Ashwagandha, also called Indian ginseng, has long been used in Indian Ayurvedic and Ancient Chinese medicine. It is as a valuable adaptogenic herb.
What does adaptogenic mean? This word pertains to plants that help the body adapt to stress. These herbs can help return altered body processes back to normal.
Withania somnifera is a pungent nightshade bush growing to 30 inches tall. It has eliptical leaves up to 5 inches long. Flowers are small, yellow or green, and bell shaped. In addition, little red berries are inside an unusual papery balloon calyx.
Ashwaganda root is prepared as a powder, pill, tincture, or tea. Leaves and fruit have also been made into herbal preparations.
Modern scientific studies have demonstrated potential benefits of the ashwagandha herb. Below is a list of possible therapeutic actions.
Click here for research citations: Ashwagandha Research
Multiple human studies demonstrated reduced anxiety with taking an ashwaganda herb supplement (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).
Studies have shown the herb may help reduce blood sugar levels. More research is needed (6).
Research has shown a reduction in cholesterol levels. Further research is warranted (6).
Ashwagandha’s withaferin constituent is a steroidal lactone that has demonstrated anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activities in vitro (7, 8).
In two human studies, taking an ashwagandha herb supplement helped reduce arthritis. One study involved arthritis of the knees (9). The other study included participants with rheumetoid arthritis (10).
One human study showed that 50 hypothyroid patients that took an ashwagandha supplement for 8 weeks, had improved thyroid hormone levels (11, 12).
Scientific studies have shown ashwagandha may improve cognitive function in those with degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. Additional research would be needed (13).
Two human studies showed increased male sperm count with an ashwagandha herb supplement (14, 15). Another study showed improved testosterone levels in men related to taking a supplement for 16 weeks (16).
In a study with 117 menopausal women, an Ayurvedic herb blend taken for two weeks helped reduce symptoms (17).
In animal studies, treatment with ashwagandha resulted in a significant increase in hemoglobin concentration, red and white blood cell count, platelet count, and body weight (18).
Especially If you have any medical conditions, or are taking any medications, always review possible contraindications of herbs before use.
By: Kathy Sadowski, MS in Aromatherapy, RA (ARC), LMT, Professional NAHA and AIA Member.