Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is commonly familiar to everyone as Indian “ginseng” or “winter cherry” used as a medicinal plant in Ayurvedic medicine. Its adaptogenic capacity is clinically proven to reduce stress, control blood glucose levels, alleviate insomnia and arthritis, and ameliorate mental stamina and concentration. Usually, its roots and berries are utilised for acquiring pharmacological benefits and consumed in different forms such as extracted tea powder, potions, tablets, gummies and supplements. Researchers and scientists across the globe are perpetually investigating to find out several health benefits of ashwagandha intake and ensure its significance against various malaises. Research-based 7 health benefits of Ashwagandha are provided below.
1. Alleviate stress and anxiety
The major exacerbating factors in the development of hypertension and diabetes are stress, anxiety and depression. Higher levels of stress were also found to be associated with mood disorders. However, researchers around the world confirm that Ashwagandha plant preparation provides “anxiolytic”, “antidepressant” and “neuroprotective” effects. Ashwagandha as a stress and anxiety regulator has been observed in many clinical trials.
According to many researchers, a randomised, double-blind and placebo-controlled trial of Ashwagandha represented a noticeable abatement of anxiety, morning cortisol, inflammation, and blood pressure among deep-rooted patients. Besides, Ashwagandha helps in the enhancement of “serum dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S)” and haemoglobin in some patients. Additionally, several research studies on the health benefits of Ashwagandha displayed negligible levels of side effects. The mechanism of action of the anxiolytic effect of Ashwagandha suggests the debilitating effect on the “hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA)” axis functionality which is associated with a stream of signals followed by increasing cortisol and DHEA simultaneously. Moreover, in some preclinical trials, Ashwagandha was found to exhibit “GABAergic” and “Serotonin” projections which also possess antidepressant and anxiolytic consequences. However, scientists believe that the simultaneous interaction among all these mechanisms of Ashwagandha is responsible for positive therapeutic outcomes.
2. Debilitating blood sugar and overweight
Ashwagandha showed its beneficial impact not only in reducing stress and anxiety but also in lowering blood sugar levels and obesity. The explicable role of emotional stress is directly interrelated with the development of type-2 diabetes Mellitus (Type-2 DM) or at times considered a potential precursor for the onset of Type-2 DM. The consequential impact of high blood sugar is responsible for insulin resistance, weight gain and compromised self-care. Nevertheless, insubstantial pieces of evidence revealed that Ashwagandha decreases blood glucose levels through its actions on insulin synthesis, secretion and responsiveness, distinctly during breakfast. Leaf and root extracted form of Ashwagandha in the treatment of lessening blood glucose can be effective, escalating low-density lipoprotein and sodium of urine concentration.
Ashwagandha accelerates the metabolism system of the body if consumed regularly at a certain amount. Therefore, these Ayurvedic herbs help in losing and burning fats. Briefly speaking Ashwagandha decreases blood cortisol levels, and mutates gene expression involved in excessive fat tissue deposition or suppression of fat accumulation. Ashwagandha contains small molecules which function as a “leptin sensitizer” that reduces cellular “endoplasmic reticulum (ER)” stress. Furthermore, the molecule extracted from the plant induces “adipocyte” browning followed by improving oxygen utilisation and disbursement of energy. Active components and all these mechanisms help an individual reduce stomach fat
3. Strengthening skeletal muscle
Several reports suggested that Ashwagandha is associated with significant enhancement of muscle mass and strength. The therapeutic role of Ashwagandha is also found in “muscle hypertrophy”, “muscle recovery” and “body composition”. Investigators observed that resistance training programs comprise numerous physical activities which cause the skeletal muscle to shrink against external objections. However, concomitant research work divulged the fact that Ashwagandha supplementation assists in adaptation and obtaining strength. According to the statement by many healthy adults, this is understood that Ashwagandha ameliorates the coordination in skeletal muscles and increases “cardiorespiratory” adaptability.
Ashwagandha’s roots are distinctively known as “Rasayana" which means rejuvenator widely utilised for restoring body strength and developing consciousness of well-being, extending life span and downregulating the ageing process. The effectiveness of Ashwagandha supplementation consumption in the muscle recovery process is demonstrated by monitoring the creatine kinase. Muscle soreness is a common incident for those who are less habituated to exercise, however, “delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)” results in various discomforts of entailing “tenderness to palpation”, “debilitating ambulatory” “lack of intrinsic force production” and so on. In this case, Ashwagandha plays a pivotal role in terms of reducing DOMS which eventually helps in the process of muscle recovery, reducing muscle damage and strengthening body mass index (BMI).
