Over recent years, an Ayurvedic herb called ashwagandha has risen to prominence as an important adaptogen. But if you are relatively new to adaptogens, you may not know much about them or about ashwagandha in particular.
An “adaptogen” is simply a substance which helps to reduce stress and restore balance in your body. Ashwagandha extract comes from the Withania somnifera plant, and may sometimes also be called Indian ginseng or winter cherry.
Is ashwagandha for you? Following are a few of its potential health advantages based on research evidence.
The main reason why many people take adaptogens such as ashwagandha is to combat stress and restore adrenal balance.
In this study, researchers found several different dosages of ashwagandha to be effective in reducing cortisol levels. The group which was assigned the highest dosage of ashwagandha had an average of 30% less cortisol than the control group participants.
Along with that reduction in cortisol, the researchers noted “reduced experiential feelings of stress and anxiety … pulse rate and blood pressure; and increased serum concentration of DHEAS in the chronically stressed adults who completed the study.”
Reducing blood pressure may not be the only cardiovascular benefit of taking ashwagandha.
This paper says, “Withania somnifera (WS) is a herb in the Ayurvedic system of medicine and has been found to decrease blood glucose comparable to an oral hypoglycaemic. A significant increase in urine sodium and urine volume, and a significant decrease in serum cholesterol, triglycerides, low-density lipoproteins, and very low density lipoproteins have been reported with use of WS, indicating its potential use as a diuretic and hypocholesterolemic agent.”
So, if you need to get your blood sugar and triglycerides under control, ashwagandha may be able to help. This may make it a useful herb if you are diabetic or pre-diabetic.
If you have an anxiety disorder, ashwagandha may be able to help you decrease your symptoms.
In this double-blind study, 88% of participants who used ashwagandha said that their anxiety levels decreased over a six-week period.
While this study was also looking into benefits for stress and anxiety, the researchers noted that 600 mg of concentrated ashwagandha was associated with a 79% decrease in depression symptoms.
More research is needed in this area. Right now, there is not enough data to be conclusive.
While many people take ashwagandha to treat high levels of stress, another common use for this herb is to improve fertility.
As a powerful antioxidant, ashwagandha is able to give testosterone levels a boost.
Additional research shows that this may lead to an increase in fertility as well.
Now you know more about ashwagandha and what has brought this adaptogenic herb to such prominence over recent years.
More and more people are discovering the benefits of ashwagandha for stress, anxiety, depression, cardiovascular health, hormone levels and fertility.
Consider giving ashwagandha a try if you want to improve your mood and support a healthy body. For the best results, take it consistently over a period of weeks or months.
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