Ashwagandha is a popular supplement used in the Ayurvedic medicine to treat and/or prevent various health conditions. This supplement is actually a plant with a Latin name Withania somnifera, but it’s widely known as Ashwagandha which translates to “Smell of Horse“, indicating that it brings power and strength of a horse to the one who consumes it.
Ashwagandha is an Adaptogen used for lowering physical stress, as it improves muscle recruitment and motor neuron control. However, it also provides mental benefits and helps in reducing anxiety level, treating insomnia and it also aids in combat against stress-related depression by reducing cortisol levels.
Even though it’s primarily used for treating stress disorders, Ashwagandha is beneficial to those looking to improve physical performance, increase memory capabilities and recent research have shown that it might be very helpful in treating Alzheimer’s disease. What’s more, it reduces LDL cholesterol in all subjects (not just the ones who are metabolically ill), but unfortunately it is not as effective in lowering triglycerides levels as some other Ayurvedic supplements are.
Research on Ashwagandha is ongoing and many studies have already proved amazing Ashwagandha benefits.
– In this study, it was determined that Ashwagandha increases the growth of both damaged and normal nerve cells, showing a great potential in a treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.
– Another large study1 has shown that the participants experienced better sleep, reduced fatigue and a higher level of energy. Moreover, their level of cortisol was reduced by 26%, lipid profiles were improved and blood sugar levels stabilized.
– For anti-anxiety and stress reducing purposes, Ashwagandha turned out to be as effective as some antidepressant medications, like Ativan. More specifically, using it for five days in a row in an oral form reduced anxiety levels in the same way as lorazepam and imipramine.2
Like most supplements in ayurvedic medicine, Ashwagandha provides great benefits with no or little side effects, especially compared to traditional drugs.
- Unpublished study, 2005. NutrGenesis, LLC.
- Bhattacharya SK, Bhattacharya A, Sairam K, Ghosal S. Anxiolytic-antidepressant activity of Withania somnifera glycowithanolides: an experimental study. Phytomedicine. 2000 Dec;7(6):463-9