the ashwagandha (Withania somnifera L.) It is also known by the names of “oroval” and “bufera somnífera” (in Catalan). It is a very popular herb in Indian Ayurvedic medicine, Appreciated for its adaptogenic and revitalizing properties.
according to published study in the medical journal cureus, ashwagandha extracts have positive effects in relieving stress and anxiety. Apart from this, Several health benefits are attributed to it. We will tell you more about it below.
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is called, in various territories and cultures, by a wide variety of names. Some are phonetically similar, such as Ajagandha, Asgandha or Ashvagandha. But it is also known as Ayurvedic Ginseng or Indian Ginseng, including Cerise d’Hiver and Winter Cherry (winter cherry, respectively in French and English).
It is a plant that belongs to the Solanaceae family., which also includes tomatoes, tobacco and potatoes. Ashwagandha grows 60 to 120 centimeters tall, with semi-woody stems, oblong-oval leaves, and greenish-yellow bell-shaped flowers.
Its fruit is spherical, small and bright red (hence some of its many names). However, of this type Various parts, including the leaves, are used, as well as extracts or powder from the rootwhich are the most commercialized forms.
Ashwagandha crops are usually found in India and Pakistan; however both the supplements and the leaves of the plant are now distributed in many other countries.
Properties of Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha stands out for its content in biologically active chemical compoundsincluding alkaloids, steroid lactones and soponins.
Other substances contained in this plant are the following:
- Triethylene glycol: In Clinical studies with mice this substance has shown interesting effects against insomnia.
- Flavonoids: Known for their ability to inhibit the effects of oxidative stress.
- Mineral salts: such as iron and potassium.
Health benefits of ashwagandha
There are various health benefits that ashwagandha offers; many are scientifically proven. In this sense, anti-inflammatory, sedative, antioxidant, antidiabetic and revitalizing properties are attributed to it. Let’s see in more detail.
1. Reduce states of stress
Ashwagandha has been classified as an adaptogen remedy, i.e. it has the ability to increase the body’s resistance to situations of physical and mental stress. A research published in Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine determined that supplements of this plant help reduce cortisol levels.
2. Control anxiety
Therefore, researchers believe that it is a good supplement against episodes of stress and anxiety. In particular, a relaxing effect is attributed to it, since regulates chemical signaling of the nervous system which causes the feeling of tension.
3. Reduces symptoms of depression
Depression is a mental health problem that requires professional intervention. For this reason, herbal supplements they should not be considered a first-line treatment to control symptoms. Even so, some plants have shown the potential to improve mood in the face of this condition.
In a controlled study that was disclosed in Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, 64 adults received 600 milligrams of a highly concentrated ashwagandha extract each day. After 60 days, 79% reported a reduction in major depression symptoms. Nonetheless, more evidence is needed.
4. Helps regulate glucose levels
While not considered a remedy for diabetes, some research has found that ashwagandha has the ability to regulate blood glucose levels.
In this sense, in the a test tube studypublished by the magazine phytochemistry, It has been noted that increased insulin secretion and improved sensitivity to this hormone in muscle cells.
On the other hand, being a clinical trial published in Indian Journal of Experimental Biology it was established that the extracts of this medicinal herb help regulate sugar levels both in healthy people and in people with diabetes.
5. Promotes the increase in muscle mass
Lovers of sport and life fitness you can find in ashwagandha a natural supplement to increase muscle mass. Indeed, as they say randomized controlled trial in Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, Ashwagandha improves body composition and increases muscle strength.
6. Reduction of body fat
It even appears to help reduce body fat percentage. Of course, for this to happen, the same they should be incorporated into the framework of a healthy diet and good habitslike exercise.
7. Helps fight inflammation
A large number of diseases are attributed to a lack of control over markers of inflammation. About this, animal studies suggest that ashwagandha has anti-inflammatory properties that help keep the body healthy.
