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Facts about Ashwagandha
- Ashwagandha (also known as winter cherry and Indian ginseng) is a medicinal plant used in some traditional medicine practices.
- Some research suggests that ashwagandha may reduce anxiety and chronic stress in some users.
- For other applications (helping rheumatoid arthritis, improving brain function, and generally helping the nervous system), there are no clinical trials needed to support these claims.
- Ashwagandha may be safe when taken for 30 to 90 days, but the long-term effects of ashwagandha are unknown.
- The side effects of Ashwagandha can be harmful for pregnant or breastfeeding women, diabetics, people with high or low blood pressure, stomach ulcers, autoimmune disorders, and those about to have surgery.
Ashwagandha, or “ashwagandha withania somnifera”, is a nightshade plant used in traditional medicine practices (such as Ayurveda). The plant is found in India, China, Nepal and Yemen. It is a short, leafy shrub with a strong-smelling root that is dried, ground, and ingested for its medicinal properties. In fact, the root has such a strong, distinctive smell that its name, ashwagandha, roughly translates from Sanskrit as “the smell of a horse.”
The health benefits of ashwagandha are often attributed to the high concentration of withanolides (natural steroids), which can be helpful in fighting inflammation and tumor growth. In addition, ashwagandha is believed to contain important “adaptogens” that help maintain body homeostasis and fight stress. Currently, “adaptogens” are not recognized by the European Union as a scientific concept. A recent report described this concept as requiring more clinical and preclinical research to rise above pseudoscience.
Ashwagandha is most commonly found in capsule form, and most products recommend taking around 200-300mg once or twice a day. However, many medicinal herbs and supplements, including ashwagandha, are not regulated by the FDA. Recommended dosages may vary from product to product.
There are very few high-quality human or animal studies that show the effectiveness of ashwagandha. However, the effects of ashwagandha may interact with some prescription medications and may not be safe for some. Ashwagandha should not be taken by those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, have diabetes, high or low blood pressure, stomach ulcers, autoimmune disorders, or who are about to undergo surgery.
What is ashwagandha
It is a perennial shrub of the nightshade family with yellow foul-smelling flowers and orange fruits resembling physalis. Botanically, this plant is known as Withania somnifera. And the name ashwagandha (ashwagandha) came from India (from Sanskrit Ashwagandha – “the smell of a horse”). Also sometimes the shrub is called “winter berry” and “Indian ginseng”.
For several millennia, the powder from the roots and leaves of this plantusedSteroidal lactones from Withania somnifera, an ancient plant for novel medicine , A Standardized Withania Somnifera Extract Significantly Reduces Stress-Related Parameters in Chronically Stressed Humans: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study in Indian medicine to relieve stress, increase immunity, increase energy and concentration. Today, ashwagandha is available in supplement form, and numerous scientific studies confirm that “Indian ginseng” is really good for the body.
Benefits of Ashwagandha
Many medicinal properties of the plant are due to the high concentration withanolides Steroidal lactones from Withania somnifera, an ancient plant for novel medicine- lactoid steroids withaferin A and withanolide A, named after the plant itself. These bioactive molecules have a beneficial effect on metabolism , hormone and neurotransmitter levels.
Helps fight stress
High levels of the stress hormone cortisol increase the risk of heart disease. vascular Stress Can Increase Your Risk for Heart Disease and metabolic Chronic stress, metabolism, and metabolic syndrome diseases, promote building up Stress May Cause Excess Abdominal Fat In Otherwise Slender Women, Study Conducted At Yale Shows belly fat and negative affects. Stress Effects on Neuronal Structure: Hippocampus, Amygdala, and Prefrontal Cortex on cognitive functions.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled evaluation of the anxiolytic efficacy ff an ethanolic extract of withania somniferacortisol levels at 28–30% A Prospective, Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of a High-Concentration Full-Spectrum Extract of Ashwagandha Root in Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Adults, A Standardized Withania Somnifera Extract Significantly Reduces Stress-Related Parameters in Chronically Stressed Humans: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Studyand helps to cope with stressors.
