Ashwagandha & Its Herbal Benefits
Ashwagandha, (Withania somnifera), also known as Indian Ginseng or Winter Cherry, is an incredible medicinal herb native to India and North Africa. It’s classified as an "adaptogen," meaning that it can help the body manage stress, amongst numerous other benefits.
Ashwagandha is known for its properties of assisting in lowering blood sugar levels, reducing cortisol, boosting brain function, helping fight symptoms of anxiety and depression, boosting testosterone and fertility in men, improving strength and muscle mass, and reducing inflammation.
The benefits of Ashwagandha Supplementation
One of the most important herbs in Ayurveda, Ashwagandha benefits have been observed over time which has lead to it being used for over 3,000 years to relieve stress, boost energy levels and improve focus. Many of its health benefits are attributed to its high concentration of withanolides, known for its ability to fight inflammation and tumor growth. Now that’s a hard-working herb.
Other benefits of Ashwagandha have been noted in multiple studies. Ashwagandha herbs properties have been shown to lower blood sugar levels in several studies. One test-tube study found that ashwagandha increased insulin secretion and improved insulin sensitivity in muscle cells. Several human studies have also confirmed the advantages of ashwagandha plants ability to reduce blood sugar levels in those with and without diabetes. These studies helped signify some of the ashwagandha’s uses and benefits.
In a small study of six people, each supplemented with ashwagandha dosage for 30 days, resulting in lowered fasting blood sugar levels, just as effectively as oral diabetes medication.
Beyond these studies, both animal and test-tube studies have shown that the herb, ashwagandha impedes the growth of new cancer, in more ways than one. It helps prompt apoptosis, the programmed death of cancer cells. Ashwaghadna is believed to support the disrupt the function of cancer cells, by promoting the formation of reactive oxygen species.
Animal studies suggest it could play a role in treating several forms of cancer, including breast, lung, colon, brain and ovarian. In one study, mice with ovarian tumors ashwagandha alone or in combination with an anti-cancer drug had a 70–80% reduction in tumor growth. Not only did it inhibit tumor growth, but the treatment also prevented the spread of cancer to other organs.
Ashwagandhas benefits with Stress
Ashwagandha’s seemingly magical properties don’t stop there! This herbal supplement has also been seen to help reduce stress. Cortisol, aka the “stress hormone” is released in the adrenal glands in response to stress, as well as when your blood sugar levels get too low. In some instances, cortisol levels can become chronically elevated, resulting in high blood sugar levels, and increased fat storage by your body. Studies have shown that the addition of supplementation of ashwagandha may help decrease cortisol levels. One study composed of chronically stressed adults showed that those who supplemented with the herb had significantly greater decreases in cortisol, in comparison to the control group. Those taking the highest dose, on average saw a 30% reduction, which is potentially due to the benefits of ashwagandha.
A separate study observed 64 people with chronic stress, over a 60-day period. Those in the ashwagandha’s supplemental group reported a 69% average reduction in anxiety and insomnia, compared to 11% in the placebo group.
Ashwagandha benefits regarding Inflammation & Testosterone
Ashwagandha’s uses & benefits don’t stop there. It may also have strong effects on testosterone levels and reproductive health. In a single study of 75 men, not only did the supplemented group experienced increased sperm count and motility but a notable increase in testosterone levels. Researches additionally reported that the group taking ashwagandha had higher antioxidant levels in their blood.
According to several animal studies, ashwagandha uses also helps decrease inflammation, while studies in humans have found that it increases the activity of natural killer cells.
Natural killer cells are like spies for your body; they are immune cells that fight infection and help you stay healthy.
Chinese Ginseng is often referred to as a panacea, or “heal-all.” Ashwagandha also seems to fit this description. With its significant and varying amount of health benefits and medicinal uses, ashwagandha is a superherb and it’s truly a medicine worth taking a closer look at, on your journey to better wellbeing.