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A native shrub that commonly grows in India, some parts of Africa, and the Middle East, Ashwagandha is known for its multiple health benefits in Ayurveda for decades. It is also called winter cherry, poison gooseberry, or Indian ginseng by its English name and Withania somnifera in botanical terminology.
It bears orange-red fruits and bell-shaped flowers. While all parts of the Ashwagandha plant are used for some or other kind of medicinal treatment, it is the roots of Ashwagandha that are the main storehouse of medicinal properties.
Ashwagandha as a Stress Reliever
In Ayurveda, Ashwagandha is considered as ‘Rasayana’ which translates to rejuvenation. It also has ‘Vat’ and ‘Kapha’ properties which are associated with tranquillity. It is also classified as an adaptogen, a term often referred to as non-toxic plants or herbs which contain substances that contain healing properties for physical, biological, and chemical stressors. When taken in the right dosage, it can reduce oxidative stress and depression to have a calming effect on a person.
Earlier research found that Ashwagandha lowers anxiety levels and offered a similar level of relief as a sedative and anxiety medicine called Lorazepam. Another study confirmed that Ashwagandha also reduces cortisol levels, a stress hormone that can trigger high blood sugar and high-fat storage in the abdomen if it remains uncontrolled. A new study also established that Ashwagandha reduces stress and anxiety, thereby improving sleep quality.
Ashwagandha as an Energiser
There is an interesting fact behind Ashwagandha’s name – it means the one which smells like a horse. ‘Ashwa’ means horse and ‘gandha’ means smell. So, if you happen to get a whiff of the fresh roots of Ashwagandha, you are likely to associate it with a horse! There is another analogy – since horses are virile and strong animals, Ashwagandha is also known to build a healthy reproductive system in men. Hence, Ashwagandha is also consumed for its energizing properties.
Ayurveda experts believe that Ashwagandha contains aphrodisiac properties that aid in the proper function of adrenals that are responsible for strength and performance. A study found that Ashwagandha could also be effective in treating male sexual dysfunction and infertility.
Other Benefits of Ashwagandha
The use of Ashwagandha is not restricted to stress relief and energy boost. It can also provide other health benefits:
- Builds immunity
- Relieves arthritis pain
- Reduces inflammation
- Improves heart health by lowering cholesterol and triglycerides
- Prevents cell growth in some type of cancers
- Improves brain function and memory
- Regular thyroid hormones
- Slowdowns or stops loss of brain function in Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s patients.
Consumption of Ashwagandha
The easiest and safest way to consume Ashwagandha is through natural, vegan, gluten-free, and Non-GMO supplements. You can take the supplement in the form of a capsule either with a glass of water, adding its contents to in a smoothie/any other health drinks or salads or sprinkling it over salad.
Ashwagandha is a wonder drug as per Ayurveda. It is advisable to consume it if you are suffering from any ailments that are described above.
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