Ashwagandha has been used as an herbal remedy for hundreds of years to help the body deal with stress. It has also been used traditionally for pain relief and to treat skin diseases, diabetes, gastrointestinal disease, rheumatoid arthritis, epilepsy and many other conditions naturally.
It has many applications, and has been used by Native Americans and Africans to treat inflammation, fevers, and to protect against infection or illness. It has also been used to boost the immune system, improve memory, and to promote overall wellness.
Ashwagandha exhibits greater clinical benefit than psychotherapy in mental health (anxiety level), concentration, fatigue, social functioning, vitality, and overall quality of life.
Ashwagandha also known commonly as Indian ginseng, poison gooseberry,or winter cherry is a plant that flourishes in India and North America. The roots of the ashwagandha plant have been employed for millennia by Ayurvedic healers. Ashwagandha has many beneficial elements, including flavonoids and members of the withanolide class. Numerous modern studies have found that ashwagandha shows great promise for being effective in reducing inflammation, decreasing stress, increasing mental activity, invigorating the body, and as an antioxidant. It is even known to relieve arthritis better than medication.
Scholars at Banaras Hindu University, located in Varanasi, India, have conducted research that has shown that many of the elements of ashwagandha are antioxidants. The researchers looked at the effects these elements have on the brains of test animals and found that ashwagandha led to larger amounts of three different natural antioxidants: superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase. The scholars conclude, “These findings are consistent with the therapeutic use of W. somnifera as an Ayurvedic rasayana (health promoter). The antioxidant effect of active principles of W. somnifera may explain, at least in part, the reported anti-stress, cognition-facilitating, anti-inflammatory and anti-aging effects produced by them in experimental animals, and in clinical situations."
For years, it has been prescribed in many countries as a treatment for cerebral disorders in the elderly, including memory loss. Scholars from the University of Leipzig looked at the effects of ashwagandha on the brain. They dosed rats with ashwagandha and then looked at their brains to see if ashwagandha affected neurotransmitters. The research showed that ashwagandha led to more acetylcholine receptor activity. The scholars concluded that the increase of activity in that particular neurotransmitter could account for the increase in cognitive ability and memory that is attributed to ashwagandha.
Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center also looked at the effects of ashwagandha. They found that extracts of the shrub had activity that was similar to GABA, which could explain why the plant is effective in reducing anxiety.
Another study, conducted in 2002, found that ashwagandha leads to increased growth of axons and dendrites. Another study in 2001 found that the plant can enhance memory. A 2000 project indicated that ashwagandha reduced anxiety and depression in animals.
Following are its indications:
- It is considered as most important adaptogens in ayurvedic system of medicine.
- It works in suppressing pains of any sort. It possess this property due to its ushan virya potency, which helps in eradicating vata that is the reason of initiation of pain in body.
- Good results have been seen in diseases like Amavata (rheumatoid arthritis), sandhi gata vata (Osteoarthritis), vatarakt (gout), gridhasi (sciatica) and other vata dominant diseases.
- Works as anti-inflammatory substance therefore helps in reducing swellings and restoring blood supply.
- Its local application also has tremendous results in lymphadenopathy, goiter and on any body part which is supposed to have inflammation and pain
- Possess great healing properties therefore has great effects in healing wounds and injuries
- It relieves stress due to presence of vata suppressant properties which helps in nurturing nervous system
- Helps in promoting calmness and mental satisfaction in mind due to its good penetrating powers, which helps to counter negative adaptogens.
- It helps in relieving from the feel of numbness and burning sensation in extremities.
- Helps in providing nourishment to the brain for its better function and greater ability to work.
- It is often given in a person who regularly suffers from vertigo, uncautiousness, and depression as it helps in curbing mental and physical weakness.
- Improves mental ability, helps in gaining retaining power and improves mental concentration
- Increases muscular endurance and helps in building up of stamina.
- Revitalizes body and decreases untimely fatigue caused due weak body strength accumulation of negative energies in the body.
- Works as a rasayan i.e. a substance that helps in preventing early aging and rejuvenates whole body to provide youth.
- It works as powerful immune booster that helps in fighting any foreign invasion in the body.
- Its antioxidant properties helps in avoiding symptoms of early aging
- A powerful aphrodisiac thereby helps in enhancing the sexual powers and long lasting endurance
- It also helps in increasing sperm count and also the quality of sperms.
- It gives good results in leucorrhoea, as it possesses the properties that suppress kapha.
- It is considered as one of the most commonly used herb in relieving hypertension with excellent results.
- It has also been found excellent supplement that helps in proving strength to heart muscles and keeps heart working normal
- It also possess the properties which helps it to behave as an diuretic therefore is very helpful in treating urinary tract infections (UTI)
- Wonderful remedy in increasing physical endurance is used extensively in physically weak people or people who are recovering from long illness as in case tuberculosis or surgeries.
- Good results have also been seen in upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) and in asthmatic condition with wonderful results.
About the author
April McCarthy is a community journalist playing an active role reporting and analyzing world events to advance our health and eco-friendly initiatives.