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Ashwagandha: Benefits and Side Effects

Ashwagandha: Benefits and Side Effects

Ashwagandha, Withania somnifera, also known as "Indian winter cherry" or "Indian Ginseng", is generally found in Bundelkhand, Africa, and a few parts of the Middle East. Stress is a major problem for many people these days. The constant pressure of work and life can be challenging, but stress is also linked to many health problems, including depression, heart disease and obesity. A study published in 2008 found that ashwagandha extract reduced cortisol (an essential stress hormone) levels by up to 51% when given to rats. Cortisol levels are typically higher in humans after exposure to stressors like work or family obligations. It may also be effective at reducing swelling because it contains compounds called steroidal lactones that reduce inflammation. Inflammation is believed to play a role in many diseases, including heart disease, cancer and arthritis. 

Is Ashwagandha a popular herb? 

Ashwagandha is a popular herb used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine. It is one of the most potent and natural adaptogens available. It's considered a "triple action" herb, meaning it simultaneously works on all three body systems. The goodness of this herb resides in the roots, which is why Ashwagandha roots have been included in many Ayurvedic medicines. Ashwagandha contains chemicals that help calm the brain, reduce swelling, lower blood pressure, and alter the immune system.   

Since ashwagandha is a traditional adaptogen, it is used for many stress-related conditions. Adaptogen is a substance that helps the body resist physical and mental stress. Some of the conditions it is used for include insomnia, ageing, anxiety and many others. Ashwagandha has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine to increase energy, improve overall health and reduce inflammation, pain and anxiety.  

Benefits: 

Stress reliever: 

By far, it's already proven that if stress and anxiety trigger your mental health, reach out to the Ashwagandha plant. Ashwagandha is a classified adaptogen that helps release physical and mental stress. Along with calming your mind down, Ashwagandha also regulates cortisol (stress hormone) secretion and heat shock protein levels. So, if you are suffering from acute anxiety, you can reach out to your doctor for Ashwagandha capsules or powder. Make sure you read the label and check if it's paraben free, like Healthvit's Ashwagandha powder and capsules. It rejuvenates your body functions, reduces stress levels, and benefits joint pains. 

Improves mental health condition: 

Evidence shows that Ashwagandha is impactful in boosting your mental health conditions, including depression. In a study, the researchers gave Ashwagandha supplements to 66 schizophrenic patients. Patients who took at least 1000 mg of Ashwagandha daily for 12 weeks had seen improvement in their condition. Also, according to the experts, Ashwagandha helps reduce mental condition symptoms by at least 50%. In addition, research conducted in 2013 also says that Ashwagandha improves cognitive impairment in people with bipolar disorder. In a study in 2012, experts found that stressed adults who took at least 600 mg of Ashwagandha for two weeks for 60 days saw a 77% deduction in depression and anxiety. 

Improves reproductive health: 

One of the most unnoticed yet crucial benefits of Ashwagandha is that it boosts testosterone and increases fertility in men. Especially for men who are obese and suffering from fatigue or sexual problems can take Ashwagandha supplements daily. Ashwagandha also increases sperm count, concentration, and motility rate in men. The benefits of Ashwagandha are not only for men but for female bodies. This herb can also work wonders by reducing PCOD and fertility issues. Cortisol or stress hormone levels can lower estrogen secretion and increases androgen levels, which can cause PCOS in most women. Ashwagandha contains tryptophan, a building block of serotonin, the mood-lifting hormone, and prevents/ cures PCOS symptoms. 

Reduce blood sugar levels: 

Ashwagandha consists of insulin resistance properties that help control high blood sugar levels. Ayurveda experts claim that Ashwagandha can regulate your insulin level by influencing the production and sensitivity level of the hormone. As a result, Ashwagandha extract stimulates insulin levels in the blood, reducing blood sugar levels. 

Improves sleep cycle: 

Due to its calming properties, Ashwagandha tea is sometimes preferred to regulate your sleep cycle. Taking Ashwagandha extract calms down your nervous system and helps you get a sound sleep. In addition, you will be much more active and energized after taking this herb before bedtime. It can be a magical portion for insomniacs, but along with that, you also have to make a few lifestyle modifications like: 

  • Reduce screen timing 
  • Avoid caffeine 
  • Meditate before you sleep 

Side effects: 

If you have thyroid problems, it's better to check with your doctor before taking Ashwagandha capsules. Ashwagandha can augment thyroid function by disturbing the T3 and T4 levels. Also, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding or have an autoimmune disease, it is better not to take any Ashwagandha supplements. Especially during pregnancy, it's recommended to avoid the herb because it might create complications. 

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