What is Ashwagandha – Should You Try It?
If you’re a fan of natural supplements or spend time researching health-related herbs, chances are you’ve heard or come across the term “Ashwagandha.” As one of the most popular natural herbs today, Ashwagandha has gotten a lot of attention among herbal medicine enthusiasts and medical researchers alike, primarily due to its stress-relieving properties.
In this article, we’re going to look at some insights into this fantastic herb, its benefits, what scientific studies say about it, safety concerns, and how to use it.
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha, also known as Indian Ginseng or Winter Cherry, is a plant that’s native to India and parts of North Africa. Its roots and sometimes leaves have traditionally been prepared and used as a herbal medicine for a variety of health conditions. It’s considered one of the most vital herbs in the Ayurvedic medicine system, a long-time healthcare practice for maintaining youth, that has been in practice in India for over 3000 years.
What Are Its Benefits?
Though studies on most of the potential benefits of this herb are inconclusive, limited, or ongoing, Ashwagandha has historically been used to treat different types of conditions.
According to Physicians Choice, using Ashwagandha can help relieve stress and anxiety, increase energy and stamina, regulate blood sugar, and improve brain function and memory. Other benefits include treating:
- Arthritis relief
- Battling sleeping problems
- Reducing bouts of obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Helps combat infertility and sexual dysfunction
- Reduces the effects of bipolar disorder
- Prevents type 2 diabetes
- Reduces fevers
- Can help heal snake bites
What Studies Say About Ashwagandha
Today, Ashwagandha has become well-known for its adaptogenic properties that play a massive role in helping the body resist all kinds of stressors. Scientific studies have shown that it can help the body cope with specific internal stressors like anxiety, fatigue, and insomnia. Though researchers are yet to figure out exactly how this supplement works, they believe it may lessen the levels of cortisol – the stress hormone to promote relaxation.
In a 2012 scientific study that included 64 adults who experienced chronic stress, researchers found that taking two capsules of Ashwagandha root each day for 60 days helped reduce the levels of stress in the participants by 44% and the stress hormone cortisol by 28%. The herb showed better results when compared to placebo-use, which resulted in a 5.5% reduction of stress and an 8% reduction in cortisol levels.
While studies are yet inconclusive, Ashwagandha is also being studied for potential management of anxiety, improving brain function, helping with sexual dysfunction and infertility, and decreasing inflammation. Look out for more studies being done to reveal the benefits of this great herb.
Is it Safe to Use?
Ashwagandha, just like other supplements, is not well regulated. So, it’s crucial to evaluate the supplement by checking the product label to be sure of the ingredients used. Most supplements have suggested instructions for use, so take your time to read them. Ashwagandha appears to be safe for most healthy people, but large doses can lead to nausea, an upset stomach, or abdominal pain.
Be sure to talk to your doctor before taking Ashwagandha and do your homework before choosing a brand. Look for reputable brands that are independently tested for potency and safety, and those that are transparent about how and where they source their natural herb from.
How to Use Ashwagandha
If you’ve decided to give Ashwagandha a try, you might be wondering how to take it. First, this herbal supplement has an astringent and slightly bitter flavor. You can make it easier to take by adding the herbal powder to energy bites, smoothies, or morning tea. It can also be taken in the form of capsules daily to promote adrenal support and relaxation.
You can find Ashwagandha in any vitamin store, supplement department of most natural herb and food markets, or even in online retail stores. When buying online, make sure to read reviews from other buyers so you can be sure you’re buying from reputable retailers who sell quality and proven supplements.