Discover the 11 shocking health benefits of ashwagandha.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that is popular in Ayurvedic medicine and has been used for more than 2,500 years; it is the most commonly used and widely researched adaptogenic herb.
It is valued for its thyroid modulating, neuroprotective, anxiolytic, antidepressant, and anti-inflammatory properties, which are just a few of the many benefits of ashwagandha.
In India, ashwagandha is known as “stallion strength” because it has traditionally been used to strengthen the immune system after illness.
It is also known as “Indian ginseng” because of its ability to improve your stamina and work as a natural stress reliever.
Ashwagandha can work as a stress protection agent that has made it such a popular herb.
Like all adaptogenic herbs, ashwagandha helps the body maintain homeostasis, even in times of emotional or physical stress.
But the many benefits of ashwagandha don’t stop there. This powerful herb has shown incredible results in lowering cortisol levels and balancing thyroid hormones.
In addition, it has been used for mood disorders and in the prevention of degenerative diseases.
Health benefits of Ashwagandha
1.- Improves thyroid function
One of the amazing things about adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha is that they can help people with underactive or hyperactive thyroid problems.
The health benefits of Ashwagandha have been shown to support a slow thyroid for people diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease and have been shown to improve the health of people with an overactive thyroid or Grave’s disease, although research on the effects of the herb on hyperthyroidism is limited.
For the millions of people who are struggling with thyroid problems, many of whom don’t even know it, the benefits of ashwagandha can serve as the solution they have been waiting for.
A pilot study evaluated the health benefits of ashwagandha in helping patients with subclinical hypothyroidism.
All 50 participants were diagnosed with a thyroid disorder but showed no obvious symptoms of thyroid deficiency.
Over 8 weeks, the treatment group received 600 milligrams of ashwagandha root extract daily, and the control group received starch as a placebo.
The researchers found that ashwagandha improved serum levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroxine (T4) compared to placebo.
It was concluded that ashwagandha may be beneficial in normalizing thyroid levels in hypothyroid patients.
While another study found that ashwagandha has thyroid-enhancing properties.
In the study, patients with bipolar disorder used ashwagandha to improve cognitive function for 8 weeks.
Laboratory tests found that some of these patients experienced increases in T4 during the treatment period, although that was not the original purpose of the study.
2.- Relieves adrenal fatigue
Research shows that ashwagandha may help support adrenal function and help you overcome adrenal fatigue.
Your adrenal glands are endocrine glands that are responsible for the release of hormones, specifically cortisol and adrenaline, in response to stress.
If your adrenal glands are overloaded due to an overabundance of emotional, physical, or mental stress, this can lead to a condition known as adrenal fatigue.
When your adrenal glands become depleted, this can also disrupt other hormones in your body, including progesterone, which can cause infertility and lower levels of DHEA, a hormone that is linked to longevity and maintaining a strong body.
3.- Combat stress and anxiety
One of the best-known ashwagandha benefits is its ability to function as a natural remedy for anxiety.
In a 2009 study published in PLOS One, ashwagandha was shown to be comparable to the common pharmaceutical drugs lorazepam and imipramine, without the side effects.
In the 12-week controlled study, 75 participants with anxiety were divided into two groups, one that received naturopathic care and one that received standardized psychotherapy intervention.
The naturopathic care group received dietary counseling, deep breathing relaxation techniques, a standard multivitamin, and 300 milligrams of ashwagandha twice daily.
The psychotherapy intervention group received psychotherapy, deep breathing relaxation techniques, and placebo pills twice daily.
When anxiety levels were measured after the 12 weeks, the ashwagandha group had anxiety scores that decreased by 55 percent and the psychotherapy group’s scores decreased by 30.5 percent.
Significant differences were also found between the two groups in mental health, concentration, social functioning, vitality, fatigue, and overall quality of life, with the ashwagandha group showing greater clinical benefits.
In addition to these positive findings, the researchers indicated that there were no serious side effects in either group.
An important benefit of ashwagandha is that there are no or minimal adverse reactions when taken, compared to antidepressant and anxiolytic medications that can cause drowsiness, insomnia, loss of sexual desire, and increased appetite, among other side effects.
4.- Improves depression
Not only does ashwagandha benefit people dealing with anxiety and chronic stress, but it can also be helpful for people experiencing signs of depression.
It improves our resistance to stress and studies show that it improves people’s self-rated quality of life.
Since stress is a known cause of depression, as are hormonal imbalances, it can potentially work as a natural remedy for depression.
In a 2000 experimental study with rats, the efficacy of ashwagandha benefits was compared with the antidepressant medication imipramine.
