10 Amazing Health Benefits Of Ashwagandha

10 Amazing Health Benefits Of Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is a herb that needs no introduction. It is one of the most sought after herbal supplements not just in India, but globally. There are various reasons for its popularity, but its immune-boosting effects and benefits for bodybuilding are probably the first to come to mind. Of course, there is a lot more to ashwagandha as the herb’s wide-ranging therapeutic properties have long been recognized in Ayurveda. We’ll take a look at some of the most notable health benefits of ashwagandha that are now supported by modern scientific research.

Top 10 Health Benefits Of Ashwagandha

1. Immune Support

Boosts Immunity

Since this is the most sought after benefits of ashwagandha today, it’s the perfect starting place. Demand for Ashwagandha capsules has grown exponentially over the last year because of the coronavirus pandemic and the need to boost immunity naturally. This is in fact one of the primary uses of ashwagandha in Ayurvedic medicine. 

Research Findings:

  • Ashwagandha is classified as an adaptogen because of its ability to help the body cope and adapt to stress. This is believed to strengthen immune function by improving the cell-mediated immunity.
  • Studies show that ashwagandha supplementation can promote an increase in natural killer cell activity, helping fight off infections.

2. Relief from Stress and Anxiety Disorders

Reduce Stress Levels

This one’s a no brainer. As an adaptogenic herb, ashwagandha’s ability to fight stress is one of its key features. It has long been used for this purpose in Ayurvedic medicine. 

Research Findings:

  • Ashwagandha contains active withanoside compounds and these compounds can change the body’s stress response. Supplementation with 300 to 500 mg ashwagandha has been shown to lower cortisol levels by more than 25 percent.
  • Studies in humans have observed significant reduction in symptoms of both stress and anxiety disorders, with some even measuring the reduction in symptoms to be as much as 69 percent. 

3. Improves Muscle Strength and Recovery

Ashwagandha may well be the world’s oldest supplement for bodybuilders and athletes. It has long been recommended as a natural aid to increase muscle mass, strength, and stamina in Ayurveda. Due to the high risk and illegality of performance-enhancing drugs, ashwagandha has also attracted the interest of international bodybuilders and athletes as a safe natural alternative. Even so, taking the natural herb can provide one of the best benefits of Ashwagandha.

Research Findings:

  • A study that appeared in the International Society of Sports Nutrition noted that that 8 weeks of supplementation produced visible gains in muscle strength and mass. 
  • Gains in terms of muscle mass and endurance are linked to the cortisol lowering and testosterone boosting effects of ashwagandha, but the precise mechanism is not clearly understood.

4. Promotes Weight Loss

Excess Body Weight

Ayurveda is strongly opposed to weight loss shortcuts because of the health risks inherent in such methods. However, it does point to certain herbs that can support weight loss efforts. Ashwagandha is one of the most notable of these herbs and its weight loss benefits are also backed by studies.

Research Findings:

  • High stress is known to increase the risk of overeating and food cravings, so it is no surprise that researchers found ashwagandha to be particularly helpful for weight loss in adults suffering from chronic stress. Improvements were seen within 8 weeks of supplementation.
  • The study recorded improvements in food cravings, body weight, BMI, and other parameters.

5. Boosts Fertility & Sexual Health

Testosterone isn’t just helpful when it comes to muscle growth. As an important male hormone, it also plays a role in sexual health and fertility. Contrary to popular belief, the herb can improve the reproductive health of both men and women. 

Research Findings:

  • Studies in men with fertility problems have shown that the herb can help raise sperm count and motility, while the increase in testosterone can also boost sex drive and performance. 
  • Another study in women with sexual dysfunction showed that ashwagandha can help improve arousal, libido, and orgasms, enhancing the quality of sexual activity.

6. Enhances Memory & Brain Function

This is another traditional Ayurvedic use of ashwagandha that we often overlook. It has been used to improve memory, learning, and protect against mental decline associated with aging. These benefits are now supported by a large number of studies.

Research Findings:

  • A study in the Journal of Dietary Supplements found that the herb could enhance both immediate and general memory, while also improving attention and processing speed in patients with mild cognitive impairment.
  • Research shows that ashwagandha may even help in the fight against Alzheimer’s as withanoside compounds could play a role in synaptic reconstruction. 
  • Studies in healthy adults have also noted improvements in memory, task performance, and reaction times.

7. Anti-aging Effects

In Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha is included in the class of herbs described as rasayana or rejuvenatives. These herbs are said to rejuvenate the body, restoring vitality, and promoting qualities of youthfulness. While the benefits of Ashwagandha don’t include time travel, the herb can certainly provide anti-aging properties.

Research Findings:

  • Greying of hair is one of the earliest signs of aging and it can begin early in some of us. Studies show that daily ashwagandha intake can increase melanin production to reduce greying. 
  • We also know that ashwagandha is loaded with antioxidants that can protect against free radical damage, which is the main factor in aging.

8. Anti-Arthritic Effects

Arthritic diseases are exceedingly common and painful, but they are regarded as chronic. This means that most patients are forced to either live with the debilitating pain or take pain medication and other drugs to control symptoms for the rest of their lives. This is why ashwagandha is so promising for its anti-arthritic effects.

