Ashwagandha is one of the most important herbs of ancient medicine and an effective remedy for many modern ailments.
- Ashwagandha is one of the most important herbs of ancient medicine and an effective remedy for many modern ailments.
- It is one of the most popular and potent herbs of Ayurvedic medicine where it is classified as rasayana, meaning it promotes vitality, longevity and happiness.
- Recent studies confirm that ashwagandha has important benefits for today’s most common health problems…and that it is, in fact, anti-aging!
- Ashwagandha is an adaptogen. That means it helps the body adapt to stress and maintain hormonal balance.
- Like all adaptogens, ashwagandha increases our resistance to the negative impacts of stress.
Read on to find out why this is important and to learn about the other benefits of ashwagandha.
8 Benefits of Ashwagandha
1. Helps you overcome stress
Stress relief is one of the ancient uses of ashwagandha. Chronic stress increases your risks of mental imbalances including depression and anxiety. It also makes you more susceptible to serious health conditions, like diabetes, ulcerative colitis, asthma, coronary heart disease, high cholesterol, and migraines.
Ashwagandha regulates cortisol levels and protects your mind and body from the damaging impacts of stress. It supports cortisol production during times of ongoing stress and allows cortisol levels to drop when the stressful trigger has passed.,
A recent study examined the effects of daily ashwagandha supplementation on chronically stressed adults. Study participants were administered varying amounts of ashwagandha or a placebo. Their stress levels and perceived wellbeing were evaluated at the beginning of the study and again after 30 days and 60 days of supplementation.
The study subjects who received the smallest dose of ashwagandha experienced significant improvements while the placebo group showed no change in condition. Those who received greater doses of ashwagandha had the greatest improvements in stress levels and quality of life.
2. Boosts your immune system.
Ashwagandha improves your immune response by mitigating the impacts of stress and boosting your white blood cell count. Ashwagandha is especially effective for restoring the immune system after an illness.
In a scientific investigation designed to explore the impacts of ashwagandha supplementation, the study subjects were administered 3 different drugs to artificially suppress their immune systems, then treated with either ashwagandha or a placebo.
Ashwagandha prevented immune suppression in all 3 cases. Researchers also reported that the subjects who received ashwagandha had increased levels of hemoglobin concentration, red blood cell count, white blood cell count, platelet count, and body weight.
3. Improves insulin sensitivity.
Insulin resistance leads to fatigue, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Ashwagandha lowers blood sugar and enhances insulin sensitivity so you can maintain a healthy blood sugar balance.
While ashwagandha is known to regulate blood sugar in healthy people, it has been found to also be effective for those with diabetes. In fact, one study found that ashwagandha regulates blood sugar in diabetic people as well as prescription drugs.
A particular withanolide found in ashwagandha known as withaferin A has been shown to enhance glucose metabolism by 54%, though various other withanolides also improve blood sugar regulation and provide protection from diabetes.
4. Helps you sleep better.
Quality sleep is important for many aspects of health, including weight management, cardiovascular health, hormonal balance, and inflammation. Ashwagandha helps you fall asleep faster and improves the quality of your sleep.
The authors of a recent study on the benefits of ashwagandha for sleep stated that insomnia is a common problem with serious health consequences and that most commercially available sleep-enhancing drugs have problematic side effects and create dependency.
In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, these researchers found that after 10 weeks of supplementation, ashwagandha improved all measures of sleep quality, including the time it takes to fall asleep, total sleep time, night waking, mental alertness on rising, and quality of rest.
Furthermore, unlike most insomnia medications, ashwagandha was found to be safe and well-tolerated with no reported side effects.
5. Enhances brain function and mental wellbeing.
Ashwagandha improves many aspects of brain health. A study performed on healthy adults demonstrated that ashwagandha improves cognition, memory, concentration, and focus.
It also has protective effects that reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. One of the chief causes of mental degeneration in these diseases is the loss of axons and dendrites. Studies show that ashwagandha induces significant regeneration of axons and dendrites in the brain and reverses amyloid peptide-induced memory loss.
Additionally, ashwagandha relieves anxiety and depression and induces a deep sense of mental calm. In fact, a study that examined the impacts of ashwagandha on mental health reported that the herb reduced anxiety by 69% and depression by 79%.
A separate investigation found that ashwagandha is equally as effective as prescription drugs for relieving depression and anxiety.
6. Supports hormonal wellbeing.
Ashwagandha supports healthy levels of testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone. It also improves libido, eases reproductive disorders, and enhances fertility. This is why ashwagandha is used to relieve infertility in many countries.
It is believed that ashwagandha enhances fertility by improving the hormonal balance of luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and testosterone and detoxifying the body and reproductive organs.
Ashwagandha also mimics GABA. As a result, ashwagandha supplementation increases the release of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (which triggers the chain of events that leads to the release of testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone) and encourages hormonal balance.
7. Improves body composition.
Prolonged high blood sugar can cause serious health problems including weight gain, heart disease, cognitive decline, and sexual dysfunction. Ashwagandha supports stable blood sugar and healthy weight management.
Researchers have identified numerous compounds in ashwagandha, in addition to withanolides, that increase glucose utilization by muscle fibers and fat cells, which reduces the body’s tendency to store energy as fat.
Ashwagandha is especially effective for weight loss in chronically stressed people. A study found that ashwagandha improves food cravings, eating behaviors, body weight and body mass index in stressed individuals in as little as four weeks.
Additional studies have shown that ashwagandha also increases athletic performance. Both aerobic capacity and endurance are increased by ashwagandha supplementation, even in Olympic athletes.
8. Slows the aging process.
Ashwagandha contains powerful antioxidants that protect the body from oxidative stress. This, in turn, slows the aging process. The antioxidants in ashwagandha protect our skin, hair, heart, brain, and muscles from age-related atrophy.
Ashwagandha increases body levels of powerful antioxidants including superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione.
The brain and nervous system are particularly vulnerable to free oxidative damage. Glycowithanolide, one of the antioxidant constituents of ashwagandha, raises antioxidant levels in the brain which provides protection from neurodegeneration.
Ashwagandha also enhances telomerase activity, thereby slowing the aging process and providing protection from age-related diseases.