Jun 13 , 2022
What is Ashwagandha?
Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) is a very revered herb of the Indian Ayurvedic system of medicine as a Rasayana (tonic). The roots, leaves, and berries have been used in treatment for thousands of years. Ashwagandha is an adaptogen herb with tons of amazing benefits, from helping with stress to lowering blood sugar to helping with weight loss.
Health Benefits of Ashwagandha?
- Lowers stress hormones and can help with anxiety
- May help depression
- Helps with weight loss
- Helps with muscle-building
- Can reduce blood sugar
- Can help underactive thyroid
- Improves sleep
May Relief Anxiety
Ashwagandha has been shown in studies to help lower cortisol, which is released by the body when you are stressed. It can mainly impact anxiety levels, especially if cortisol is released frequently. Increased cortisol can also lead to weight gain, fatigue, skin problems, high blood pressure, and stretch marks. By reducing cortisol levels, ashwagandha helps with those issues and can help your body and brain more easily cope with stress.
May Relief Depression
While there haven’t been many studies done thus far, one showed that people who took ashwagandha saw a marked decrease in depression. There is also evidence that it may help with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder symptoms.
May Helps With Weight Loss
As mentioned earlier, high cortisol in the body can cause weight gain. Because ashwagandha lowers those levels, weight loss may be a side-effect of taking the herb. One study showed significant weight loss in adults with chronic stress and reduced food cravings.
May Helps With Muscle-Building
Several studies have shown that individuals who took ashwagandha saw increased muscle mass. This may be related to ashwagandha’s cortisol lowering abilities.
May Reduce Blood Sugar
Multiple studies have shown that ashwagandha has increased insulin sensitivity, preventing blood sugar from getting too high. Analyses were done with patients with diabetes and those without, and both saw reduced blood sugar levels.
May Help Underactive Thyroid
Ashwagandha appears to stimulate the endocrine system, which is the system in the body responsible for making hormones. Besides cortisol, the endocrine system is also responsible for creating hormones that stimulate the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck. The side effects of low levels include weight gain, dry skin, and fatigue. However, few human studies have been done as of yet; one showed that thyroid levels significantly increased in individuals with hypothyroidism, also known as an underactive thyroid.
May Improves Sleep
Because ashwagandha helps with stress, this can also help insomnia and promote deep sleep. Human studies are limited, but ashwagandha did show to help increase sleep quantity and quality in animals.
Other Health-Related Benefits of Ashwagandha
- May kill cancer cells.
- Increase testosterone and help sperm mobility
- May improve brain function, including in Alzheimer’s patients.
- Lowers cholesterol
- Helps inflammation
Ashwagandha comes in both tablets and powder form and has a bitter taste. Can mix it with water or juicy to mask the flavour. Some people add it to honey to negate the natural flavour, which can then be eaten plain or added to a cup of hot tea. If none of those sounds appealing to you, there is a capsule version.
Ashwagandha is typically free of side-effects in most people when taken in small to medium doses.
Before Taking Ashwagandha
Talk to your doctor before starting any supplement or vitamin plan to make sure it’s a healthy choice for you. In particular, if any of the following apply to you:
- Pregnant or breastfeeding. Pregnant women should not take ashwagandha due to the possibility of early delivery.
- Have an autoimmune disease: Speak to a doctor prior to taking ashwagandha if you have been diagnosed with lupus, type 1 diabetes, or other autoimmune disorders.
- Have blood pressure or insulin issues: As mentioned, ashwagandha may lower blood pressure or blood sugar, so it’s important to speak to your healthcare provider before taking it.
- On thyroid medication: Ashwagandha may raise thyroid hormone levels in some individuals.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as health or medical advice. Vitamin and mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.