Benefits of Ashwagandha – Overview
Ashwagandha is a shrub that grows in Africa, the Middle East, and India. For centuries, indigenous people used this herb to treat all kinds of diseases.
Ashwagandha is also a main element in the Ayurvedic medicine system. The latter has existed for more than 3,000 years.
In this article, we will cover 10 health benefits of ashwagandha that will make you want to use it today! Of course, we will back our claims with evidence-based research.
10 benefits of Ashwagandha
1. Improves blood sugar levels
Research showed that ashwagandha can be really effective in controlling blood glucose.
In a 2015 laboratory study, researchers found that this herb upregulates the metabolic pathways that produce and release insulin. It also improves insulin sensitivity. Note that low levels of insulin and relative resistance to its action comprise the hallmarks of type II diabetes.
Scientists conducted similar studies on nondiabetic individuals and found positive results.
2. Relieves anxiety
Ashwagandha possesses powerful anxiolytic (i.e., anxiety-relieving) properties. Just consider that some experts compared its effects to a potent sedative drug known as lorazepam.
Moreover, the Journal of Phytomedicine published a study that quantified the anxiolytic effects of ashwagandha and found them comparable to benzodiazepines.
3. May help with some cancers
Ashwagandha seems to induce programmed cell death of cancer cells. We give this process the fancy name of apoptosis. When investigated, researchers found that the active compound withaferin is responsible for this action.
Other ways that may explain the positive effects of ashwagandha on cancer include:
- Dampening low-grade inflammation
- Getting rid of free radicals
- Preventing or slowing down angiogenesis (i.e., the formation of new blood vessels)
Clearly, you should not neglect conventional antineoplastic therapies to opt for ashwagandha. Instead, speak with your primary care physician or oncologist about the potential benefits of taking this herb.
4. May reduce pain
Every analgesic agent works slightly differently from others. Ashwagandha relieves pain by preventing the transfer of neurological signals from the periphery to the brain.
Additionally, this herb is rich in anti-inflammatory compounds. These work by blocking the action of pain-stimulating agents, such as prostaglandin E.
The consolidation of these actions makes ashwagandha particularly effective in treating inflammatory diseases (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis).
Any proof for this?
Well, one study included 86 patients with a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. They found that more than half of the participants experienced significant pain relief.
This finding is just the tip of the iceberg for ashwagandha’s pain-relieving properties.
5. Lowers the risk of heart disease
Here are some of the mechanisms that protect you from heart disease:
- Improves lipid panel and reduces dyslipidemia (high LDL, low HDL)
- Lowers high blood pressure
- Dampens low-grade inflammation
- Neutralizes oxidative stress
6. Promotes cognitive health
After listing several benefits, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that ashwagandha also helps with cognitive function.
In numerous animal studies, researchers found that ashwagandha improves memory and reduces the risk of cognitive decline. Once again, the primary mechanism involved in this process is the potent antioxidative properties of ashwagandha.
7. Boosts testosterone levels
In one study, researchers recruited 75 infertile men and divided them into two groups:
- The first group received ashwagandha supplements
- The second group received a placebo
The results of the study showed an increased sperm count and motility in the group that received the supplements.
Note that sperm count and motility are crucial parameters that determine the fertility of males.
8. May improve sleep
People who take ashwagandha swear by its benefits on sleep quality. Put anecdotes aside, there is some real evidence that supports these claims.
In a study that included 50 adults, researchers found that taking 600 mg of ashwagandha root per day can significantly improve sleep quality. The study lasted for 12 weeks, and these findings were present after the first few days of supplementation.
Not impressive enough? Well, researchers also found that ashwagandha improves mental alertness when waking up. As a result, you are less likely to feel tired in the morning.
9. Optimizes your lipid panel
When studies were conducted on humans, the results were less dramatic; however, they were still impressive, to say the least.
For instance, one study that lasted 60 days recruited participants who suffer from chronic stress. The group who received ashwagandha supplements had a 17% decrease in LDL (i.e., bad cholesterol) and an 11% decrease in triglycerides.
While these results may not seem as influential, even a 1% drop in these fats can be life-saving.
10. Lowers the risk of viral infection
Due to its antimicrobial and antioxidative effects, ashwagandha is also an effective herb in the treatment of viral infections.
Researchers are still debating about the mechanism of action, but the predominant theory suggests that ashwagandha triggers the immune cells to be more robust when encountering viruses.
Ashwagandha is a herb with extremely rich active ingredients that offer a myriad of health benefits. After reviewing all the evidence and studies that support its benefits, taking ashwagandha supplements should be a no-brainer.
We hope that this article managed to highlight the overwhelming benefits of ashwagandha and how it optimizes every aspect of your health.
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