Ashwagandha: A Multi Benefit Exotic Indian Herb
Ashwagandha is known as an exotic Indian herb that has an exceptional
stress-relieving component than those other powerful drugs that are used to
treat anxiety and depression. Ashwagandha brings excellent protective effects on
human’s nervous system, making it a promising treatment alternative for various
degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. One of the many
Ashwagandha benefits is that it has powerful antioxidant components that helps
seek and destroy free radicals that can be found in numerous disease states like
aging. There are many Ashwagandha benefits any studies have already proven it.
However, one remarkable benefit stands out and that is the fact that Ashwagandha
is an effective anti-cancer supplement. As a matter of fact, evidences about
Ashwagandha benefits are continuing to emerge and many countries are being aware
of the health advantages that it can bring.
Ashvagandha in Sanskrit means "smelling like a horse ", probably originating
from the odor of its fresh root which resembles that of a sweaty horse.
Ashvagandha is a well-known antistress herb. The species' name Somnifera means
"sleep-bearing" in Latin, indicating that Ashvagandha was considered a sedative.
However, it has also been used for sexual vitality and as an adaptogen.
Ashvagandha is popularly known as Indian Ginseng.
Ashvagandha is an unique herb with antistress, adaptogenic action that leads to
better physical fitness and helps with stress management. It increases
physiological endurance and protects against the effects of stress. Ashvagandha
is especially beneficial in stress-related disorders such as arthritis,
hypertension, diabetes and premature aging.
Ashwagandha has actually been used for many centuries. Although this herb
originated from India, Africans as well as Native Americans have also used it
for forwarding off sickness and infections. The herbal medicine is already
earning its popularity in Ayurvedic medicine. That is the reason why Ashwagandha
herbal medicine is now known as a powerful herbal alternative used by different
health organizations. In fact, even science nowadays is starting to grasp all
the Ashwagandha benefits. Different studies by professional researchers also
have investigated its antioxidant, anti-stress, as well as anti-inflammatory
properties. Many companies were amazed of the Ashwagandha benefits and they have
taken action to include Ashwagandha in their products. Actually, 7 companies in
America and 4 companies in Japan already applied for a patent and the number is
There are lots of Ashwagandha benefits that trigger the herb to become very
popular worldwide. The herb is known for its exceptional ability to calm as well
as promote sleep according to reliable research studies done by different
universities worldwide. In Texas, professional researchers happen to find out
the similarities of the sleep-inducing component of Ashwagandha as well as the
calming effects brought by the famous amino acid GABA. Similarly, the herb has
also been proven by different researchers to ease restlessness or anxiety, and
even to reduce drug withdrawal symptoms. Many herbalists also value the herbal
medicine’s ability to encourage adrenal recovery and stabilize moods.
Ashwagandha Benefits also includes it as Anti-stress as it is said to be an
“adaptogen” that helps the human body to cope up with stress. Some use it as
anti-aging, some for improving thinking ability, some for deducing pain and
swelling. It benefits the immune system, increasing fertility and sperm count.
If you think that Ashwagandha benefits is only limited to mood-related concerns,
then this time you’re wrong. In India, Ashwagandha is used in order to help
patients (usually the older ones) with cognitive ability, memory, and mental
agility. The herbal medicine is also famous for its component that can fight off
cough and cold symptoms. As a matter of fact, preliminary studies have given the
researchers enough reason to know that the herbal medicine also has great
ability to decrease cancer-triggering cells without affecting the body’s healthy
cells. Ashwagandha benefits make the herbal supplement famous enough to be known
by many people who love to use herbal alternatives. The herbal medicine is also
considered by lots of herbalists as an effective anti-aging supplements. Also,
it was traditionally known for its own ability to bring nourishment to muscles
Recent studies have also proved that orange berries from Ashwagandha can be
applied as a topical treatment in order to aid skin ulcers, carbuncles, tumors,
and many more. Further researches are on-going in order to collect more truthful
Ashwagandha benefits and in order to determine the effectiveness of the herb
even more. One of the most recent studies shown that Ashwagandha can treat
diabetes, bone cancer, constipation, bipolar disorder, rheumatism, impotency,
memory loss, nerve problems, arthritis as well as any other physical ailments.
Also, they happen to found out that its effectiveness is very similar to the
famous ginseng herb that has been widely used by Chinese.