8. Risk of heart disease
In human studiesthe components of the plant increased activity of immune cells that fight infection and which are also essential for regulating inflammatory processes. It has also been observed to decrease the C-reactive protein (CRP)a marker associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
9. Lowers cholesterol and triglycerides
According to anecdotal data, another reason why the Withania somnifera L. can be a supplement to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease is due to the fact that helps control cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood.
A rat research determined that Ashwagandha helped reduce total cholesterol and triglycerides by 53% and nearly 45%, respectively. Likewise, a decrease in bad or LDL cholesterol levels has been observed. As in the previous cases, more evidence is needed.
10. Antioxidant activity
The antioxidant activity that ashwagandha has helps protect nerve cells from the negative effects of free radicals. In a research published in Neurochemical research, rats with epilepsy that were treated with this plant showed a decrease in spatial memory impairment.
11. Helps improve brain function
In the same order of ideas, in a study of Pharmacognosy research, a group of healthy men took 500 milligrams of standardized ashwagandha extract daily. Ultimately, they reported significant improvements in their performance and reaction times compared to those given the placebo.
12. Sleep disturbances
Thanks to its withanolide and triethylene glycol content It is recommended compared to the plant Helps reduce sleep disturbances. In particular, it decreases the recurrence of insomnia.
13. Treatment of anemia
In Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha is used to reduce states of nervous fatigue, weakness and iron deficiency anemia. Apparently, its extracts help increase hemoglobin and erythrocyte levels.
14. Increases physical performance
In Education Ashwagandha has been proven can affect the increase in respiratory capacity and muscle strength during intense physical activity.
15. Increases energy levels
Similarly to the previous point, ashwagandha is believed to be It is revitalizing, not only for athletes but also for the elderlyhelping fight low mood and vitality.
16. Rheumatic affections
Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, It is used as a supplement against rheumatic conditions, reducing deterioration in tendons, ligaments, joints e bone. Although this is still under investigation.
In India, their supplements HE been traditionally used to improve sexual response, which could have a positive effect on fertility; although there is no conclusive evidence.
18. Production of thyroid hormones
They have been made essays which allow us to state that the treatment with Withania somnifera may be useful in normalizing thyroid indices in patients with subclinical hypothyroidism.
19. Increased immunity
It is attributed to ashwagandha an effect on the increase in leukocytes, which would strengthen the immune systemhelping to prevent any infections.
20. Decreased bone loss
In Education in vitro It has been found that the consumption of Withania somnifera Candies fheal bone lossTherefore, applied to humans, it would be good news for osteoporosis sufferers.
21. A hope for cancer
The use of withanolide extracts (withaferin A) promising for the treatment of some types of cancerby inhibiting the growth of cancer cells. Although the results are still inconclusive.
Contraindications of ashwagandha
All herbal remedies derived from ashwagandha should be used with care. As with other herbs, there are risks of side effects and possible interactions. In this case, its alkaloid content makes it incompatible with some patients and their medical treatments.
In general, ashwagandha is contraindicated in the following cases:
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- Children under 12 years old.
- Gastric tenderness.
- Treatments with antidepressants such as zolpiden, clonazepam, sertraline and others.
- Use of sleeping pills.
- Medicines for hypertension or high cholesterol: here the medical consultation prevails before consuming it.
Dosage and presentations
To date, there is no data on an exact ashwagandha dosage. Despite this, root extracts range from 300 to 500 milligrams per day. In tea, 3 to 5 grams per day are usually used. The plant can be found in any herbalist’s shop in the following presentations:
- Dried, minced or powdered root, to be used in decoction.
- Dried or pulverized leaves for infusion.
- Dried or dehydrated berries (without the seeds).
- liquid extracts.
- Root extract powder.
What should we remember?
Ashwagandha is popular in Ayurvedic medicine for its antioxidant and revitalizing action. in folk medicine It is recognized as a supplement for reducing stress, anxiety and other mood disorders. In addition, it is also recommended to take care of cardiovascular health and improve physical condition.
Anyway, it should not be consumed excessively, but you need to take some precautions. It should be borne in mind that there are some contraindicated cases, in which it can be harmful.
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