions that are activated when a stressor initiates the stress response.
Selye’s model of the stress response illustrates excellently how ashwagandha can reduce one’s stress levels. Nonetheless, there are alternate approaches to understanding the stress response.
THE ALARM STAGE (AKA FIGHT OR FLIGHT)
When confronted with a cheetah in pursuit, slamming on the brakes to stop a prospective collision, or getting involved in a disagreement in the workplace, your body will naturally go into an alarming state.
You can experience the effects of the fight-or-flight response due to the rush of adrenaline, epinephrine, and cortisol in your body. Your nerves give a sensation of a stomach lurch, and your body parts buzzing is what your autonomic nervous system is doing.
When everything is occurring, your body prevents your organs from functioning properly, commonly by using the vagal nerve pathways. It’s getting energy reserves ready to respond to the source of pressure. Your pulse races, and your pupils widen, both of which assist you in evading or fleeing from the scary situation.
When the cause of stress is brief, you can return to a normal state of being shortly after it has ceased. When you have continual, low-level stress, you find yourself filled with exhaustion, the consequences of which will be covered shortly.
THE STATE OF RESISTANCE
Once the state of resistance is reached, the source of stress is gone, or, at the least, the danger of it is eliminated. Now is the period when your systems are attempting to return to equilibrium. The body breaks down and gets rid of any stress hormones that it doesn’t require.
Think of this as the “coming down” phase. Even though your body tries to relax, it is still in a heightened state of readiness. You may be irritable or forgetful.
THE EXHAUSTION PHASE
Chances are, you’ve felt exhaustion after intense times. The system can become depleted of energy due to the stress response.
When enduring prolonged, minor levels of tension, you will detect its effects emotionally and in other ways. For instance, when anxious, your digestion decreases, which leads to intestinal upset down the line. You could be completely exhausted with feeble strength, or you may even weaken your immunity. Yikes.
ASHWAGANDHA USES FOR STRESS AND OVERALL WELLNESS
Adaptogens such as ashwagandha influence all three principal reactions to stress. They raise the amount of stimulus necessary to trigger the stress reaction, saving you need to have the alarm response to moments truly needed.
After the period of anxiety has passed, adaptogens help to break down the stress hormones and eliminate them from the body. They provide you with the energy you need to recover from fatigue and maintain optimal performance.
Here’s how that translates to ashwagandha benefits:
SUPPORTS THE ADRENAL GLANDS
Stress and the adrenal glands are inextricably connected. The adrenal glands secrete cortisol, a stress hormone released more speedily than other stress hormones such as adrenaline. Releasing cortisol continually can damage your well-being, so it’s necessary to regulate your cortisol levels and limit stress levels.
Stress which remains constant, can lead to adrenal exhaustion, resulting in a change in the size of the adrenal gland and a disruption in the creation of aldosterone, a hormone produced by the adrenal gland.
Additionally, ashwagandha has been shown to support the adrenals in a few different ways:
- Helps the hypothalamic, pituitary, and adrenal (HPA) glands communicate effectively. When the HPA axis isn’t working in sync, your stress response can become trigger-happy, or your body could respond with an intensity that doesn’t match the situation.
- Acts on the adrenals to support normal testosterone levels. Additionally, thyroid hormones—which regulate digestion, muscle, and heart function—can be impacted by low adrenal function.
- Prevents stress-induced vitamin C depletion in the adrenals. The adrenals use up a huge percentage of our total vitamin C. If the adrenals don’t have the vitamin C they need, they aren’t able to regulate cortisol production, which results in too much or too little. Cortisol dysregulation can start a cycle of stress response and improper cortisol production.†
IT MAY HELP MAINTAIN HEALTHY BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS ALREADY IN THE NORMAL RANGE†
In a test tube experiment, ashwagandha was found to be beneficial for improving insulin sensitivity in muscle cells. This can be an advantage in tension situations, as having a balanced glucose level in your blood allows you to focus on all your other tasks. You do not have to disrupt your routines by consuming food multiple times, and you won’t be challenged by abrupt dips in energy as the day goes on.
Supplements like MCT oil are so helpful because they don’t cause a surge in blood sugar levels like sugar and other carbohydrates, resulting in an even energy level. When you are even-tempered, you handle life better and feel less overwhelmed by it.
MAY IMPROVE SEXUAL FUNCTION
The investigators discovered that taking ashwagandha had a beneficial effect on sexual performance in women who were not suffering from any medical issues when compared to a placebo.
