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Ashwagandha, a revered herb in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, has captured the attention of modern science for its wide-ranging health benefits. From reducing stress and anxiety to improving sleep and cognitive function, this ancient plant has a lot to offer.
In this article, we’ll delve into the research-backed advantages of incorporating Ashwagandha into your routine, helping you make an informed decision about whether this herbal remedy is right for you.
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is a medicinal herb that has been a cornerstone in Ayurvedic medicine for over 2,500 years. Native to India and North Africa, this plant goes by the botanical name Withania somnifera. Its roots and orange-red fruit have a range of applications, from reducing stress to improving physical stamina. Ashwagandha belongs to the nightshade family, but don’t let that scare you; it’s the beneficial compounds in the plant, like withanolides and alkaloids, that make it a powerhouse for health and well-being. In the modern age, Ashwagandha is commonly consumed as a supplement, usually in capsule or powder form, making it accessible for those interested in exploring its numerous benefits.
What Are the Benefits of Ashwagandha?
- Brain Health: Ashwagandha is known for its adaptogenic properties, which help the body adapt to stress.
- Sleep: In an eight-week study on stressed adults, researchers looked at the effects of Ashwagandha root extract on stress, anxiety, and sleep quality. Participants took either 125 mg or 300 mg of Ashwagandha extract capsules twice a day. Results showed that both 250 mg/day and 600 mg/day dosages significantly reduced stress and cortisol levels. Additionally, those taking Ashwagandha saw an improvement in sleep quality. The study concluded that Ashwagandha root extract effectively reduces stress and anxiety. [PMC6979308]
- Anxiety and Stress: A randomized trial showed that Ashwagandha (500 mg) for 60 days (12.5 mg withanolides/day) alleviated stress and anxiety in healthy individuals with mild to moderate symptoms. [PMC10578737]
- Improves Sleep Quality: The herb has calming effects that can lead to better sleep, making it a natural choice for those battling insomnia. Researchers who reviewed the studies said, “The effects on sleep were more prominent in the subgroup of adults diagnosed with insomnia, treatment dosage ≥600 mg/day, and treatment duration ≥8 weeks.” [PMC8462692]
- Enhances Cognitive Function: Some studies suggest that Ashwagandha can improve memory, focus, and overall cognitive performance. [PMID: 28471731] [PMC9565281] It has been used as an Ayurvedic treatment for dementia. [PMC5976976]
- Executive Function: A trial Acute supplementation with 400 mg of ashwagandha improved selected measures of executive function, helped sustain attention, and increased short-term/working memory. [PMC9565281]
- Boosts Immunity: Ashwagandha can help regulate the immune system. A human study showed that people taking 60 mg of ashwagandha had “increases in different types of immunoglobulins, cytokines, and TBNK cells, all of which are vital for a strong immune system.” [PMC8397213]
- Supports Physical Performance: Ashwagandha can enhance endurance and reduce muscle fatigue, which is beneficial for athletes or anyone engaged in physical activity. [PMC8006238]
- Improves Blood Sugar: Some research indicates that Ashwagandha can help maintain healthy blood sugar levels. [PMID: 31975514]
- Promotes Heart Health: This herb has been associated with lower cholesterol levels and improved heart function. [PMC10147008]
- Arthritis: Ashwagandha has anti-inflammatory properties that can be useful in managing conditions like arthritis. [PMC5052364]
- Depression: Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) shows promise in treating depression as well as stress, anxiety, and insomnia. It acts primarily by affecting stress response systems and neurotransmitter pathways. [PMC8762185]
- Enhances Mood: Some people report mood improvement and a sense of well-being when taking this herb. [PMC8632422]
- Anti-Cancer Properties: Some lab studies suggest that Ashwagandha might have properties that inhibit the growth of cancer cells, although more research is needed to confirm this. [PMC9629854]
- Supports Thyroid Function: Ashwagandha might help regulate thyroid hormones, but research is sparse. [PMID: 28829155]
- Aids Male Fertility: Some studies show that this herb can improve sperm quality and fertility in men. [PMID: 29277366]
- Improves Skin Health: The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits can also be good for your skin, leading to a clearer complexion. [PMC10017910]
- Helps Adapt to High Altitude: Anecdotal evidence suggests that Ashwagandha may help the body adapt to high altitude conditions, although scientific support is limited.
Is Ashwagandha Safe?
One of the encouraging aspects of Ashwagandha use is its safety profile. Studies involving the herb have generally reported no significant adverse events. While it’s always important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement, especially if you’re pregnant, nursing, or taking other medications, Ashwagandha’s track record suggests that it’s a relatively safe choice for those looking to improve various aspects of their health.
Medication Interactions with Ashwagandha
- Sedatives (Benzodiazepines, barbiturates): May amplify sedative effects.
