The title kinda says it all…..what?! The first time I heard the name of this Eastern herb I had NO idea what the person at Whole Foods was talking about. I find that happens to me a lot there……I had read an article about the cortisol-reducing properties of this herb and wanted to try it.
Here is the formal description of this ancient, healing herb:
Withania somnifera, known commonly as ashwagandha, Indian ginseng, poison gooseberry, or winter cherry is a plant in the Solanaceae or nightshade family. Several other species in the genus Withania are morphologically similar.
Ashwagandha has several magical applications and is best known for it’s benefits to your body and brain. It can also lower blood sugar, reduce cortisol and help fight symptoms of anxiety and depression. I have a great pal who uses it for anxiety and says it’s MANDATORY for a quality life! Great endorsement, right?!
7 PROVEN HEALTH BENEFITS OF ASHWAGANDHA:
IT’S an ancient medicinal herb.
Ashwagandha is one of the most important herbs in Ayurveda, a form of alternative medicine based on Indian principles of natural healing.
It has been used for over 3,000 years to relieve stress, increase energy levels and improve concentration.
“Ashwagandha” is Sanskrit for “smell of the horse,” which refers to both its unique smell and ability to increase strength.
Its botanical name is Withania somnifera, and it’s also known by several other names, including Indian ginseng and winter cherry.
The ashwagandha plant is a small shrub with yellow flowers that’s native to India and North Africa. Extracts or powder from the plant’s root or leaves are used to treat a variety of conditions.
Many of its health benefits are attributed to its high concentration of withanolides, which have been shown to fight inflammation and tumor growth.
IT can reduce blood sugar levels.
In several studies, ashwagandha has been shown to lower blood sugar levels.
One test-tube study found that it increased insulin secretion and improved insulin sensitivity in muscle cells.
Also, several human studies have confirmed its ability to reduce blood sugar levels in both healthy people and those with diabetes.
Additionally, in one four-week study in people with schizophrenia, those treated with ashwagandha had an average reduction in fasting blood sugar levels of 13.5 mg/dL, compared to 4.5 mg/dL in those who received a placebo.
What’s more, in a small study in six people with type 2 diabetes, supplementing with ashwagandha for 30 days lowered fasting blood sugar levels as effectively as an oral diabetes medication.
IT has anti-cancer properties.
Animal and test-tube studies have found that ashwagandha helps induce apoptosis, which is the programmed death of cancer cells.
It also impedes the growth of new cancer cells in several ways.
First, ashwagandha is believed to generate reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are toxic to cancer cells but not normal cells. Second, it may cause cancer cells to become less resistant to apoptosis.
Animal studies suggest that it may help treat several types of cancer, including breast, lung, colon, brain and ovarian cancer.
In one study, mice with ovarian tumors treated with ashwagandha alone or in combination with an anti-cancer drug had a 70–80% reduction in tumor growth. The treatment also prevented the spread of cancer to other organs.
IT reduces Cortisol levels.
Cortisol is known as a “stress hormone” because your adrenal glands release it in response to stress, as well as when your blood sugar levels get too low.
Unfortunately, in some cases, cortisol levels may become chronically elevated, which can lead to high blood sugar levels and increased fat storage in the abdomen.
Studies have shown that ashwagandha may help reduce cortisol levels.
In one study in chronically stressed adults, those who supplemented with ashwagandha had significantly greater reductions in cortisol, compared to the control group. Those taking the highest dose had a 30% reduction, on average.
IT may help reduce stress and anxiety.
Ashwagandha is perhaps best known for its ability to reduce stress.
Researchers reported that it blocked the stress pathway in the brains of rats by regulating chemical signaling in the nervous system.
Several controlled human studies have shown that it can effectively reduce symptoms in people with stress and anxiety disorders as well.
In a 60-day study in 64 people with chronic stress, those in the supplemental group reported a 69% average reduction in anxiety and insomnia, compared to 11% in the placebo group.
In another six-week study, 88% of people who took ashwagandha reported a reduction in anxiety, compared to 50% of those who took a placebo.
IT may reduce the symptons of depression.
Although it hasn’t been thoroughly studied, a few studies suggest ashwagandha may help alleviate depression.
In one controlled 60-day study in 64 stressed adults, those who took 600 mg of high-concentration ashwagandha extract per day reported a 79% reduction in severe depression, while the placebo group reported a 10% increase.
However, only one of the participants in this study had a history of depression. For this reason, the relevance of the results is unclear.
IT may increase muscle mass and strength.
Research has shown that ashwagandha may improve body composition and increase strength.
In a study to determine a safe and effective dosage for ashwagandha, healthy men who took 750–1,250 mg per day of pulverized ashwagandha root per day gained muscle strength after 30 days.
In another study, those who took ashwagandha had significantly greater gains in muscle strength and size. It also more than doubled the reduction in body fat percentage, compared to the placebo group.
HAVE YOU TRIED THIS AMAZING HERB YET? WHAT DID YOU USE IT IN? DID YOU FEEL IT WORKED?