Ashwagandha is a tried and trusted plant that is used to make various highly effective medicines. Known commonly as a stress-relieving medication, it is also used as an ‘adaptogen’ for multiple other conditions. It is a highly useful plant with multiple uses and cures for ailments. Its core use is helping calm the brain due to chemicals in its constitution as well as lowering blood pressure and altering the immune system.
Many confuse Ashwagandha with Physalis Alkenkengi. They are both known as winter cherry. Don’t confuse the herb with codonopsis, ginseng or eleuthero.
The following are some great uses for Ashwagandha:
An ancient medicinal herb
In Ayurveda, Ashwagandha is one of the most important and potent herbs. Over 3000 years its use has been to relieve stress, improve concentration, and increase energy levels. In Sanskrit, Ashwagandha means the smell of the horse, referring to its unique smell and ability to increase strength.
The botanical name for Ashwagandha is Withania somnifera. The Ashwagandha plant is a tiny shrub containing yellow flowers native to India and North Africa. The powder and extracts from the plant’s root or leaves are vital in treating multiple conditions.
The health benefits can be attributed to its high concentration of withanolides, that are proven to fight tumor growth.
Can reduce blood sugar levels
Multiple studies show Ashwagandha to lower blood sugar levels. A single test-tube study shows it increased insulin secretion and improved insulin sensitivity in muscle cells. There have been many human studies showing Ashwagandha can reduce blood sugar levels in both healthy people and diabetic patients.
In a recent 4-week study, schizophrenic patients were treated with Ashwagandha and had an average lowering in fasting blood sugar levels of 13.5 mg/dl versus 4.5 mg/dl among those receiving a placebo.
Additionally, a small study involving 6 patients with type 2 diabetes, used Ashwagandha for 1 month and recorded fasting blood sugar levels. However, this study had no control group, leaving the results questionable.
Could possess anticancer properties
Test-tube and animal studies show withaferin – one of the compounds in Ashwagandha – inducing apoptosis, which results in the death of cancer cells.
It is known to impede the growth of new cancer cells in multiple ways.
Firstly, withaferin promotes the formation of reactive oxygen species found within cancer cells, disrupting the function. Secondly, it could cause cancer cells to turn less resistant to apoptosis.
While no evidence shows that Ashwagandha exerts similar effects in humans, the same research is very encouraging.
Known to reduce cortisol levels
Cortisol is known by us to be a stress hormone giving your adrenal glans a release in response to stress, on top of blood sugar levels getting low.
However, in a few cases, cortisol levels could become chronically elevated leading to higher blood sugar levels and an increase in fat storage around the abdomen.
Studies show Ashwagandha could help reduce cortisol levels.
A single study showed chronically stressed adults, supplementing Ashwagandha to show higher reductions in cortisols versus the control group. Patients consuming higher doses showed a 30% reduction on average.
Help reduce anxiety and stress
Ashwagandha is best known to reduce stress. Research points to it blocking the stress pathway in rat brains by regulating the chemical signals in the nervous system.
Several controlled human studies also show it reduces symptoms in people having stress and anxiety disorders. A recent 60-day study in 64 patients having chronic stress showed those with Ashwagandha showed 69% lower levels of insomnia and anxiety compared to 11% in the placebo group.
Ashwagandha is a highly versatile and useful herb that is the cornerstone of multiple Ayurvedic medications. It is known to fight multiple health conditions and disorders and we highly suggest supplementing with Ashwagandha to begin seeing a positive change in your quality of life.