Tossing and turning at night or having severe anxiety but not wanting to take prescription drugs to address it is a common problem that people deal with. The chances of becoming addicted to those drugs are much higher than using herbal medicine.
Ashwagandha is the name of a plant used heavily herbal medicinal practices in India for promoting energy and peace of mind. It's a wise idea to ask your doctor about Ashwagandha and give it a shot before you take the prescription drug treatment route.
Familiarize yourself with Ashwagandha before seeking your doctor's advice by reading the benefits of taking this plant we have outlined below.
What Is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is a plant that is predominantly found in traditional Ayurvedic medicinal practices in India and is used to enhance mental and physical health. It can treat a wide range of conditions, so it's a supplement you can truly benefit from when you incorporate it into your daily life.
The Ashwagandha root and berry are the parts used to make the medicine, so extraction occurs here. Understanding the difference between extracting from the root and the berry will help you paint a clearer picture regarding Ashwagandha.
Root Extract Vs Leaf Extract
Since Ashwagandha is a plant, you can extract it either from its roots or leaves. Distinguishing where the plant is extracted from will inform you as to the concentration of the compound present.
When it comes to Ashwagandha, the difference between a leaf extract and a root extract is immense. For instance, leaf extracts are known to come with high amounts of Withaferin A.
On the other hand; the roof extracts contain low levels of Withaferin A, which is why a majority of the best supplements use the root extract form.
Withaferin A is a primary component of Ashwagandha. It is cytotoxic, which means that it can kill cells in your body, predominately cancer cells. The purpose of taking this herbal extract is to rejuvenate your immune and endocrine system, which is something not many prescribed medications can do.
Taking Ashwagandha with high levels of Withaferin A can put your body at risk, so stick to roof extract versions. If you intend on using the Ashwagandha for anti-stress and boosting energy level purposes, it won’t be wise to take an extract with Withaferin A in it.
In regards to the other ingredients present in Ashwagandha, you should understand that the plant has numerous substances in it that allow it to perform all the good it is meant to in your body.
List Of Other Substances Found In Root
The two most important bioactive components of Ashwagandha are its alkaloids and withanolides.
Withanolides are responsible for the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-tumor properties associated to Ashwagandha. The component mentioned above, Withaferin-A, is classified as a withanolide.
Don’t assume that a higher concentration of withanolides makes the Ashwagandha more effective. Many researchers believe that it is the synergy between all these components found in the root that makes the herbal treatment so effective.
You can find Ashwagandha with extract strengths varying from one to ten percent, but a common dosage tends to consists of 300 to 500 milligrams with two to five percent of withanolides present.
Other Names For Ashwagandha
In the Sanskrit language, ashva translates to horse and gandha means smell, which is an accurate depiction of the Ashwagandha root strong aroma that is often described as giving off a “horse” type of smell.
Ashwagandha is referred to as Indian Ginseng in Ayurvedic, Unani, and Indian medicine. In some countries, people consider a winter cherry to be the equivalent name of the Ashwagandha plant. Some people confuse the winter cherry name to refer to another plant, but don’t be fooled!
How Is It Cultivated?
You will find Ashwagandha cultivated in regions of India whose weather consists of low rainfall after the pre-monsoon but right at the start of rainy season in conditions that are both humid and hot. The temperature will measure around 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ashwagandha can thrive in drought-like conditions, so it can readily grow in dry soil. Areas that provide full or even partial shade will diminish the chance of this plant being able to cultivate there. So, this plant needs plenty of sunlight and no shade to grow to its full potential.
Shallow and rocky soil are some of the prime conditions for an Ashwagandha plant to cultivate and thrive. The key is to have moist soil that is well-drained, so a constant supply of water after seeding is crucial.
Some Ashwagandha farmers use the organic fertilizer to ensure that the plant has access to all the nutrients it needs.
Temperate climate zones normally see Ashwagandha grown once a year, since it cannot adjust to tolerate the first. In these areas, the seed will germinate during the spring, and the Ashwagandha will flower when the growing season comes around.
Those trying to grow Withania somnifera on their own will find out about the pests and diseases the hard way. Diseases that are common with Ashwagandha is root and stem rot, which can occur when you overwater it.
Spider mites love to attack Ashwagandha, but there are steps you can take to rid yourself of them naturally.
Once you work your way around the pests and diseases that come hand in hand with cultivating Ashwagandha, you can then begin to harvest successfully. Keep in mind that even in its raw form, this plant isn't as beneficial as it would be in either powdered or tablet form.