A Standardized Withania Somnifera Extract Significantly Reduces Stress-Related Parameters in Chronically Stressed Humans: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled StudyIn 2008, taking 125-250 mg of ashwagandha for 1-2 months significantly reduced the symptoms of chronic stress: improved sleep and appetite, removed constant fatigue, irritability and forgetfulness, headache and difficulty concentrating.
The same effect was observed in later research A Prospective, Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of a High-Concentration Full-Spectrum Extract of Ashwagandha Root in Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Adults. Two months of supplementation at 600 mg per day increased participants’ ability to deal with stress and improved their quality of life.
Relieves symptoms of anxiety and depression
This plant has a beneficial effect on the psyche. For example, in one study, ashwagandha supplementation reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression in participants by 71 over 6–8 weeks.6%A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults.
Perhaps this effect is explained impact Direct evidence for GABAergic activity of Withania somnifera on mammalian ionotropic GABAA and GABAρ receptorson gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain. This is the main neurotransmitter that is involved in the processes of inhibition in the nervous system, and its deficiencybind GABA, gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, and neurological diseasewith a wide range of mental illnesses.
Improves brain function
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) reverses β-amyloid1-42 induced toxicity in human neuronal cells: implications in HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) , Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal) Root Extract in Improving Memory and Cognitive Functions , Withania somnifera root powder protects againist post-traumatic stress disorder-induced memory impairmentaffects memory and other cognitive functions in people with brain disorders. Some researchers believe that “Indian ginseng” supplements can be used as part of therapy for suchdiseasesAn Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda like dementia, memory loss, Parkinson’s disease and brain damage caused by stroke.
Ashwagandha can help healthy people too. A study showed that two weeks of taking 500 mg of ashwagandha per day increase Effect of standardized aqueous extract of Withania somnifera on tests of cognitive and psychomotor performance in healthy human participants results of tests for cognitive and psychomotor functions.
Improves metabolic health
Hypoglycemic activity of withanolides and elicitated Withania somnifera production of insulin . As a result, cells are twice as good at absorbing glucose from the blood, which reduces Effects of Withania somnifera in patients of schizophrenia: A randomized, double blind, placebo controlled pilot trial study , A Standardized Withania Somnifera Extract Significantly Reduces Stress-Related Parameters in Chronically Stressed Humans: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study like sugar levels diabetics Hypoglycemic, diuretic and hypocholesterolemic effect of winter cherry (Withania somnifera, Dunal) rootas well as in healthy people.
In addition, ashwagandhareduces Hypoglycemic, diuretic and hypocholesterolemic effect of winter cherry (Withania somnifera, Dunal) root , Exploratory study to evaluate tolerability, safety, and activity of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in healthy volunteers , A Standardized Withania Somnifera Extract Significantly Reduces Stress-Related Parameters in Chronically Stressed Humans: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Studycholesterol levels and, most importantly, the amount of low and very low density lipoproteins – compounds that increase the risk of blockage of blood vessels.
Thus, taking ashwagandha supplements can serve as a prevention of metabolic disorders and diseases of the cardiovascular system, especially for people who are overweight and have a sedentary lifestyle.
May help treat cancer
Animal and cancer cell studies in vitroshowed Molecular targets and mechanisms of cancer prevention and treatment by withaferin a, a naturally occurring steroidal lactonethat withaferin A is capable of inducing apoptosis, the programmed death of cancer cells.
This substance provides Withaferin A Induces Cell Death Selectively in Androgen-Independent Prostate Cancer Cells but Not in Normal Fibroblast Cells production of reactive oxygen species inside cancer cells, thereby impairing their function, increasing sensitivity to apoptosis and preventing the growth of new tumors.
