Ashwagandha is famous for its outstanding healing properties. It has grown in North Africa, the Middle East and India for thousands of years. Some people refer to it as Indian or Ayurveda ginseng due to the similar benefits the two herbs share. You might also be interested to know that it’s latin name is Withania somnifera and you might also hear it called Winter Cherry.
This word is taken from ancient sanskrit for “horse smell” as it not only closely resembles the smell of the horse but imparts the one taking it with extra strength and endurance while helping to rejuvenate overall health.
- 1 Health Benefits of Ashwagandha
- 1.1 Reduced Stress and Increased Endurance
- 1.2 Fights Depression and Mood Swings
- 1.3 Eases Arthritis Pain
- 1.4 Antioxidant
- 1.5 Anti-disease Properties
- 1.6 Boosts Thyroid Function
- 1.7 Enhance Immune Function
- 1.8 Boost Sexual Performance
- 1.9 Treat Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease
- 1.10 Anti-Anxiety
- 1.11 Antibacterial
- 1.12 blood disorders Treatment
- 1.13 Heart Health
- 2 Ashwagandha Side Effects
- 3 Can Ashwagandha be taken at night to help you sleep?
- 4 How much ashwagandha should I take daily?
- 5 Can you take ashwagandha with shatavari together?
- 6 Will I get taller if I take Ashwagandha?
Health Benefits of Ashwagandha
Among other things, Ashwagandha increases strength, energy, stamina, relieves chronic stress, it’s a powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and has anti-tumor properties. Additionally it’s been proven to be quite effective in treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and heart disease naturally.
The uses of Ashwagandha have been the subject of many clinical studies and many of the top health benefits are due to the chemical properties of withanolides in the plant. An aqueous extract of roots plus leaves contains healing amounts of withanolides.
Let’s dig a little deeper into these wonderful benefits now.
Ashwagandha helps to reduce stress and anxiety while at the same time it can increase stamina and endurance, making it popular for use by athletes who turn to it as a performance enhancer. As an adaptogen herb, it also prevents stress-induced exhaustion.
The herb’s main function in reducing anxiety and stress is lowering levels of cortisol which is the body’s main stress hormone. While having beneficial effects in the body’s fight-or-flight system, excess levels aren’t good and cause adrenal fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. This rasayana herb has been shown to have the ability to lower damaging cortisol levels by almost 30%.
However, clinical studies are needed to prove the clinical efficacy of this herb, especially in cardiovascular endurance and physical performance.
Fights Depression and Mood Swings
Ashwagandha is an antidepressant and is used to treat mood swings. As an adaptogen, it has a powerful mood enhancing effect that works as an antidepressant action. It also enhances the effectiveness of nor-epinephrine, a brain chemical which stabilizes your mood and reduces depression. You won’t find many alternative herbal remedies that serve as a better natural mood stabilizer.
Eases Arthritis Pain
Ashwagandha is effective in relieving inflammation and pain associated with arthritis. It prevents disability caused by pain and inflammation.
In a recent randomized placebo-controller double blind study, the herb was found to be efficacious against rheumatoid arthritis. Ayurvedid medicine uses a formulation called Sidh Makardhwaj (SM) as a treatment for the disease as well as knee joint pain and discomfort.
Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) attenuates antioxidant defense and is used to decrease the action of harmful free radicals as it is a potent antioxidant. It enhances natural antioxidants like catalase superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase.
The importance of antioxidants to fight breakdown of the cells can not be overstated and extracts of this herb go a long way in that battle.
Ashwagandha has an antidisease property as it induces apoptosis of renal carcinoma and inhibits the growth of new blood vessels (angiogenesis). It reduces the growth of tumors as it has anti-proliferative activity in colon, lungs, breast cells and central nervous system. From prevention to treatment of disease, more and more studies are showing this amazing herb to be a go-to treatment for practitioners of alternative, holistic medicine and Ayurveda.
Boosts Thyroid Function
Ashwagandha is used in the treatment of underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) by stimulating its activity. No wonder it’s so commonly prescribed for thyroid disorders by Ayurvedic doctors.
Enhance Immune Function
Ashwagandha is a herb that increases the amount of platelets and white blood cells in circulation. It enhances immune function against free radicals. In a recent scientific study, a combination of the herb along with Maitake medicinal mushroom extract (referred to as WB365) was found to have an enhancing effect upon the immune system’s ability to fight infection, even when compromised by chronic stress.