It is possible that the popularity of ashwagandha could be attributed to the various physical advantages it offers, or it may be because of its ability to reduce stress. Female sexual dysfunction is largely rooted in its association with mental pressure.
MAY SUPPORT BRAIN FUNCTION
It is clear that intermittent psychological issues can greatly heighten the stress reaction. Ashwagandha may help here, too. Research showed that rats’ emotional states improved when they were given ashwagandha supplements.
MAY SUPPORT WEIGHT MANAGEMENT
Adults subjected to constant stress may find relief from Ashwagandha with regard to body weight control. It is difficult to tell if the reduction in stress resulting from this research assists in the decrease in weight or if the ashwagandha plays a role in fat metabolism without additional studies.
It’s obvious that ashwagandha aids in responding to stress, so if you handle your stress properly, it will help you control your weight.
Reduces Anxiety and Depression
Ashwagandha lowers tribulin, which is an indicator of anxiety recognized by doctors. It also has an antidepressant effect like imipramine. The utilization of ashwagandha as a mood regulator in clinical situations of anxiety and depression is widely recognized.
Investigations have been restricted but have suggested that ashwagandha may be effective in lessening depression. Furthermore, it assists in soothing the central nervous system.
Early studies suggest that ashwagandha might be beneficial in alleviating symptoms related to certain ailments. No definitive proof exists with regards to how effective ashwagandha is as a standalone treatment for these issues.
Illnesses such as Rheumatoid arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Tuberculosis, Ulcerations, and other medical issues are included. The pain-relieving action lowers the intensity of pain and impairments.
How To Consume Ashwagandha Powder?
Ashwagandha can be found in shops in root, tablet, and powder forms. The powder should be blended with either water, ghee, or honey before it can be ingested.
It boosts the capabilities of the brain and nerves and boosts recollection. Moreover, it improves the performance of the reproductive organs, fostering nutritious sexual and reproductive harmony. In addition, due to its strong adaptogenic properties, it boosts the body’s ability to cope with stress.
Here are some other ways you can consume ashwagandha powder.
Toast one ounce of Ashwagandha powder in ghee and blend it with a tablespoon of date-based sugar. Have a bite of this about 20 minutes before you eat breakfast or during the day with a glass of milk.
Mixing Ashwagandha powder with clarified butter, sugar, and honey is a delicious way to use an aphrodisiac and help with erectile dysfunction.
The Kishirpaka technique of brewing Ashwagandha tea has gained significant notoriety. Brewing ashwagandha tea involves simmering the powder in milk until the amount of liquid is reduced by half. You can sweeten the taste by adding sugar or adding the same amount of licorice to make it more potent while boiling.
Ashwagandha Side Effects
It is safe to take Ashwagandha, provided the dosage is correct. The long-term effects of this herb remain unknown, yet there have been no reports of anyone experiencing fatal or serious side effects from it. Some people might experience vomiting, diarrhea, or an upset stomach when they consume high amounts of ashwagandha. The reactions to the herb vary from individual to individual. Discuss the usage of ashwagandha or its supplements with your healthcare provider before taking them. There have been reports of adverse reactions such as skin burning and discoloration, drowsiness, extreme liver damage, an overactive thyroid, and elevated testosterone levels.
Women expecting or nursing should avoid consuming ashwagandha because research indicates that the herb could result in premature birth or losing the baby. No research has been done to determine the impact of ashwagandha on nursing mothers. It is best to be cautious and avoid taking it.
Ashwagandha has been shown to reduce blood glucose levels, reduce high blood pressure, and modify thyroid hormone concentrations. Despite the potential advantages, ashwagandha could be harmful to those with regular blood sugar levels since it could cause a reduction of their blood sugar level and potentially cause hypoglycemia in people who take medications. This can have an impact on both one’s blood pressure and thyroid hormone amount as well.
As ashwagandha stimulates the immune system, it could potentially exacerbate the symptoms of auto-immune disorders. In some people, ashwagandha can irritate the gastrointestinal tract. It would be advisable to discontinue the use of ashwagandha for a period of at least two weeks prior to and following an operation, as it may decrease the activity of the central nervous system. The use of alcohol or drugs that create a state of sedation should not be combined with taking Ashwagandha.
Ashwagandha provides advantages to the wellness of both sexes. No substantial clinical research exists at present to back up this claim. Ashwagandha has been employed in Ayurvedic medicine as a successful treatment for multiple diseases. Ashwagandha should not be taken unless you have discussed it with your doctor, and in moderate amounts due to a lack of evidence of its potential risks or positive outcomes.