Ashwagandha, commonly known as Indian winter cherry or Indian ginseng, is one of the most important ayurvedic herbs. This root smells like a horse (ashwa), and hence it is known as Ashwagandha.
For 6000 years, this ancient herb has found itself multiple uses like a diuretic, stimulant, tonic, reducing pain, and boosting brain function. Ashwagandha is also classified as an “adaptogen,” which means that it can help one to manage stress.
Here are 5 of the many benefits of Ashwagandha
Benefits of Ashwagandha for stress is known by many. Cortisol, a hormone, is released by the body in response to stress. This hormone is central to the flight-or-fight mechanism. However, this should be followed by physical activity, or else it causes build up of cortisol levels in the body. This is typically seen in people with chronic stress. Ashwagandha is seen to inhibit the stress pathway by regulating GABA activity (chemical signaling) of the brain, thereby reducing cortisol levels. Research done on 39 people suggested reduction of stress in 88.2% of the population who were on ashwagandha for 6 weeks, compared to 50% who were on placebo.
2.Increasing muscle mass and strength
Ashwagandha aids increase of muscle strength and mass and can be used as a conjugant to resistance training. Research has shown that taking 300 mg of Ashwagandha root extract every day for 8 weeks, resulted in a significant increase in muscle strength and mass. It also resulted in the loss of body fat percentage, as compared to the placebo group.
Ashwagandha has anti-tumorigenic properties. Bioactive compounds present in roots, leaves, and stem of Ashwagandha result in apoptosis (cell death) of tumor cells and inhibit their proliferation. In a study conducted on a mouse model of cervical cancer, it was shown that consuming Ashwagandha 8 mg/kg body weight for 6 weeks leads to a 70% reduction of the tumor volume.
Angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels) is a vital process that aids tumor growth. Ashwagandha is a potent inhibitor of angiogenesis, preventing the growth of tumors. It also has chemopreventive potential. Administration of 20 mg/kg for 14 weeks is seen to prevent several types of tumors in animal models.
4.Improves male infertility
Male infertility benefits of Ashwagandha in hindi are remarkable. Traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine classifies Ashwagandha as an aphrodisiac. Low sperm count and testosterone levels are the commonest cause of male infertility. Consuming Ashwagandha root extract is seen to improve sperm count and motility. A study conducted on males, where 675 mg/d of Ashwagandha was given in three doses for 90 days, showed 53% rise in semen volume and 57% increase in sperm motility, compared to a minimal change in the placebo-treated group.
Moreover, Ashwagandha is seen to counteract the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Higher levels of ROS in semen is associated with oxidative sperm damage and abnormal semen parameters.
The anti-inflammatory property of Ashwagandha is due to its inhibitory effect on substances secreted by the immune cells (cytokines), which results in inflammation. It is also seen to increase anti-inflammatory cytokines. Ashwagandha also increases immune cells (natural killer cells) that fight infection.
Ashwagandha is an ancient herb with numerous health benefits. These include benefits of Ashwagandha for stress and male infertility benefits of Ashwagandha. This herb is made up of several medicinal chemicals. Though leaves and fruits can be used for therapeutic effects, the root of the plant is most commonly used. Ashwagandha powder benefits in getting rid of various ailments and can be used as a natural alternative to modern medications. Though Ashwagandha is safe, it is contraindicated during pregnancy and should be used only after consulting a physician.