In an experiment on mice with ovarian cancer, taking Vitaferin Areduced Withaferin a alone and in combination with cisplatin suppresses growth and metastasis of ovarian cancer by targeting putative cancer stem cells tumor by 70–80% and prevented spread to other organs. In others research Effect of Withania somnifera root extract on spontaneous estrogen receptor-negative mammary cancer in MMTV/Neu mice , Stabilization of membrane bound enzyme profiles and lipid peroxidation by Withania somnifera along with paclitaxel on benzo(a)pyrene induced experimental lung cancer , Immunomodulatory effects of Withania somnifera on azoxymethane induced experimental colon cancer in mice , AshwaMAX and Withaferin A inhibits gliomas in cellular and murine orthotopic models Ashwagandha extract has been shown to improve breast, lung, colon, and brain cancers.
Improves reproductive health in men
Efficacy of Withania somnifera on seminal plasma metabolites of infertile males: a proton NMR study at 800 MHzthe quantity and quality of sperm, increases the level of male sex hormone testosterone Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial and luteinizing Withania somnifera improves semen quality by regulating reproductive hormone levels and oxidative stress in seminal plasma of infertile malesa hormone that stimulates the production of testosterone by the Leydig cells in the testes.
Yes, in one research Withania somnifera Improves Semen Quality in Stress-Related Male Fertilitytaking 5 g of ashwagandha per day increased the quality of sperm in infertile men. After three months, 14% of the participants’ partners became pregnant.
Increases strength and muscle mass
Because ashwagandha raises testosterone levels and improves muscle sensitivity to insulin, it is good for strength performance.
In one Exploratory study to evaluate tolerability, safety, and activity of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in healthy volunteersTaking 0.75-1.25 grams of ashwagandha per day for a month helped participants significantly increase the strength of the back extensors and quadriceps muscles on the front of the thigh, as well as increase grip strength, increase muscle mass and reduce body fat.
In a different experiment Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trialover eight weeks of training, men who took an extract of this plant (300 mg twice a day) increased their working weight in the bench press by 43% more than in the placebo group, and in the leg extension by 32%. In addition, in the first group, strength training caused less damage, and according to the results of the experiment, they built up much more muscle mass. The men who took ashwagandha had a 38% increase in arm circumference compared to the placebo group, and a 55% increase in chest size. The fat layer, on the contrary, decreased – the first threw off 3.5% of fat, the second – only 1.5%.
Who Shouldn’t Try Ashwagandha
Although side effects from taking ashwagandha are rare, there are people who do notrecommended12 Proven Health Benefits of Ashwagandhaexperiment with Indian herb:
- pregnant women and women during lactation;
- people with autoimmune diseases: rheumatoid arthritis , type 1 diabetes, systemic lupus erythematosus, autoimmune thyroiditis;
- those who take medications for thyroid diseases;
- those taking drugs that affect blood sugar and blood pressure.
How to take ashwagandha supplements
In order for Ashwagandha to bring only benefits to the body, be sure to consult with a therapist before taking it.
Ashwagandha is available in powder, tablets or capsules. As a rule, one capsule contains from 250 to 450 mg of powder from the roots and leaves of the shrub.
The daily norm of this plant has not been determined. In most studies, taking 450-500mg12 Proven Health Benefits of Ashwagandhaashwagandha per day gave good results and did not cause side effects. When choosing a dosage, be guided by the recommendations of the doctor and the manufacturer on the package.
In terms of course duration, in scientific experiments, people have typically taken the supplement for 2-3 months. Such a period did not cause addiction or withdrawal syndrome.
Statements about Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha has been used for thousands of years, and during that time has been used to relieve a wide range of symptoms and increase performance. These include:
Stress, aging, anxiety, athletic performance, bipolar disorder, fatigue, diabetes, high cholesterol, underactive thyroid, male infertility, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, female sexual satisfaction, hypothalamic amenorrhea, rheumatoid arthritis, immune system function, edema, tumors, cancer, and many others.
Science: Assessing the Evidence
With many unregulated natural supplements, claims regarding their use may outpace the scientific evidence to support those claims. Of all these uses described above, the most compelling evidence for its effectiveness is in the treatment of stress.