The researchers found that the herb exhibited antidepressant effects that were comparable to imipramine when rats were exposed to tests of “behavioral despair” and “learned helplessness”
It was concluded that ashwagandha can be used as a mood stabilizer in clinical conditions of depression.
5.- Balances blood sugar levels
Ashwagandha has been evaluated for its anti-diabetic effects, which are possible due to the presence of phenolic compounds, including flavonoids.
Research shows that the flavonoids have hypoglycemic activities and rodent studies concluded that both the ashwagandha root and leaf extracts helped achieve normal blood sugar levels in the blood in diabetic rats.
A published animal study found that when ashwagandha was given to fructose-fed rats, it inhibited fructose-induced increases in glucose, insulin resistance, and inflammation.
These data suggest that ashwagandha extract may help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammatory markers in humans.
6.- Helps fight cancer
Research suggests that ashwagandha has promising antitumor effects, can help reduce tumor growth, and can help prevent cancer cell growth.
The extract has been shown to help inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells, specifically breast, lung, stomach, and colon cancer cells, which are among some of the leading cancers in the world.
Ashwagandha is believed to help prevent cancer cell growth primarily due to its immune-boosting and antioxidant abilities.
In addition to the anti-cancer benefits that have been shown in multiple studies, the researchers also suggest that the herb may help reduce the side effects of anticancer agents that can lower immunity and quality of life.
According to an overview published in a renowned North American medical journal, ashwagandha acts as an immunomodulator that can improve the lives of cancer patients, who are especially at risk for lowered immunity.
A published animal study found that supplementation with ashwagandha correlated with an increase in white blood cells in the body, indicating that the immune system can better protect the body from diseases and harmful invasions when using this herb.
The decrease in the white blood cell count in the body after chemotherapy is a big concern because it puts cancer patients at a much higher risk for health problems such as getting an infection.
This is why ashwagandha can serve as a complementary addition to conventional cancer treatments.
7.- Reduces the degeneration of brain cells and improves memory
Emotional, physical, and chemical stress can have detrimental effects on the brain and nervous system.
Recent research has shown that ashwagandha is more than a stress reliever, it also protects the brain from cell degeneration, which can lead to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
One of the main reasons ashwagandha is so effective in healing the brain is because it contains powerful antioxidants that destroy free radicals that cause aging.
Withaferin A and withanolide D are the two main withanolides in ashwagandha benefits that are used to improve cognitive function.
Withanolides are steroids of natural origin that are commonly present in plants of the Solanaceae family.
When these steroids were injected into rodents to test their cognitive enhancement abilities, the researchers found that they helped promote cell growth, reverse behavioral deficits, and plaque buildup, and reduce the amyloid-beta load, which is crucial for the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
A pilot study conducted in 2017 showed that ashwagandha effectively improved immediate and general memory in people with mild cognitive impairment.
The herb was also able to improve attention, information processing speed, and mental abilities.
The study involved 50 adults who received 300 milligrams of ashwagandha root extract or placebo over 8 weeks.
The researchers concluded that ashwagandha treatment was able to increase memory and other cognitive abilities.
8.- Improves immune function
Because ashwagandha works as an adaptogen that can reduce the body’s stress hormones, it can help boost your immune system and reduce inflammation within the body.
Research in animals and laboratories shows that ashwagandha can improve immune function by increasing the production of immunoglobulins.
It is also capable of promoting an anti-inflammatory environment by suppressing pro-inflammatory cytokines.
By negatively regulating the immune system when it is compromised, ashwagandha could be a useful tool in treating various inflammatory disorders.
9.- Increases stamina and endurance
Studies have shown that the health benefits of ashwagandha can increase endurance during physical activity by sharpening brain function and reducing body pain.
Due to its positive calming, yet energizing effect on the brain, and its ability to reduce stress hormones.
In addition, it showed improvements in concentration, motivation, and endurance in the studies carried out.
2015, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study conducted in India evaluated the efficacy of ashwagandha extracts in improving cardiorespiratory endurance in 50 healthy adult athletes.
During a 20-minute shuttle race test, each participant’s maximal exertion oxygen consumption was measured.
Participants also received a questionnaire on their physical health, psychological health, social relationships, and environmental factors to access changes in their quality of life after treatment with ashwagandha.
The researchers found that ashwagandha extracts improved cardiorespiratory endurance at 8 and 12 weeks of treatment, and significantly improved the quality of life scores of participants in the ashwagandha group.
A study with rats found that this herb was able to increase swimming performance during a physical endurance test.
