Ayurvedic Herb Spotlight: ASHWAGANDHA
WHAT IS ASHWAGANDHA?
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) also known as Indian Ginseng or Winter Cherry, is one of the most important herbs in Indian Ayurvedic medicine. Root and leaf extracts have been used for thousands of years for various health benefits.This plant is considered a rasayana, meaning it promotes longevity and vitality. It is commonly used for the “vata” dosha because of its grounding, calming and restorative benefits. Ashwagandha is also an adaptogen containing high levels of Withanolides. Various medical studies have shown its diverse properties.
Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Ashwagandha is best known as a stress reducer. According to several controlled studies, it can successfully reduce the symptoms of stress and anxiety disorders.
Ashwagandha helps decrease inflammation. Studies have found that Ashwagandha increases the activity of natural killer cells fighting infection and decreases inflammation. Ashwagandha can relieve joint pain, swelling and discomfort in healthy patients. Powdered root can be applied topically.
Ashwagandha promotes the death of tumor cells and may fight multiple types of cancer. In a small study of breast cancer patients, ashwagandha alleviated chemotherapy-induced fatigue and improved quality of life. "In laboratory studies, ashwagandha reduced growth of breast, central nervous system, colon, and lung cancer cells." - Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Balances Cortisol Levels
Ashwagandha has been shown to promote healthy levels of cortisol and the inflammatory processes that are stimulated in the response to stress. Similarly, studies have shown that Ashwagandha may help reduce cortisol levels in chronically stressed adults, and healthy levels can free up resources in the body used for reproductive hormones, as well.
Ashwagandha may help improve heart health and prevent heart disease by reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It is also rich in iron.
Ashwagandha supplements may improve brain function, memory, reaction times and the ability to perform tasks. Research has shown that it promotes antioxidant activity that protects nerve cells from harmful free radicals. It is also considered to be a neuro-supportive and nootropic herb. Ashwagandha naturally stimulates the pathways in the brain to promote calmness, and several studies have shown that Ashwagandha supports healthy sleep.
Sources and Studies:
Healthline - www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-proven-ashwagandha-benefits
Gaia Herbs - blog.gaiaherbs.com/2017/08/11/the-essential-guide-to-ashwagandha-everything-you-need-to-know/
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center - www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/ashwagandha
Medical Disclaimer: The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.