Research Findings:

  • The high withanolide content in ashwagandha works in a manner similar to steroidal drugs, relieving joint pain and swelling that is common in arthritis. 
  • Ashwagandha also has proven anti-inflammatory properties, decreasing inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein. This can also reduce pain and inflammation of the joints in arthritis.

9. Regulates Blood Sugar

Ashwagandha may not be able to prevent or cure diabetes, but it can certainly help lower the risk of diabetes and can also improve diabetes management. This is because of its effects on blood glucose levels. This makes it an important ingredient in Ayurvedic diabetic medications and it is now being researched as a source of other therapeutic drugs.

Research Findings:

  • There is evidence from several studies showing that ashwagandha supplementation can increase insulin production and improve insulin sensitivity, also lowering blood sugar levels. 
  • Ashwagandha has also been found to improve lipid levels and other parameters, thereby reducing the risk of diabetes complications.

10. Cancer Protection

Cancer has become increasingly prevalent, even striking young adults and children these days. This makes any added protection useful. Ashwagandha cannot prevent cancer, but research suggests that it may help in the fight against cancer to some extent.

Research Findings:

  • Lab studies indicate that ashwagandha’s anti-inflammatory effects have a regulating influence on the cell cycle, reducing angiogenesis or the proliferation of blood vessels around tumors. This can inhibit the spread and growth of cancer cells. 
  • Additionally, an ashwagandha compound called withaferin can induce apoptosis or the death of cancer cells. 

References:

  • Mikolai, Jeremy et al. “In vivo effects of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract on the activation of lymphocytes.” Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.) vol. 15,4 (2009): 423-30. doi:10.1089/acm.2008.0215
  • Chandrasekhar, K et al. “A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults.” Indian journal of psychological medicine vol. 34,3 (2012): 255-62. doi:10.4103/0253-7176.106022
  • Wankhede, Sachin et al. “Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition vol. 12 43. 25 Nov. 2015, doi:10.1186/s12970-015-0104-9
  • Choudhary, Dnyanraj et al. “Body Weight Management in Adults Under Chronic Stress Through Treatment With Ashwagandha Root Extract: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial.” Journal of evidence-based complementary & alternative medicine vol. 22,1 (2017): 96-106. doi:10.1177/2156587216641830
  • Ahmad, Mohammad Kaleem et al. “Withania somnifera improves semen quality by regulating reproductive hormone levels and oxidative stress in seminal plasma of infertile males.” Fertility and sterility vol. 94,3 (2010): 989-96. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2009.04.046
  • Dongre, Swati et al. “Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract in Improving Sexual Function in Women: A Pilot Study.” BioMed research international vol. 2015 (2015): 284154. doi:10.1155/2015/284154
  • Choudhary, Dnyanraj et al. “Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal) Root Extract in Improving Memory and Cognitive Functions.” Journal of dietary supplements vol. 14,6 (2017): 599-612. doi:10.1080/19390211.2017.1284970
  • Kuboyama, Tomoharu et al. “Withanoside IV and its active metabolite, sominone, attenuate Abeta(25-35)-induced neurodegeneration.” The European journal of neuroscience vol. 23,6 (2006): 1417-26. doi:10.1111/j.1460-9568.2006.04664.x
  • Choudhary, Dnyanraj et al. “Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal) Root Extract in Improving Memory and Cognitive Functions.” Journal of dietary supplements vol. 14,6 (2017): 599-612. doi:10.1080/19390211.2017.1284970
  • Tavhare, Swagata, et al. “Studies of Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera Dunal).” International Journal of Pharmaceutical & Biological Archives, vol. 7, no. 1, 2016, pp. 1–11., Retrieved from:https://www.ijpba.info/ijpba/index.php/ijpba/article/viewFile/1456/1026.
  • Ramakanth, G S H et al. “A randomized, double blind placebo controlled study of efficacy and tolerability of Withaina somnifera extracts in knee joint pain.” Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine vol. 7,3 (2016): 151-157. doi:10.1016/j.jaim.2016.05.003
  • Gorelick, Jonathan et al. “Hypoglycemic activity of withanolides and elicitated Withania somnifera.” Phytochemistry vol. 116 (2015): 283-289. doi:10.1016/j.phytochem.2015.02.029
  • Gao, Ran et al. “Withanone-rich combination of Ashwagandha withanolides restricts metastasis and angiogenesis through hnRNP-K.” Molecular cancer therapeutics vol. 13,12 (2014): 2930-40. doi:10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-14-0324
  • Vyas, Avani R, and Shivendra V Singh. “Molecular targets and mechanisms of cancer prevention and treatment by withaferin a, a naturally occurring steroidal lactone.” The AAPS journal vol. 16,1 (2014): 1-10. doi:10.1208/s12248-013-9531-1

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Comment (1)

  • Rahul Bhatnagar Reply

    Thanks for writing this wonderful blog about the benefits of ashwagandha. Ashwagandha benefits are very effective and helpful for your healthy body. I will share this article with my friends.

    August, 17 2020 at 5:47 pm

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