Rats that received ashwagandha before testing swam for a median time of 740 minutes, while the control group swam for a median duration of 385 minutes.
Ashwagandha treatment nearly doubled swimming time, suggesting that it benefits rodent resistance.
Scientists believe that it is the anti-stress properties of ashwagandha that help improve your stamina and similar effects can occur in humans due to the herb’s ability to balance the adrenal hormones that are involved in physical activity.
10.- Helps increase muscle strength
Perhaps one of the most amazing benefits of ashwagandha is its ability to increase your muscle mass and strength.
For this reason, it can be a useful tool for people who do resistance training and other forms of exercise that can be strenuous on their muscles.
A 2015 study published in the Journal of the International Society for Sports Nutrition found that ashwagandha supplementation is associated with a significant increase in muscle mass and strength.
The 8-week study involved 57 men between the ages of 18 and 50 with little experience in resistance training.
The men in the treatment group consumed 300 milligrams of ashwagandha root extract twice a day, and the control group consumed starch placebos.
The researchers found that the treatment group had significantly greater increases in muscle strength in the bench press and leg extension exercise.
Those who received the herb also showed a significantly greater increase in muscle size of the arms and chest, had a significantly greater reduction in exercise-induced muscle damage, had an increase in testosterone levels, and a greater decrease in the percentage of body fat.
11.- Helps improve sexual function and fertility
In Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha has been used as a natural aphrodisiac that can help improve sexual dysfunction.
It is also used to increase testosterone levels and improve male fertility.
A pilot study published in BioMed Research International set out to determine the efficacy and safety of 300 milligrams of ashwagandha root extract supplements twice daily for 8 weeks to improve sexual function in 50 healthy women.
The researchers found that the treatment group showed significantly higher improvements, compared to placebo, in sexual function scores, specifically in the areas of arousal, lubrication, and orgasm.
Another study was conducted to analyze the spermatogenic activity of ashwagandha in patients with low sperm concentrations and possible male infertility.
46 men participated in the study and received 675 milligrams of ashwagandha divided into three doses per day for 90 days or a placebo.
At the end of the treatment period, semen parameters and serum hormone levels were estimated.
The researchers found that there was a 167 percent increase in sperm count, a 53 percent increase in semen volume, and a 57 percent increase in sperm motility among treatment participants who were being treated. with ashwagandha. In the placebo group, the improvements were minimal.
While another study published in 2010 found that supplementation with ashwagandha was able to improve testosterone levels in 75 men who underwent infertility tests.
Ashwagandha also reduces oxidative stress and improves the levels of various antioxidants in the treatment group.
Nutritional value of ashwagandha
According to published research, about 1,000 milligrams of dried ashwagandha root powder contains the following:
• 2.5 calories
• .04 grams of protein
• .032 grams of fiber
• .05 grams of carbohydrates
• .03 milligrams of iron
• .02 milligrams of calcium
• .08 micrograms of carotene
• .06 milligrams of vitamin C
Ashwagandha contains many beneficial elements, including flavonoids and antioxidants such as catalase, superoxide dismutase, and glutathione, which is known as the “mother of all antioxidants.”
It also contains alkaloids, amino acids (including tryptophan ), neurotransmitters, sterols, tannins, lignans, and triterpenes.
It is these valuable compounds that enable the pharmacological activities of ashwagandha benefits.
Ashwagandha Side Effects and Precautions
• Ashwagandha is made up of steroidal lactones or withanolides, which include withanolide A, withaferin A, and with a one.
These structures are unique to ashwagandha and have different medicinal effects.
Some parts of the plant contain more of these compounds than others, so when choosing an ashwagandha extract, you need to pay attention to where it comes from.
Leaf extracts generally contain higher levels of withaferin A, which is used to kill cancer cells and has cytotoxic effects.
For all other health conditions, you should use ashwagandha root extracts.
• When taken in the proper doses, ashwagandha has been considered safe for human consumption.
Some possible side effects of ashwagandha include upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea; If you notice any of these side effects, stop taking the herb immediately.
• Ashwagandha should never be used by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, as there is some evidence that it can cause miscarriages and there is no safety information available on breastfeeding while taking ashwagandha.
• People using drugs for diabetes, drugs for blood pressure, drugs that suppress the immune system, sedatives, or drugs for thyroid problems should not use the benefits of ashwagandha unless they have checked with their doctor first.
Because the herb also works to modify these conditions, there can be adverse interactions.
• Ashwagandha may increase the symptoms of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.
• If you are going to have surgery that requires anesthesia, you should stop taking ashwagandha at least two weeks beforehand in case the herb slows down your central nervous system even more.