Ashwagandha – Health Benefits, Uses, Research, Preparation, Precautions
Ashwagandha is an herb from India which has been used for thousands of years. It is now popular worldwide as an adaptogen. Adaptogenic herbs help people tolerate physical and mental stress. They increase endurance and enhance immune health.
I consider ashwagandha to be one of the best adaptogens, as it is powerful, but not overly stimulating. People who are unable to tolerate some of the other adaptogens, such as Asian ginseng, are often able to reap the adaptogenic benefits of ashwagandha without troubling side effects.
This article on ashwagandha was written for Insights-on-Health.com by Patricia Bratianu RN PhD RH-AHG. Find out more about her at the end of this article.
Winter cherry, Indian Ginseng, (withania somnifera)
Traditional and Modern Health Uses of Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha was traditionally used as a remedy for impotence and as an aphrodisiac. Other traditional uses are similar to current uses.
Ashwagandha contains a vast array of healing compounds. It is physically and mentally relaxing. The relaxant effects do not cause drowsiness, however. Energy is actually enhanced. The herb is used to treat exhaustion. This makes ashwagandha valuable for sufferers of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. Ashwagandha has antidepressant actions. It increases memory and prevents seizures.
Smooth muscles relax in the presence of ashwagandha. This makes the herb useful for lowering blood pressure and protecting the health of the heart and blood vessels. It aids the respiratory tract by relaxing and opening up the breathing passages within the lungs.
Digestive, bladder, and uterine spasms and cramps are relieved. Ashwagandha not only relieves gastrointestinal discomfort, it protects the stomach from the formation of gastric ulcers.
Potent anti-inflammatory compounds contained within ashwagandha make the herb an effective remedy for many types of arthritis and auto-immune diseases. Inflammatory conditions, such as multiple sclerosis and asthma, may respond well to ashwagandha.
Ashwagandha helps to stimulate the appetite among weakened and elderly individuals.
Current Research about the Healing Benefits of Ashwagandha
Several studies indicate that ashwagandha may be useful as an adjunct to conventional treatments for cancer. In addition to relieving fatigue, the herb can protect bones which may be weakened by treatments for cancer. This helps to maintain healthy blood cell counts which are often damaged when radiation treatments and chemotherapies are used. Ashwagandha may help patients suffering from cancer to maintain a healthy weight.
A 2014 study by researchers Pingali U, Pilli R, Fatima N. indicated that ashwagandha may reduce stress-related cardiovascular changes.
Ongoing research is exploring the effects of ashwagandha on many aspects of health and illness.
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