Have You Heard Of Ashwagandha?
By Kirsten Cowart
Ashwagandha – also known as withania somnifera – has many incredible effects on the body that increase health of the mind, nerves, immune system and joints, while also increasing strength and endurance.
This powerful herb has been used in the Indian healing traditions of Ayurveda for hundreds of years. Only in the last few decades has research been conducted by scientists (mostly on animals) that has found a lot of evidence to back up the claims from these healers and they are now seeing why Ashwagandha is such a powerful and healing herb.
Here is the evidence for 5 main areas that this plant has shown to benefit the body in clinical studies.
Ashwagandha has an incredible effect on the nervous system and can calm down the areas of the brain that can be worn down due to excess and prolonged stress. GABA (Gamma amino-butyric acid) is an inhibitory neurotransmitter located in the brain that functions to decrease neuronal activity. This herb helps keep nerve cells from over-firing, which will have a naturally calming effect on the mind and body.
Problems from the over-firing of neurons can result in insomnia and restlessness. Since ashwagandha contains GABA, it will naturally calm the cells, helping with reducing anxiety, uplifting the mood and inducing restful sleep.
In India, Ashwagandha has been used on people for a very long time as a mood stabilizer. Research has also shown that this herb produces a natural anti-depressant and anti-anxiety effect that is comparable to antidepressant drugs such as Ativan and its effect in mice.
Other research has shown that Ashwagandha is helpful with stress induced problems such as ulcers, inhibition of male sexual drive, retention of learned activities and memory.
Ashwagandha research at the Banaras Hindu University located in Varanasi, India discovered that some of the chemicals in the herb were powerful antioxidants. In some of their studies, they found that there was an increase of three natural antioxidants superoxide: dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase.
This supports the claims of Indian Ayurvedic medicine and long term use of this powerful herb. These antioxidant effects support and explain why it has helped people reduce stress, cognition-facilitating, anti-inflammatory and anti-aging effects.
Studies have looked into the anti-inflammatory effects of Ashwagandha for the treatment of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. The research has found that this herb is effective, because it has a naturally occurring steroidal content that is much higher than that of hydrocortisone, which is normally prescribed for anti-inflammatory problems.
Research of ashwagandha has also found some awesome evidence for anti-aging properties. In a double-blind clinical trial, a group of 101 healthy males between the ages of 50-59 years old were given 3 grams daily for one year. The subjects had significant improvement in their hemoglobin, red blood cell count, seated stature and hair melanin. Serum cholesterol decreased in these men and nail calcium was preserved. 70% also reported improved sexual performance.
5. Immune System And General Health
Anticarcinogenic activity has also been found in Ashwagandha roots. The roots caused an inhibitory effect on around 49% of colony forming CHO cells. The cell growth was inhibited and cell attachment was also prevented. The herb caused long term growth inhibition of CHO cells, which was highly dependent of the cell density, because of long term exposure to Ashwagandha.
In a series of studies, ashwagandha had a profound effect on the healthy production of white blood cells in animals. It also showed that is has a good effect on thyroid activity. It was found to stimulate thyroid activity through its effect on cellular antioxidant systems. This shows that it may also be good for those suffering from hypothyroidism.
In human studies, Ashwagandha has helped patients, because of its diuretic, hypoglycemic and hypocholesterolemic effects. Six people with type 2 diabetes mellitus and six mildly hypercholesterolemic were treated with a power extract from the herb for 30 days. They found a decrease in blood sugar that was comparable to other hypoglycemic drugs prescribed today. They also found other benefits, such as decreases in serum cholesterol, triglycerides and low-density lipoproteins.
Ashwagandha has also been used as an antibacterial, antifungal and has anti tumor effects on the body.
Ashwagandha is an incredible superfood that has so many incredible effects on the body that it is no wonder that it was chosen as one of the powerful ingredients in Fitlife’s Organifi Superfood Greens Powder.
Kirsten Cowart is a writer and researcher that has worked in the spiritual, mental health and medical fields.Kirsten enjoys studying and experiencing the benefits of yoga, meditation, nutrition, herbalism, organic gardening and alternative health.She worked hard in 2014 losing over 40 lbs. and has since maintained a healthy lifestyle.Follow her to learn more about her journey on Twitter, Facebook & Youtube!
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