- Antidepressants (SSRIs, SNRIs): Possible interaction affecting mood and serotonin levels.
- Thyroid medications (Levothyroxine): Could alter thyroid hormone levels.
- Blood Thinners (Warfarin, Heparin): Potential for increased bleeding risk.
- Antihypertensives (ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers): May lower blood pressure too much.
- Immunosuppressants (Cyclosporine, tacrolimus): Could affect immune response.
- Diabetes medications (Insulin, metformin): Might affect blood sugar levels.
- Chemotherapy drugs: Possible interactions affecting efficacy or toxicity.
- Hormonal medications (Birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy): May impact hormone levels.
- Alcohol: May amplify sedative effects, although not a medication.
Note: This list is not exhaustive.
Supplement Interactions with Ashwagandha
- St. John’s Wort: Possible interaction affecting mood and serotonin levels.
- Valerian Root: May amplify sedative effects.
- Ginkgo Biloba: Potential for increased bleeding risk.
- Melatonin: Could enhance sedative effects.
- Lavender: Possible amplification of sedative effects.
- Kava Kava: May increase sedation and drowsiness.
- Licorice Root: Could interact with blood pressure and cortisol levels.
- Ginseng: May affect blood sugar and immune response.
- Rhodiola: Potential interaction affecting stress and cortisol levels.
Note: This list is not exhaustive.
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Ashwagandha 500mg (Withania somnifera) by Nature’s Way
Life can be stressful — there’s no doubt about that! Ashwagandha can help you handle the little things each day throws your way.* It’s an adaptogen used to help your body adapt to daily stressors.* Ashwagandha has been used as an ayurvedic herbal for over 3,000 years and is native to India, the Middle East, and Africa.
Suggested Use: Take 1 capsule, two to three times daily, preferably with food or water.
Amount Per 1 Capsule Serving
Ashwagandha Root Extract … 500mg (3.5% withanolides) (17.5mg)
Ashwagandha by Herb Pharm
Herb Pharm prepares their Ashwagandha Extract from the dry whole root of Withania somnifera plants which are Certified Organic. To assure optimal extraction of Ashwagandhas bioactive compounds, the root is hand-harvested at the peak of readiness, is carefully shade-dried to retain its full color and aroma, and is then thoroughly extracted.
Shake Well Before Using
Add one full squeeze of the dropper bulb to 2oz. of water or juice, two or three times per day. Best taken between meals.
Certified organic alcohol, distilled water and Certified Organic Ashwagandha extractives. non-GMO and GLUTEN-FREE
Potency: Dry herb / menstruum ratio: 1 : 4
Although this article discusses supplements in detail, don’t forget that we are absolutely committed to the “Food First” approach to nutrition. When it comes to your health, the totality of your eating habits far surpasses the impact of individual nutrients or any single supplement you consume. Even though this article doesn’t delve into the broader picture of your overall diet, it’s crucial to keep this element at the forefront of our minds. Your food needs to provide all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals to nourish your body systems down to the cellular level.
Food choices, rather than supplements, are the most critical factors for a healthy gut microbiome. These trillions of tiny inhabitants in your gut affect your brain waves; they orchestrate your immune system. They possess the power to create molecules that can switch genes on or off and are even capable of synthesizing neurotransmitters. Opting for organic foods and steering clear of plastic packaging (including those labeled BPA-free) is a smart move to limit toxin exposure. The sum of all these parts leads to a powerful conclusion: the ultimate key to your health lies in the quality and balance of the food you consume. Supplements are secondary.
To Sum It Up
Ashwagandha offers multiple health benefits supported by scientific studies. It is known to reduce stress and anxiety by impacting cortisol levels. Memory and cognitive function also see improvements, as shown in tests on working memory and reaction time. When it comes to sleep, studies and users report better quality rest. Immune system support is another benefit, with evidence pointing to increased levels of key immune cells. Physical performance enhancement is noted as well, particularly in terms of increased stamina and reduced fatigue. Lastly, some studies suggest it could help manage blood sugar levels, although more research is needed in this area. Overall, Ashwagandha is a multi-faceted supplement for various aspects of health.
This Article is Not a Substitute for Medical Advice
Dietary supplements are not designed to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The Supplement Sciences website seeks to provide comprehensive access to the most relevant supplement information along with convenient online ordering. We do not provide medical advice and cannot guarantee that every product suggested is completely without risk. Since each person is unique in their health history and medication use, it is important to discuss supplements with your personal physician. Specifically, pregnant women and individuals being treated for cancer or liver or kidney problems must consult their physician about every nutritional supplement they plan to take. People taking medications for the treatment of HIV or with a history of organ transplant must not take supplements without consulting with their physician.