Ashwagandha is one of the most used herbs in an Indian system of medicine – Ayurveda, and it has been used for more than three thousand years. Ashwagandha derives from the Withania somnifera plant and provides health benefits similar to Ginseng, which is why it’s sometimes called Indian Ginseng.
Ashwagandha contains a wide range of important substances for our bodies. It is rich in steroidal alkaloids like anferine, somnine and withanolides, but it also contains a large amount of iron, fatty acids, antioxidants like glycowithanolides and potassium nitrate. Leaves of Withania Somnifera are the part which is most often used in Ayurvedic medicine, but the root is where the concentration of active ingredients is the highest and that’s why this part of the plant is also quite useful.
Ashwagandha Side Effects
Neither leaves or root of Withania Somnifera should be used in those who suffer from hyperthyroidism. Furthermore, it shouldn’t be taken by pregnant women, as it is suspected it can cause an abortion. In very large doses, Ashwagandha may cause intestinal problems and, therefore, it is best to start with small doses and increase them gradually, to avoid any possible side effects. For safest use, dissolve Ashwagandha powder in milk as recommended by the traditional Indian system of medicine.
For more information please see this article on Ashwagandha side effects.
Ashwagandha is mainly used to restore strength in those suffering from lack of energy, but it is also helpful for those with weakened immune system. It has adaptogenic properties, which means that it works in different ways, depending on the problem – similar to Ginseng. Thus, it is safe to conclude that Ashwagandha has a very wide range of healing properties, which mostly depend on one’s organism. However, people have been using it for treating insomnia, arthritis, impotence, diabetes, Fibromyalgia and numerous other conditions like Parkinson’s disease, various forms of cancers and even common cold and coughs.