The Benefits Of Ashwagandha: An Ancient Herb In Modern Medicine
Ancient herbs have been making a splash in modern medicine in the last twenty or so years. They're even creeping into healthy foods which is a blessing. Needless to say that healthy lifestyle choices such as the food you consume is proven to help prevent mental and physical illness and disease. Nutrient-dense foods promote high energy levels, fulfilment, happiness and a bunch of other cool stuff that is required for looking good and feeling great. In the hierarchy of medicinal fodder, medical scientists are lauding the multiple benefits of ashwagandha, a family member of adaptogens which help the body adapt to or deal with all kinds of mental and physical stressors. And if people need anything in today’s world, it's a supplement that helps you handle stress!
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is known to contain the medicinal property, withanolides - a steroid compound that is naturally-occurring in nightshades. Commonly known as “Indian Winter cherry”, the herb is known to act as an effective ‘nervine tonic.’ Also known as Withania somnifera, this magical herb has a host of wide-ranging benefits that can potentially boost testosterone levels, muscle mass and male fertility by reducing cortisol levels in people that struggle with chronic stress. Other significant benefits of ashwagandha include calming the mind, reducing inflammation, lowering blood pressure, treating cancerous cells and boosting the immune system.
Today, the abundance of medicinal benefits of Ashwagandha are being re-explored by medical science, but the plant has been a mainstay of ancient Ayurvedic treatments for thousands of years. In ancient times, the root and berry of this evergreen shrub were used to treat patients in ancient India, the Middle East, and parts of Africa where ashwagandha grows indigenously.
Chronic stress is the worst enemy of your immune system. When you are constantly stressed, the adrenal glands secrete cortisol and induce the famous “fight-flight-or freeze" response. Whilst stress hormones can be useful for keeping you alert, in people with highly stressful lifestyles, cortisol levels become elevated and the body cannot flush away the waste. This is when cortisol becomes your archenemy.
High levels of cortisol prompts high blood sugar levels, increases fat storage in the abdomen and weakens immunity. Your immune system is needed to fend off illness and disease. The good news is ashwagandha is a warrior in reducing stress. Researchers report that it blocks stress pathways by regulating chemical signalling in the nervous system. In one study, chronically stressed adults lowered cortisol levels by up to 30% after digesting supplements containing ashwagandha.
However, ashwagandha is not useful for all types of stress. Several National Institutes of Health have reported withanolide compounds may not be safe during pregnancy or breast-feeding. It has been linked with miscarriage. So if your missus is with child don’t give her anything that contains ashwagandha no matter how stressed out she is. Try peppermint tea instead. You know where you are with tea. On the other hand, if you are thinking about starting a family, ashwagandha boosts testerone and increases male fertility. It’s a magical herb for males. Tell your missus. If you want to know more about how ashwagandha helps to bulletproof your immune system check this guy out.
Increase Muscle Mass
Supplements that contains ashwagandha are increasingly being used to build muscle mass and strength in body builders and weightlifting circles. The medicinal properties are proven to be effective at mediating the negative effects elevated cortisol has on your muscles and fat storage. Scientists are still a little mystified about the precise mechanism of action for ashwagandha's impact on cortisol, but meta-analysis has revealed theoretical data in a growing body of scientific evidence. It is thought that withanolides inhibit cortisol secretion in the adrenal glands and restricts the amount of serum passing into your system by up to 27%. One study showed that healthy males gained muscle strength after 30 days of taking 750-1,250 mg of pulverized ashwagandha root.
Improve Cognitive Function
Ashwagandha has been shown to demonstrate “significant improvements” in executive cognitive function in ageing individuals. Even in younger generations, the effects of Withania somnifera improved the performance in five of six psychomotor tests including memory, focus, concentration and the overall cognitive function of healthy participants aged between 20 and 35 years old. Capsules containing 250 mg of highly standardized dried aqueous extract of the roots and leaves of Withania somnifera has even proven useful to help children with memory deficit. You can use ashwagandha on children. That’s how safe it is. Another benefit of ashwagandha - no side effects. Other than pregnant women and people that have an allergy to nightshade. We can’t please everyone.