Ashwagandha – also known as withania somnifera – has many incredible effects on the body that increase health of the mind, nerves, immune system and joints, while also increasing strength and endurance.
This powerful herb has been used in the Indian healing traditions of Ayurveda for hundreds of years. Only in the last few decades has research been conducted by scientistsd that has found a lot of evidence to back up the claims from these healers and they are now seeing why Ashwagandha is such a powerful and healing herb.
According to the Chopra Center, studies have shown that ashwagandha provides a range of health benefits, from lowering cholesterol and stabilizing blood sugar to reducing inflammation and anxiety. In turn, these benefits help fight a number of diseases, including:
- Anti inflammatory
- Anti ageing
- Chronic fatigue
- High blood pressure
- Immune system & general health
- Some cancers
- Dementia (boosts memory)
Ashwagandha also has shown to improve learning and memory. Ayurvedic practitioners recommend it as a brain booster and a remedy for forgetfulness.
How Can Ashwagandha Fight Alzheimer’s?
Studies on Ashwagandha
Researchers at Newcastle University have found that ashwagandha inhibits the formation of beta-amyloid plaques. These plaques, considered toxic to brain cells, accumulate in the brains of people with neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. Because the studies were conducted in test tubes, however, researchers emphasize that more testing is needed.
At the National Brain Research Center (NBRC), scientists tested ashwagandha on mice with Alzheimer’s. After 20 days of treatment with ashwagandha, cognitive performance of the mice improved significantly. At the end of 30 days, their brain function had returned to normal and the amyloid plaques that had been present in the mice’s brains were reduced.
Moreover, the study showed that rather than altering brain chemistry directly, ashwagandha boosts a protein in the liver. This protein clears amyloid from the brain.
Ashwagandha has an incredible effect on the nervous system and can calm down the areas of the brain that can be worn down due to excess and prolonged stress. GABA (Gamma amino-butyric acid) is an inhibitory neurotransmitter located in the brain that functions to decrease neuronal activity. This herb helps keep nerve cells from over-firing, which will have a naturally calming effect on the mind and body.
Problems from the over-firing of neurons can result in insomnia and restlessness. Since ashwagandha contains GABA, it will naturally calm the cells, helping with reducing anxiety, uplifting the mood and inducing restful sleep.
In India, Ashwagandha has been used on people for a very long time as a mood stabilizer. Research has also shown that this herb produces a natural anti-depressant and anti-anxiety effect that is comparable to antidepressant drugs such as Ativan and its effect in mice.
Other research has shown that Ashwagandha is helpful with stress induced problems such as ulcers, inhibition of male sexual drive, retention of learned activities and memory.
Ashwagandha research at the Banaras Hindu University located in Varanasi, India discovered that some of the chemicals in the herb were powerful antioxidants. In some of their studies, they found that there was an increase of three natural antioxidants superoxide: dismutase, catalas
This supports the claims of Indian Ayurvedic medicine and long term use of this powerful herb. These antioxidant effects support and explain why it has helped people reduce stress, cognition-facilitating, anti-inflammatory and anti-aging effects.
Studies have looked into the anti-inflammatory effects of Ashwagandha for the treatment of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. The research has found that this herb is effective, because it has a naturally occurring steroidal content that is much higher than that of hydrocortisone, which is normally prescribed for anti-inflammatory problems.
Research of ashwagandha has also found some awesome evidence for anti-aging properties. In a double-blind clinical trial, a group of 101 healthy males between the ages of 50-59 years old were given 3 grams daily for one year. The subjects had significant improvement in their hemoglobin, red blood cell count, seated stature and hair melanin. Serum cholesterol decreased in these men and nail calcium was preserved. 70% also reported improved sexual performance.
Immune System And General Health
Anticarcinogenic activity has also been found in Ashwagandha roots. The roots caused an inhibitory effect on around 49% of colony forming CHO cells. The cell growth was inhibited and cell attachment was also prevented. The herb caused long term growth inhibition of CHO cells, which was highly dependent of the cell density, because of long term exposure to Ashwagandha.
In a series of studies, ashwagandha had a profound effect on the healthy production of white blood cells in animals. It also showed that is has a good effect on thyroid activity. It was found to stimulate thyroid activity through its effect on cellular antioxidant systems. This shows that it may also be good for those suffering from hypothyroidism.
In human studies, Ashwagandha has helped patients, because of its diuretic, hypoglycemic and