Withania somnifera is a plant in the nightshade family native to the Indian subcontinent. It is more commonly referred to as ashwagandha, Indian ginseng, or winter cherry (not to be confused with Physalis alkekengi).
It is a fairly small shrub with small, pale green flowers, single leaves, and red berries. It is shaped like a tuberous root, carrot, or ginger. It also has a distinctive smell, described as horseback riding, hence its name, ashwagandha; Ashwa is Sanskrit for horse and gandha for the smell. As one of its qualities is that it strengthens, it is also said that it gives strength to the stallion.
It has always been revered in Ayurveda and other traditional medicine practices. It is rapidly gaining popularity again, as scientific studies prove what traditional medicine has always said about the plant’s many medicinal properties.
Most of the health benefits of ashwagandha come from the root and leaves. The leaves are most often used in teas. The root can be taken in several ways, but it is currently dried, powdered, and taken as a supplement.
Used to treat arthritis, anxiety, insomnia, tumors, tuberculosis, asthma, leukoderma (a skin condition characterized by white patches), bronchitis, back pain, fibromyalgia, menstrual problems, hiccups and chronic liver disease, stress, concentration, endurance, and strengthening.
Health Benefits of Ashwagandha
The research was carried out on the plant and it was found to have several of these healing properties. It was found that:
Lowers blood sugar levels
The addition of ashwagandha has been shown to increase insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity and thus lower blood sugar levels in people with and without diabetes.
Many experiments have shown that ashwagandha is a powerful cancer medicine. It has been found to reduce the growth of new cancer cells and induce death in pre-existing cancer cells. Most of these findings have been made in animal studies and have yet to be tested in humans, but the data looks promising for the treatment of various types of cancer. An experiment in mice revealed a 70 to 80 percent reduction in tumor growth and complete inhibition of metastasis to other organs compared to untreated controls. The study was conducted by the NCBI, the National Library of Medicine in the United States.
Improves heart health
It has been found to significantly reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood. Animal and human studies have confirmed this, although the effect is much stronger in animals than in humans. Still, it reduced cholesterol levels by an average of 17 percent and triglyceride levels by an average of 11 percent in a 60-day study of adults with chronic stress.
Our immunity wears down daily by various factors, and in these modern times, these are often intrinsic factors such as stress, inflammation, and lack of sleep. By improving all of this and increasing overall physical health and stamina, ashwagandha has dramatically improved our immunity. It has also been shown to enhance the activity of natural killer cells, the immune cells that fight infection.
Reduces cortisol levels and stress
Ashwagandha has been shown to have an incredible effect on cortisol levels in the body in numerous studies. Cortisol is a stress hormone that causes all the wear and tears on the body if the body is chronically stressed, which can easily occur in modern times.
By reducing cortisol, it is of great help for people with chronic stress, anxiety, and even depression. One experiment found a 79% decrease in depression in 60 days in those who consumed 600 mg of ashwagandha!
Improves male fertility
Stress affects fertility the most, and highly stressed men have low testosterone and low sperm counts. It is not known whether it directly affects the reproductive system or whether it is potent enough to reduce stress levels causing the improvement, but a strong correlation has been found between ashwagandha and improved testosterone production and sperm health.
One study found that men who were given ashwagandha for stress had higher levels of antioxidants and better semen quality. After 3 months of treatment, 14 percent of the men’s partners had become pregnant.
Chronic inflammation is one of the most common causes of disease in our modern life. Caused by various things, one of your best remedies is ashwagandha. It was found to reduce an inflammation marker called C-reactive protein by 36%.
Helps in muscle building
A study to determine the safe dosage amount of ashwagandha for people found that previously healthy people had increased muscle mass and reduced fat. Another study that tested their strengthening claims found the same.
It can improve brain function, especially memory
It has always been said to improve memory in Ayurveda and human experiences have shown that it improves mental performance.
More interestingly, many animal studies and test-tube studies have shown that it reduces mental problems caused by injury and disease, the results seem promising for the treatment of humans in the future.