ashwagandha

10 proven benefits of Ashwagandha (evidence-based review)

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Ashwagandha is an ancient herb that has been used for centuries to improve healthy living. It looks like a small shrub with pale green flowers and red berries.

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It has a distinct smell, like one of a horse and tastes a little bitter. Therefore, it is better to take it in its powder form and mix it into your shake.

The herb grows in India, Middle East and parts of Africa, and for centuries it has been used for medicinal purposes. These purposes include improving sleep, reducing stress and anxiety as well as weight management and so much more.

In this article we will cover the most common uses, benefits and side effects of Ashwagandha.

What is ashwagandha used for?

In Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha is considered as one of the most important herbs for medicinal purposes. Some believe that it helps to maintain youth – both mentally and physically.

Currently, ashwagandha is commonly used to treat:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Epilepsy
  • Pain
  • Skin conditions

Practitioners use different parts of the plant to treat different problems. For instance, leaves, seeds and fruit help different ailments.

Ashwagandha health benefits (evidence based)

1. May reduce stress and anxiety

Some research suggests that taking a specific ashwagandha root extract like KSM66 may help relieve symptoms of anxiety. It seems that ashwagandha has the ability to block the stress pathway in the brain. Thich regulates chemical signalling in the nervous system as discovered in one of the studies [1]. Other research suggests that ashwagandha may even be as effective as lorazepam. This is a drug commonly prescribed to treat anxiety. [2].

Furthermore, a 2019 study on humans found that ashwagandha reduced the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that causes the symptoms related to stress and anxiety. This study suggests that taking 240mg of thesupplement may significantly improve the symptoms [3].

Goli Nutrition have recently released the world’s best ashwagandha KSM-66 supplement that can be taken alongside the apple cider vinegar gummies. The product is enriched with vitamin D to strengthen the immune system and support the development of healthy bones, teeth and muscle. Also, instead of the bitter taste, you can expect a berry flavour combining raspberries, strawberries and blueberries. What’s great about the Goli nutrition products is that they contain no artificial flavours, sweeteners or preservatives. Take a look at them here, and be sure to use code ‘Nutrition2change’ to get a discount at checkout.  

2. Can reduce blood sugar levels

Several studies show ashwagandha to lower blood sugar levels [4] [5] [6]. Even persons with type 2 diabetes experienced lower blood sugar levels after just 30 days of using ashwagandha [7]

Although these studies are very promising, so far, the research is quite fresh. We look forward to more studies.

3. May reduce symptoms of arthritis

Some studies show that ashwagandha may be useful for relieving symptoms of arthritis. It may act as a pain reliever by preventing signals from traveling along the nervous system and it contains chemicals that have anti-inflammatory properties [8] [9].

4. May reduce the risk of certain cancers

Ashwagandha contain a natural compound called withaferin. This compound has shown to induce apoptosis – killing of cancer cells [10].

This compound works in two stages. The first stage is the creation of reactive oxygen species within the cancer cell which disrupts their function and weakens them. This then makes these cancer cells more susceptible to apoptosis.

Numerous studies show that ashwagandha may help to treat lung, breast, colon, brain and ovarian cancer [11] [12] [13].

5. May reduce the risk or prevent memory loss or impairment

Some studies on animals suggest that ashwagandha may have the ability to slow or prevent the loss of brain function and improve memory. For instance, persons with conditions like the Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease suffer from memory loss and poor brain signalling. As these conditions develop, the signalling pathways in the brain become damaged. The research suggests that ashwagandha may delay this effect [14].

This herb is also a great antioxidant. There are studies that show reduction in memory loss and impairment even to those with epilepsy as well as brain injury [15] [16].

6. May support heart health

Ashwagandha has numerous properties that may improve heart health. This includes:

  • Reducing cholesterol and fats
  • Improving blood pressure
  • Reducing blood sugar
  • Anti-inflammatory

A study on rats has shown a reduction in cholesterol by approximately 54% [17]. Human studies also show impressive results on lowering cholesterol and blood fats [18] [19].

7. May increase muscle mass and strength

Numerous studies show Ashwagandha to increase muscle gains, strength and reduce body fat. In one of the studies, persons who regularly performed exercise managed to gain significantly more muscle mass and strength when taking ashwagandha than persons who didn’t [20] [21].

8. May improve testosterone and fertility

Numerous studies show some powerful effects of Ashwagandha on testosterone and fertility. One study shows a significant increase to sperm count and motility [22] [23].

Other studies show Ashwagandha to improve testosterone levels [24] [25].

Is it safe?

This supplement is safe to take for up to 3 months, long term effects have not yet been analysed. It is safe for most people apart from pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding as well as persons with autoimmune system (unless specified differently with a medical professional). In addition, persons who take medication for thyroid function should also be careful as this supplement may alter the thyroid hormone too.

Aswagandha is normally taken in dosage of 450-500mg but it is always important to consult your doctor.

Ashwagandha negative side effects

Some negative side effects of this supplement include:

  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Diarrhoea
  • Gastrointestinal problems (stomach ulcers)
  • May increase thyroid hormone

Interactions

There are several potential interactions with other medicines including:

  • This supplement increases the immune system. Avoid this supplement or seek professional help if you take any medications that suppress your immune system – azathioprine, cyclosporine, sirolimus and more.
  • The herb may cause sleepiness and drowsiness, if taken with other sedatives or anti-depressants, both combined may cause too much sleepiness. Other sedatives include clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), and more.
  • Thyroid regulating medicines may also interact with ashwagandha as, if taken together’ may cause too much thyroid hormone and increase symptoms.

Summary

In summary, Ashwagandha is a herb growing in India, Middle east and parts of Africa and it has some incredible benefits. The benefits include improvement to depression, stress and anxiety as well as heart health, blood sugar and cholesterol. Although more research is required, the current studies are very promising.

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