Ashwagandha is becoming known as an all-star on the natural healthcare stage. This herb, also called Indian Ginseng, offers a variety of health benefits, from reducing stress to fighting cancer. Native American, African, and Oriental cultures have long understood and appreciated the medical uses for ashwagandha. Read on to learn more about the many health benefits that this ancient herb provides.
Health Benefits of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
1. Cancer-Fighting Properties
Recent research has suggested that ashwagandha can enhance the efficacy of traditional cancer treatments, such as radiation and chemotherapy. Taking this herb during cancer treatment can also reduce negative side effects of chemotherapy. Because it is rich in antioxidants, ashwagandha also helps to eliminate free radicals from the body, lowering one’s chance for cancer in the first place.
2. Reduces Inflammation
Because it can inhibit cyclooxygenase production, ashwagandha can successfully reduce inflammation in the body. The Los Angeles College of Chiropractors conducted research which suggests that the herb’s alkaloids, saponins, and steroidal lactones reduce swelling in the muscles and joints.
3. Antibacterial Properties
This herb has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat bacterial infections. A study completed at the Centre for Biotechnology at the University of Allahabad in India supports this use for ashwagandha. Because of this antibacterial property, it may effectively treat respiratory and gastrointestinal infections as well.
4. Supports Healthy Heart
In addition to reducing inflammation in the body, ashwagandha is also rich in antioxidants, which helps to reduce stress in the body. In turn, these benefits help to protect the heart and reduce your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other heart issues.
The herb also acts as a natural anti-depressant, as corroborated by a study done at the Institute of Medical Sciences at Banaras Hindu University in India.
6. Fights Diabetes
Recent studies and experiments provide promising evidence that ashwagandha can regulate blood sugar levels, which could in turn help prevent and reverse diabetes.
7. Protects Eye Health
Ashwagandha was shown to prevent cataract disease and protect overall ocular health.
8. Regulation of Immune System
A report published in 1996 in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology showed that consuming this herb can significantly modulate the immune system and prevent myelosuppression in mice. Ashwagandha also increases the production of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets, which also helps combat immunosuppression (which can be a result of many pharmaceutical drugs). The herb’s ability to stimulate blood cell creation in the body can also help those who suffer from anemia.
Ashwagandha may also be successful in helping to set the mood. Cultures have long used the herb as an aphrodisiac, as well as to improve fertility. A recent study published in fertility and Sterility suggested that ashwagandha is not only an important component in aphrodisiac medicine, but that it also improves semen quality in men.
The herb has been used for centuries to treat and prevent seizures and convulsions, and is considered an important part of Ayurvedic medicine.
How to Use Ashwagandha
Clearly, ashwagandha offers a wide variety of health benefits, and is not an herb to be ignored. You can consume the herb as a tea, or you may find the root in powdered, liquid, or capsule form. Most people opt for the powdered form, and add some to a glass of milk every day for easy consumption. The recommended dosage for most adults is 5-6 grams of powder, but you will want to work with a professional to find the right dosage for yourself.
To make Ashwagandha tea, boil the root for 15 minutes undisturbed. Afterwards, pull the root from the liquid and strain to separate the tea from any lingering leaves. Unlike other floral treatments, the taste of this has a mild bitterness to it but that can be changed by adding honey to the tea. Twice a day, drink about ¼ cup of this tea.
To make Ashwagandha Tincture, in a jar, combine a half cup of dried, chopped Ashwagandha root with high proof (over 70), natural and non-modified clear alcohol. You can use either rum or vodka, just be sure to have enough to completely submerge the root. Over the next 3-4 months, keep the jar in a cool, dry and dark area, shaking it every few weeks. This medicine should be stored in either cobalt or amber bottles that have eye droppers. You can drink this by adding about 45 drops to 4 ounces of water.
For safety reasons, you never want to exceed the recommended allowance of Ashwagandha, which is less than one gram per day. There are, however, certain groups that should avoid this root treatment altogether; people with low blood sugar, liver failure or disease or pregnant women should not use this.