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled human trial showed that there was a statistically significant reduction in stress in subjects who received 300mg of a full-spectrum high strength ashwagandha supplement twice daily for 60 days compared with subjects who took a placebo. The study was conducted on 64 volunteers and suggests that further clinical studies may be useful.
The following is a summary of some of the claimed uses and a summary of the current clinical data supporting each use. You can find more specific information about these additional studies on the Memorial Cancer Center website. Sloan Kettering .
|Reducing stress and anxiety||Likely – demonstrated in some human studies||Several studies show that ashwagandha may be helpful in treating stress and anxiety.|
|treat diabetes||Possibly – no human evidence||Some Non-Human Studies Show Ashwagandha May Help Type 2 Diabetes|
|Reduce fatigue||Possibly one small study on cancer patients||Initial study showed some benefit – more research needed to confirm|
|Reduce the pain||maybe||Some human studies have shown a reduction in knee and joint pain. Some subjects reported nausea and stomach irritation.|
|Treat rheumatoid arthritis||Minimum evidence||Clinical research on the combination of herbs and minerals (including ashwagandha) has shown some positive results. It could be related to other ingredients.|
|As a sedative||Likely – demonstrated in animal studies||Some animal studies have shown that ashwagandha is effective as a tranquilizer. Users should be careful when taking other sedatives such as barbiturates and anticonvulsants.|
Active Ingredients in Ashwagandha and Alternative Sources
How exactly ashwagandha works is still a mystery, although several classes of active compounds have been identified. Some of the more important active compounds are listed below, along with their functions and some alternative compound sources.
|Active connection||Function||Where to find them|
|Withanolides and steroid lactones||A group of steroids of natural origin. May help with inflammation.||Various nightshade plants such as potatoes, tomatoes and eggplants.|
|Saponins||A class of compounds that may play a role in interaction with cell membranes and nutrient absorption, although there is little clinical evidence to support their utility in humans.||Wide range of plants including ginger, oats, spinach, etc.|
|alkaloids||A class of natural compounds with a wide range of pharmacological activity. Ashwagandha contains withanin and somniferin.||Similar alkaloids are found in ginseng, which is why ashwagandha is sometimes referred to as “Indian ginseng”.|
Alternative Solutions: Finding the Root Cause
You may find ashwagandha to be an effective treatment for some symptoms, however, it is still unclear if ashwagandha treats the root causes of many symptoms and how. Also, the long-term effects of ashwagandha are unknown, so long-term ashwagandha supplementation is not recommended. At this point, the symptoms may return.
Ashwagandha Warnings and Side Effects
Consumers may find ashwagandha helpful in their daily routine, but they should be aware that there is very little clinical evidence to support its effectiveness in treating anything at all. However, ashwagandha can cause side effects in some people and interact with the medications they take. It can also be harmful to pregnant or breastfeeding women. Before taking ashwagandha, it is highly recommended that you consult with your doctor or healthcare professional.
Specifically, common side effects may include “mild to moderate, short-term drowsiness, upper GI discomfort, and loose stools. Less common effects include dizziness, drowsiness, hallucinogens, dizziness, nasal congestion (rhinitis), cough, cold, decreased appetite, nausea, constipation, dry mouth, hyperactivity, night cramps, blurred vision, acidity, skin rash, and weight gain. ”
Where to find Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha can be found in most health and wellness stores, pharmacies, in the supplement section, and in various online retailers such as walmart.com, amazon.com and many more.
Because there is such wide availability, prices tend to be low. However, potential buyers should be aware of how much ashwagandha is in a single dose and how many doses a particular product contains.
Concentration and dosage
Because ashwagandha is not regulated by the FDA, there are no definitive dosage recommendations, so potential users should exercise caution when starting to use ashwagandha.
Many products available to consumers seem to recommend 200 to 300 mg of ashwagandha once or twice a day. Many products are available in capsules containing recommended dosages.
Other products may advertise much higher doses per capsule, such as 1200 mg or more. Consumers should be careful that the contents of compared capsules are the same. Some products also contain other compounds, which means that the actual amount of ashwagandha in a capsule may be much less than you think.