4 Benefits Of Ashwagandha
Reducing Blood Sugar Levels
Whether you're dealing with Type I or Type II diabetes, using Ashwagandha will prove to be as effective as consuming the standard prescription medication. This is because one of the many ashwagandha benefits includes increasing insulin sensitivity, keeping up insulin production, as well as improving your metabolism.
Studies have shown that Ashwagandha can reduce blood glucose levels about 12 percent, which is similar to the results of diabetes patients taking hypoglycemic drugs. You don’t have to have diabetes to take advantage of this ashwagandha health benefit because it can lower blood sugar levels in healthy individuals too.
As people are seeking new cancer treatments, more studies began popping up having to do with the Ashwagandha health benefits regarding its anti-cancer properties.
Several studies found that this herb can kill certain cancer cells while enhancing some immune cells. Scientists speculate that the herb damages a mechanism in the cancer cell so it can no longer generate energy to reproduce.
Tumor cells contain high levels of an antioxidant, which reduces in amount when exposed to Ashwagandha. This reduction has the ability to optimize the effects that radiation therapy has on killing those tumor cells.
Ashwagandha seems to have a mind of its own since it can selectively kill cancerous cells. A study performed in 2008 shows that an Ashwagandha leaf extract killed a large range of cancer cells such as breast, lung, skin, pancreas, colon, and bone.
This herb can distinguish which cells to kill because of its Withanone component, which is otherwise known as its tumor-inhibitory factor.
Withanone falls under a category that collectively refers to steroidal lactones as withanolides. The withanolide, Withaferin-A, is very active when it comes fighting cancer since it is cytotoxic.
The benefit to consuming Ashwagandha when you're diagnosed with cancer is that it can minimize the side effects of chemotherapeutic drugs. It won't interfere with the effectiveness of the drug when it comes to reducing a tumor so that it will reduce the side effects of cancer drugs.
Reducing Cortisol Levels
Your body releases cortisol, a stress hormone, to take amino acids from muscles and break it down into glucose so your cells can use it as an energy source. This hormone also helps to maintain your blood sugar.
When you endure a stressful situation, your adrenal glands release cortisol as a response. When your blood sugar level goes below a certain point, your body immediately releases cortisol.
However, cortisol isn't meant to be continuously and constantly released.
When cortisol remains active for long-term purposes, it will cause other stress hormones in your body to react accordingly. This means your body will go into survival mode, so you can forget about making proficient use of higher body functions.
The release of cortisol should mean that your body is balancing itself out. When cortisol is released without it being necessary, the Ashwagandha health benefits will begin to shine.
Since you live in a world that is defined by stress, you need to start working on reducing your cortisol levels. Studies show that Ashwagandha comes in handy for this exact purpose.
Adults who have been diagnosed as being chronically stressed supplemented Ashwagandha in their daily life.
When compared to the control group, the Ashwagandha group showed a significant decrease in cortisol levels. On average, those taking the supplement found that their cortisol levels reduced by 30 percent.
Chronically stressed individuals no longer have to feel bad about being stressed out because Ashwagandha will address the problem.
Reducing Stress And Anxiety
You have the Ashwagandha root to thank for when you’re using Ashwagandha for improving brain function, reducing pain, and reducing stress and anxiety.
Scientists classify this plant as being an adaptogen, which means that it improves your body’s ability to adapt and respond to stress and it balances out normal body functions.
Some animal studies prove that the Ashwagandha herb helps towards reducing inflammation on top of calming the nervous system.
Another clinical trial consisted of individuals dealing with severe anxiety. Researchers gave these people a mixture of 300 milligrams of Ashwagandha that’s standardized to 1.5 percent withanolides, which was extracted only from the root.
Once eight weeks passed by, the group that had consumed the Ashwagandha mixture had reported reduced levels of anxiety and fatigue and increased mental focus while the group who had psychotherapy did not feel any massive difference in mood.
Ultimately, the Ashwagandha root benefits go a long way in treating a physical and mental condition, so make sure that you consume Ashwagandha extracted from the root.
Having some background information regarding Ashwagandha will make life a lot easier for you when its time to go shopping for the supplement. You could take it in capsule form, but some people prefer to use the powdered form and incorporate it into some of their meals.
You can make a decent smoothie with Ashwagandha while taking the capsules is less of a hassle, so the choice is yours!