Environmental toxins, stress, as well as poor nutrition all can give detrimental
impact to the nervous system. Regarding with that, scientific studies support
the herb’s ability not only as a stress reliever, but also as a brain cell
protector against the harmful and deleterious effects of the modern lifestyles.
In validated models of depression and anxiety, Ashwagandha benefits have been
identified to have the same effects with antidepressant drugs and tranquilizers.
Specifically, oral taking of Ashwagandha for 5 days can have similar
anxiety-relieving effects provided by other anxiety drugs, as well as similar
antidepressant effects provided by other antidepressant drugs.
Stress can dramatically cause increased peroxidation of lipids especially while
decreasing levels of glutathione peroxidase and antioxidant enzymes catalase.
Good thing is that Ashwagandha benefits include an effective anti-stress and
anti-anxiety property better than other commercial drugs.
Another study shown that Ashwagandha benefits help the growth of nerve cell
“dendrites”, which generally allows these cells to communicate with other cells.
Overall, this finding tend to suggest that one of the many Ashwagandha benefits
is that it can heal the changes occurring in the brain tissue and often
accompany dementia. Researchers also found out that Ashwagandha benefits help
promote the growth of damaged as well as normal nerve cells.
In a 1993 clinical study in India, fifty people complaining of lethargy and
fatigue for 2 to 6 months were given an adaptogenic tonic made up of eleven
herbs, including 760 mg of ashwagandha, once a day. The participants had not
responded to a vitamin and mineral supplement each of them had taken for at
least 2 months, and they had no recognizable disease. After 1 month of taking
the ashwagan dha mixture, the patients reported an average 45 percent
improvement in their moods. Their blood plasma protein levels and hemoglobin,
two factors used to measure overall health, also increased significantly,
providing a statistical measurement of the tonic’s effect. Another study in 1995
in India found that ashwagandha was beneficial in treating the exceedingly
stressful withdrawal from morphine addiction.
A 1994 study in India compared the adaptogenic and anabolic (ability to promote
growth of lean body mass) effects of P. ginseng and ashwagandha in mice and
rats. Groups of six mice were fed 100 mg/kg water extract of either ginseng,
ashwagandha, or saline for seven days. On the eighth day, the animals’ endurance
levels were tested by swimming. Their average swimming times in minutes were
62.55, ginseng; 82.14, ashwagandha; and 35.34, saline.
In another experiment, three groups of six castrated rats were given ginseng,
ashwagandha, or saline at a rate of 1 g/kg of body weight for seven days. The
anabolic steroid Orabolin was given at a rate of 100 micrograms to a fourth
group. Those rats taking ashwagandha and ginseng showed significant increases in
total body weight and dry thigh muscle weight, with results only slightly below
Orabolin. It must be noted, however, that in both these experiments the dosages
were quite large compared with the typical human dose and it may be unsafe for
humans to take such large doses of these herbs on an extended basis.
Ashwagandha, one of the most vital herbs in Ayurvedic healing, has been used
since ancient times for a wide variety of conditions, but is most well known for
its restorative benefits. In Sanskrit ashwagandha means “the smell of a horse,”
indicating that the herb imparts the vigor and strength of a stallion, and it
has traditionally been prescribed to help people strengthen their immune system
after an illness. In fact, it’s frequently referred to as “Indian ginseng”
because of its rejuvenating properties (although botanically, ginseng and
ashwagandha are unrelated). In addition, ashwagandha is also used to enhance
sexual potency for both men and women.
Belonging to the same family as the tomato, ashwagandha (or Withania somnifera
in Latin) is a plump shrub with oval leaves and yellow flowers. It bears red
fruit about the size of a raisin. The herb is native to the dry regions of
India, northern Africa, and the Middle East, but today is also grown in more
mild climates, including in the United States.
Ashwagandha contains many useful medicinal chemicals, including withanolides,
(steroidal lactones), alkaloids, choline, fatty acids, amino acids, and a
variety of sugars. While the leaves and fruit have valuable therapeutic
properties, the root of the ashwagandha plant is the part most commonly used in
Western herbal remedies.
Medical researchers have been studying ashwagandha with great interest and as of
this date have carried out 216 studies of its healing benefits, summarized
confers immune system protection
combats the effects of stress
improves learning, memory, and reaction time
reduces anxiety and depression without causing drowsiness
stabilizes blood sugar
reduces brain-cell degeneration
contains anti-malarial properties
offers anti-inflammatory benefits
Some studies have also found that ashwagandha inhibits the growth of cancer
cells in small animals, but further research is needed to determine whether the
herb prevents the development of tumors in human beings.
