Experts say the global herbal medicine market will reach $550 billion by 2030. It will continue to grow at a CAGR of nearly 19% until then! In this article, you’ll learn all about the natural health benefits of Ashwagandha.
But of course, as the herbal medicine market continues to explode, there’s a lot of debate on the health benefits of medicinal treatments versus chemical medicines. As researchers study herbal therapies, we should not discount their healing properties wholly.
What Is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is an ancient medicinal herb in the adaptogen category. Its adaptogen classification means it helps your body manage stress.
People have been using extracts and powder from the plant’s leaves and roots to treat various ailments for thousands of years. Today, you can find Ashwagandha in capsule form. Supplements usually contain 450-500 milligrams.
Ashwagandha has a high concentration of withanolides, which help fight inflammation and tumor growth. It’s one of the essential herbs in Ayurveda. Ayurveda focuses on natural healing using Indian principles.
In Sanskrit, Ashwagandha means “smell of the horse.” This refers to its unique smell and ability to increase strength. Other names for Ashwagandha are Indian ginseng and winter cherry.
Now that you know some history let’s dive into several of the top health benefits of Ashwagandha.
1. Reduces Stress and Anxiety
As mentioned, Ashwagandha naturally helps to reduce stress. Some research also suggests it can help improve sleep.
This is because it normalizes cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone your body releases in response to stress. It activates your fight-or-flight response.
Yet, high levels of stress and cortisol have serious adverse effects on your health over time. These include:
- Reduced immunity
- Heart problems like high blood pressure
- Nervous system problems
Ashwagandha also helps to support the adrenal glands. Adrenal function and thyroid function go hand in hand. Poor thyroid function can also lead to heart problems in the long run.
Additionally, Ayurvedic medicine associates Ashwagandha with mood-lifting effects, similar to prescription antidepressants. Scientists still need to do more research to see the connection between Ashwagandha and depression. But future results could be promising.
2. Increases Energy and Strength
Ashwagandha improves heart and lung capacity, which helps boost energy. This is excellent for people who struggle with energy levels or fatigue-related conditions.
Some studies also suggest Ashwagandha increases strength, speed, and muscle size. For example, an analysis of men using Ashwagandha saw gains in muscle size and strength. They also showed a reduction in body fat percentage and post-workout muscle damage.
3. Aids Chronic Inflammation
Users also regard Ashwagandha for its anti-inflammatory properties. Its properties encourage disease-fighting immune cells that help ward off sickness. In addition, it may act as a pain reliever.
Preliminary data shows it can prevent pain signals from traveling along the central nervous system. Inflammation is a natural response to infection and stress. But chronic inflammation can lead to:
- Heart disease
- Bowel diseases
Those with arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can relieve pain using the herb. Plus, Ashwagandha is rich in iron. Iron helps raise red blood cell count and preserve vital bodily functions.
4. Stabilizes Blood Sugar
A few small clinical studies showed Ashwagandha helped reduce blood glucose levels and triglycerides. Triglycerides are the most common type of fat in the blood. When you eat, your body converts unused calories into triglycerides.
Your body stores triglycerides in your fat cells and will release them for energy between meals.
Some people who struggle with diabetes use Ashwagandha to level out their blood sugar. It can help reduce blood sugar when it’s too high or increase blood sugar if it’s too low.
However, science is still evolving regarding the link between Ashwagandha and its blood sugar-lowering effect. Nevertheless, early evidence suggests the results are similar to medications prescribed for type 2 diabetes.
If studies can show a defined connection, it will significantly impact those with diabetes. Further, stabilizing blood sugar levels also aids depression and dementia.
5. Fights Neurodegenerative Diseases
Researchers started studying the effects of Ashwagandha on Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and Alzheimer’s diseases. Available scientific data supports the idea that the plant is a robust regenerative tonic.
Some studies suggest Ashwagandha’s active ingredient, withanolide, has protective effects against B-amyloid-induced plaques in Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers believe this is possible because of the natural antioxidants in Ashwagandha.
The role of antioxidants is to protect your cells against free radicals. Free radicals are molecules your body produces when it breaks down food or is exposed to tobacco or radiation. Thus, they can lead to heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.
Antioxidants support healthy brain function and nervous system activity. So, Ashwagandha’s antioxidants help protect your cells from damage caused by:
- Your environment
- Your lifestyle
Users of Ashwagandha also believe the plant helps boost memory and concentration. This means it could improve cognition and the ability to perform motor responses after instruction. But, there is not enough scientific evidence to fully support this idea.
6. Supports Heart Health
Due to some of its other healing properties, Ashwagandha indirectly supports heart health. This article has already highlighted many instances of that. Further, the plant may help with high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
But, new science suggests Ashwagandha can increase VO2 max levels. This is the maximum amount of oxygen you take in during physical activity. VO2 levels measure cardiorespiratory endurance, or how well the heart and lungs deliver oxygen to muscles during physical exercise.
Talk to Your Doctor About the Health Benefits of Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha undoubtedly has excellent healing properties and health benefits. Yet, that doesn’t mean it’s risk-free. At high doses, Ashwagandha’s complete nutritional profile could cause health risks.
Always speak with your doctor before adding Ashwagandha to your diet.
Contact us at Home Remedies for Life if you have suggestions or further questions about Ashwagandha. Our team is committed to providing safe, actionable tips for healthy living.