Ashwagandha is an ancient medicinal herb that is part of the Withania or Nightshade family and is also known as Indian Ginseng. The plant is a small shrub with yellow flowers and is native to India, North Africa and the Middle East. Extracts from the plant’s root or leaves have been used for a long time in both traditional and ayurvedic (holistic) medicine and it is classified as an adaptogen that offers health benefits and helps to manage stress. Whilst it has been used for several thousand years, it has recently become more popular due to the scientific research behind it’s many health benefits particularly for women of all ages.
Many studies have taken place with regards to the benefits to taking this medical, natural supplement and whilst they may not have all been fully tried and tested, here are just a few of advantages that may just help you.
Ashwagandha is probably most well known for its stress reducing abilities. Research shows that it can block the stress pathway to the brain by regulating chemical signalling in the nervous system.
Controlled studies have produced great results, for example; when comparing a group of people who took the supplement regularly to a group who did not, over an 8 week period, those who took the supplement were found to have significantly lower stress levels.
Ashwagandha supplements may help to improve brain function, memory, reaction times and the ability to carry out tasks normally. It helps to achieve antioxidant activity which offers the nerve cells protection from free radicals. One study involved a cognitive assessment and the effects Ashwagandha had on healthy human participants. It proved that reaction times and decision making became significantly improved. This concluded that the supplement may be valuable to those with cognitive impairment and associated diseases.
Ashwagandha can help with weight loss, particularly if your weight is stress driven. By lowering Cortisol (the stress hormone) levels it can help improve weight loss. When stress is high, Cortisol levels elevate leading to high blood pressure and high fat storage in the abdomen. It has been found that the herb can help to manage stress and reduce both psychological and physiological markers of stress, reducing Cortisol levels and therefore reducing food cravings. This naturally leads to improved eating habits and in turn, weight loss.
The ancient herbal medicine is said to have a positive effect on testosterone levels and the reproductive health of men. It has been shown to increase sperm count and motility as well as increased antioxidant levels in the blood. A study showed that men who took the supplement for stress resulted in higher antioxidant levels and improved sperm quality. After taking the supplement for 3 months, 14% of the participants' partners became pregnant.
Stress can have a detrimental effect on our hair and it is a major factor for those suffering hair loss. As stated earlier, Ashwagandha can help lower stress levels and therefore reduce hair loss.
Ashwagandha shampoos and hair treatments are great for dry, itchy scalp and those who suffer from dandruff. In supplement form, it can also prevent melanin loss saving you from premature greying without the need for chemicals.
The menopause causes havoc with the balance of hormones and Ashwagandha offers a natural way to restore balance. It can target the endocrine system, which allows hormones into the blood, balancing it out and controlling the release. This can alleviate menopausal symptoms such as mood swings, night sweats, stress, insomnia and reduced libido.
Estrogen levels drop during the menopause which can lead to underactive thyroids or hypothyroidism. Ashwagandha has been proven to increase the production of the T3 and T4 hormones which increases the performance of the body’s cells.
Studies have not shown any negative side effects from Ashwagandha however, it is not very well known how it could impact other medications so it is always worth consulting your GP or health professional before taking any supplements. There are some contradictions and should not be taken if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have recently undergone surgery, have respiratory issues or take sedatives.
Ashwagandha has multiple health benefits from reducing anxiety and stress to boosting fertility and brain function. Research is ongoing to find out how it works and how people can take advantage of its positive effects. If you would like to try it, you can purchase Ashwagandha Supplements here, along with a range of many other health supplements that are available on our website.