Boost Sexual Performance
Ashwagandha improves sexual performance as it enhances sex hormones of both men and women. Further, clinical trials have shown this powerful herb to have wonderful effects in the fight against erectile dysfunction in men versus a placebo. Ashwagandha root extract has even been shown to increase male fertility by increasing sperm count.
The sexual performance benefits are limited to men. For many years Ashwagandha has been known to women as “the herb that will bring you 1,000 husbands” because of its aphrodisiac and libido-enhancing abilities and is even esteemed by many Ayuerveda doctors as one of the top three most important herbs for women.
Are you beginning to understand how important this herb is to your overall health and the rejuvenation of your vitality? Well, we’re really just getting started on the benefits!
Treat Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease
Ashwagandha improves brain functioning by improving memory deficits, neuronal growth, brain function and lost connections of brain cells. So it is used in the treatment of degenerative brain disorders and memory loss like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. It helps prevent physical disability by improving memory and brain function. It was also found useful in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Alzeimer’s diseases in a recent clinical trial.
Ashwagandha is used to relieve anxiety as it is a potent anti-anxiety and reduces feelings of anxiety. A very small dose of this herb gives a relaxing effect. Reference this study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine which assessed existing reports of human trials using ashwagandha to treat anxiety.
If you specifically want to reduce anxiety by using Ashwagandha, this article is an absolute must-read!
Ashwagandha has an antibacterial activity and the indigenous medicinal plant also has healing anti-candida yeast properties as well.
blood disorders Treatment
Ashwagandha has diuretic effect and lowers down the cholesterol and blood sugar level in both healthy and diabetic people. Some clinical trials have shown this Indian traditional medicinal plant to be just as effective as oral blood disorders medication.
This herb has a bad-cholesterol-lowering agent and acts as a cardioprotective agent and prevents myocardial infarction injury. Therapeutic doses are very important for anyone suffering from heart disease or anyone who has had a mild or massive heart attack.
Ashwagandha Side Effects
As an adaptogen, Ashwagandha sometimes causes excessive energy as well as sometimes causes mild sedation by enhancing the effect of nor-epinephrine in the brain.
Gastrointestinal disturbance like diarrhea, mild stomach upset and mouth irritation is a common side effect associated with ashwagandha.
If you are taking Ashwagandha supplements please be aware that they can alter the results of a thyroid functioning test.
A great way to prevent negative effects from any herb like Ashwagandha is to combine it with a harmonizer like Shilajit to balance out the effect and amplify it’s effectiveness.
You should talk to your physician before taking ashwagandha with other supplements having sedative properties as it intensifies its effects.
Can Ashwagandha be taken at night to help you sleep?
Yes! In fact that’s when I choose to take it. This plant is so dynamic it offers energizing effects when taken in the morning and better sleep when taken at night. I take a 500mg extract powder capsule every night at bed time and have never had better sleep patterns. I feel like it’s helped me fight insomnia and fall asleep faster because those issues were stress-induced for me. The herbal extract I take is standardized to 4-5% withanolides. (I posted a picture and link to their product above.)
How much ashwagandha should I take daily?
A good starting dose of ashwagandha is a 500mg capsule once or twice per day. Personally, I take one 500mg capsule an hour before bed because I’m most interested in its ability to improve sleep. If you want any of the other additional benefits, take one 500mg capsule of standardized extract powder every twelve hours to maintain steady levels in the blood.
Ashwagandha is considered very safe when taken short-term but there’s no evidence on its safety when taken for extended periods of time. If interested in taking it as a daily tonic herb, do more research on how to do so. I personally recommend cycling off of even the most beneficial herbs from time-to-time. I take several herbs and medicinal mushrooms daily but don’t take any for the first five days of every month. Not only have I found it to help lower my monthly costs for herbal supplements, I’ve also found this cycling method to have benefits in lowering tolerance. Those five days are enough to “reset” my tolerance and I notice a very enjoyable effect on the sixth of every month when I resume my normal dosage.
If you have questions, tips or suggestions about herbal cycling, please leave a comment below as I’m all ears when it comes to this.
Can you take ashwagandha with shatavari together?
Yes! Shatavari and ashwagandha work extremely well together as ashwagandha works so well to heighten stamina and endurance while shatavari has many of the same healing effects on the reproductive system and sexual wellness like sperm count, libido and more. Many bodybuilders claim amazing benefits when “stacking” the two herbal formulas together. To make this even easier some herbal formulas have a very good dosage of both of these in ready-to-take extract powder form saving you the trouble of having to mix them before consumption.
Will I get taller if I take Ashwagandha?
No. While some make bold claims of an increase in height by regularly taking the herb, there is absolutely no evidence that it will make an adult grow taller.