Ashwagandha in particular is known for its ability to calm, and some research
indicates this herb can be used to promote sleep. In Texas, researchers noted
the similarities in the sleep-inducing properties of ashwagandha and the calming
effects of the well-known amino acid GABA. Likewise, ashwagandha has also been
shown to ease anxiety or restlessness, as well as to reduce the symptoms of drug
withdrawal. Its ability to stabilize moods and encourage adrenal recovery is
highly valued by many herbalists.
But the benefits of ashwagandha extend far beyond mood. In India it is also used
to help older patients with mental agility, cognitive ability, and memory. It is
also known for its ability to fight off cold and cough symptoms. Preliminary
studies give researchers reason to feel that ashwagandha also has the potential
ability to decrease cancer cells without adversely affecting healthy cells.
Ashwagandha Practical and Precautions: The usual recommended dose is 600 to 1000
mg, twice daily. For people who suffer from insomnia and anxiety, having a cup
of hot milk that contains a teaspoon of powdered ashwagandha before bedtime is
beneficial. In extremely large doses, ashwagandha has been reported to induce
abortions in animals. Although no similar studies have been carried out on
humans, women should avoid the herb during pregnancy.You should consult your
ayurvedic doctor or other health care professional before starting on any
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. It is
used as an herb in Ayurvedic medicine. This species is a short shrub growing 35
to 75 centimeters tall. Tomentose branches extend radially from a central stem.
The flowers are small and green. The ripe fruit is orange-red.The species name
somnifera means "sleep-inducing" in Latin. Withania somnifera is cultivated in
many of the drier regions of India, such as Mandsaur District of Madhya Pradesh,
Punjab, Sindh, Gujarat,and Rajasthan. It is also found in Nepal.
Withania somnifera is prone to several pests and diseases. Leaf spot disease
caused by Alternaria alternata is the most prevalent disease, which is most
severe in the plains of Punjab, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh. Biodeterioration
of its pharmaceutically active components during leaf spot disease has been
reported. The Choanephora cucurbitarum causes a stem and leaf rot of Withania
somnifera Oxyrachis tarandus, a treehopper, feeds on the apical portions of the
stem, making them rough and woody in appearance and brown in colour. The apical
leaves are shed and the plant gradually dies. The carmine red spider mite (Tetranychus
urticae) is the most prevalent pest of the plant in India.
The berries can be used as a substitute for rennet in cheesemaking. The main
chemical constituents are alkaloids and steroidal lactones. These include
tropine and cuscohygrine. The leaves contain the steroidal lactones,
withanolides, notably withaferin A, which was the first to be isolated from the
plant.The plant's long, brown, tuberous roots are used for medicinal purposes.
In Ayurveda, the berries and leaves are applied externally to tumors, tubercular
glands, carbuncles, and ulcers. The roots are used to prepare the herbal remedy
ashwagandha, which has been traditionally used to treat various symptoms and
In two published clinical trials of W. somnifera, the side effects were not
significantly different from those experienced by placebo-treated individuals.
In the clinical trial of Cooley et al. (2009), Ashwagandha exhibit greater
clinical benefit than psychotherapy in mental health (anxiety level),
concentration, fatigue, social functioning, vitality, and overall quality of
life. Also, ashwagandha may also act as an abortifacient and has traditionally
been used in this role.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Do not use ashwagandha if you are pregnant. It is
rated LIKELY UNSAFE during pregnancy. There is some evidence that ashwagandha
might cause miscarriages. Not enough is known about the use of ashwagandha
during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Stomach ulcers: Ashwagandha can irritate the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Don’t
use ashwagandha if you have a stomach ulcer.
“Auto-immune diseases” such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus
erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other conditions: Ashwagandha
might cause the immune system to become more active, and this could increase the
symptoms of auto-immune diseases. If you have one of these conditions, it’s best
to avoid using ashwagandha.
Surgery: Ashwagandha may slow down the central nervous system. Healthcare
providers worry that anesthesia and other medications during and after surgery
might increase this effect. Stop taking ashwagandha at least 2 weeks before a
Dated 14 September 2013