4. improvement of female sexual functionality
It is hypothesized that “High-concentration ashwagandha root extract (HCARE)” orally helps in reducing “female sexual dysfunction (FSD)”, “female sexual arousal disorder (FSAD)”, “female orgasmic disorder (FOD)” or “hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD)”. All these disorders result in several sexual health issues, for instance, reduced libido, dryness in the genital portion, reduced arousal, and aching during intercourse and whatsoever. From the ancient era in Indian Ayurveda clinical history, Ashwagandha has been used for treating sexual weakness, declining sexual desires, and erectile dysfunctionality in women where the nervous system is indirectly or directly involved in playing a diminishing role. Scientists found that stressed women are less desirous and motivated to have sexual intercourse.
Ashwagandha to some extent acts as an anti-stress-stimulating agent and consumption of HCARE on a regular basis alleviates the occurrence of FSD which underlies the fact that Ashwagandha suppresses the “androgen deficiency syndrome” that is closely related to lack of sexual desire in women. It is also predicted by researchers that reduced levels of testosterone with age among women might also be associated with the development of FSD. A comparative study report showed that an Ashwagandha 300mg capsule administered twice a day orally for 8 weeks progressively grew sexual function in women. Additionally, it is also reported that the Ashwagandha root extract created a greater impact than the placebo on the sexual functionality of women.
5. Promoting overall male sexual health
Various animal studies ensured that Ashwagandha plays an influential role in increasing sexual hormone production and secretion because of its elucidating effect on “luteinizing hormone”, “follicle-stimulating hormone”, “testosterone” and “Progesterone”. Scientific evidence suggests that the optimal level of testosterone helps in improving “spermatogenesis” and many other functionalities of the male body. Researchers revealed that “hyperprolactinemia (HPRL)” is interconnected to erectile dysfunction which can also lead to the reduction of sperm production and decrease the release of “gonadotropin”. Therefore, to address this crisis alternative medication occupies a strong position among the population. The aphrodisiac properties of Ashwagandha make this herb to be used regularly for increasing sexual hormone production, secretion and fertility rate among men. Moreover, Ashwagandha is known as a standardised herbal medicine which is safe, affordable and acceptable for the utilisation of male sexual health. Therefore, ashwagandha is nowadays considered a safer alternative to chemicals or allopathic medication. It is also presumed that improvement in sexual performance could create an effect on the “GABA receptors” which would facilitate the responsiveness of “gonadotropin gene expression”. Researchers further indicated that the analogous structure of “withanolides'', “steroidal lactone triterpenoids'' and testosterone would create a beneficial impact on male steroidal hormones. Numerous supportive pieces of evidence and statements from various trial-based studies indicate that Ashwagandha can be utilised for male sexual function.
6. Improving brain cells
Ashwagandha from the very beginning of Indian Ayurvedic medicine is used for reducing cerebral function deficiency. Usually, neurodegenerative diseases cause irreversible damage to the brain cells and result in permanent impairment of the cerebral portion such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington and so on. Effective medications against these diseases are limited and associated with numerous side effects. Ashwagandha herb is used as a tonic and memory enhancer. According to recent studies, methanol extracted Ashwagandha root remarkably increases the percentage of cells afflicted with “neurites” in the clinical subject “neuroblastoma cell line (SK-N-SH cells)”. It is reported that Ashwagandha shares neuroprotective properties and alleviates cognitive and nervous system-related disorders without showing any toxic or adverse effects.
7. Bolstering cardiovascular health
Ashwagandha is well known for its beneficial therapeutic health aspects. Modern medical science revealed that a component called “catechin” is responsible for its miscellaneous properties such as “antioxidant”, “antiaging” and “cardiac health maintenance”. More than one study showed that Ashwagandha improves the heart health of an individual with cardiac arrest. Besides, its phenolic properties act as a great antioxidant agent which ultimately reduces cholesterol levels and the risk of developing heart attack in future. Many people found to administer Ashwagandha to improve their heart health including lowering cholesterol levels, reducing stress and anxiety, and alleviating chest aching. Some reports suggest that Ashwagandha extracted root increases the enduring capacity of heart vessels which helps in maintaining the blood flow and its antioxidative nature boosts the heart muscles simultaneously.
Ashwagandha is an ancient medicinal plant utilised as the traditional Ayurvedic medicine in India and is now widely gaining appreciation because of its various health benefits. This herb is found to be highly effective in brain cells. Besides, its positive effect in reducing stress, anxiety, insomnia, and cognitive impairment is also noticeable and commendable. This medicinal herb is gradually becoming popular as an alternative medicine nationally and internationally. Although Ashwagandha is safe to consume for any healthy individual, however, consulting a professional is advisable before administering this herb.