Benefits of Ashwagandha (WS)

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda herb. It grows in India, Pakistan, Spain, Africa, parts of the Middle East, and part of Asia. Traditional medicine uses the leaves, fruits, seeds, shoots, and roots of this plant as multiple remedies.

Ashwagandha root is also called Indian ginseng, winter cherry and somnifera root. It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-fatigue, anti-stress, and adaptogenic properties.

Aswagandha Anxiety & Stress Relief

Ashwagandha is renowned for maintaining low cortisol level. This anti-stress, anti-anxiety and adaptogenic properties of the extract can lead to a relaxing and calming effect.

Five studies concluded that WS intervention resulted in greater score improvements (significantly in most cases), than placebo in outcomes on anxiety and stress scales. To is to say, anxiety decrease by 56.5% and stress by 44%. [1]

Another study supports the use of Ashwagandha acts as a mood stabilizer in clinical conditions of anxiety and depression in Ayurveda. Moreover, this study suggest that it not only reduces stress and anxiety, but also morning cortisol levels.

A 2009 study compared Ashwagandha to pharmaceutical drugs lorazepam and imipramine. The results showed similar efficacy without the side effects.

In this study, 64 people with chronic stress, took a ashwagandha supplement for 60 days. At the end, they reported an average of 69% reduction in anxiety and insomnia, compared with 11% in the placebo group.

Muscle Mass & Strength

ashwagandha powderA study reports that WS supplementation is associated with significant increase in muscle mass and strength. Moreover, it also suggests that it may be useful in conjunction with a resistance training program. [2]

Ashwagandha Anti-inflammatory Properties

Withaferin A, contained in Ashwagandha leaves and roots, exhibits fairly potent anti-arthritic and anti-inflammatory activities. To clarify, anti-inflammatory activity has been attributed to biologically active steroids, of which Withaferin A is a major component.

Most importantly, it was found to suppress effectively arthritic syndrome without any toxic effect.

Anti-ageing Properties

Double-blind clinical trial carried out to study the effect of plant on prevention of ageing in 101 normal healthy males in 50-59 years age group. Consequently, WS root powder (0.5 g) was given orally three times a day for 1 year.

As a result, the outcome showed statistically significant increase in Hb (hemoglobin), RBC (red blood cell count), hair melanin and lower cholesterol. [3]

Benefits for Brain

An extensive study using in vivo and in vitro model systems provides first ever pre-clinical evidence that Ashwagandha could be used as a promising natural therapeutic remedial for the prevention of neuro-degeneration and cognitive impairments. [4]

Treatment development for cognitive impairments in bipolar disorder is truly in its infancy; extracts of WS may hold promise as a potential treatment option.

The bioactive constituents of Ashwagandha, include withanolides, indosides, Withaferin A, and others. They possess anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, anti-oxidant, cortisol lowering, anti-stress, pro-cholinergic, anti-glutamatergic and neuro-protective properties, the very processes that are thought to underlie cognitive impairments not only in bipolar disorders but also in other psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia and major depression.

Benefits for Memory & Cognition

Cognitive decline is often associated with the aging process. As a result, WS has long been used in the traditional Ayurvedic (Indian) system of medicine to enhance memory and improve cognition.

A eight week study showed that a group treated with WS demonstrated significant improvements compared with the placebo group in both immediate and general memory.

Moreover, the study also demonstrated significantly greater improvement in executive function, sustained attention, and information-processing speed. [5]

Immune System Booster

T cells orchestrate the immune response via the production of cytokines–secreted proteins that instruct other cells to behave in specific ways.

Th1 cells tend to generate responses against intracellular parasites such as bacteria and viruses, Th2 cells produce immune responses against helminths and other extracellular parasites. [7]

Studies demonstrate the possible usefulness of Ashwagandha and its major constituent WSL-2 as Th1 immune immunological agent for chronic infectious ailments where patients suffer from weakened Th1 immunity. [8]

Benefits for Hair

It has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. Therefore, it might improve scalp and hair health.

As a matter of fact, Tyrosine, an amino acid found in its composition, stimulates the production of melanin and inhibits the loss of it. Most importantly, it might combat free radicals, protect from the sun and slow down the aging process in skin and hair.

Decrease of hair loss has been reported. The stimulation of the production of collagen and sebum may help healthy hair growth through its stimulation of DHEA. DHEA is naturally occurring hormone in the body, which slows down or reverses aging.

Its anti-inflammatory properties can combat dandruff and other issues, such as scalp eczema and psoriasis.

In Conclusion

Studies indicate WS possesses anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antistress, antioxidant, anti-depression and rejuvenating properties. It also appears to exert a positive influence on the endocrine, cardiopulmonary, and central nervous systems. [6]

Therefore, WS seems to be quite powerful on its own, or combined with other ingredients.

Warnings

Ashwagandha should never be taken by pregnant women, nursing mothers, hyperthyroidism or people with a sensitivity to plants in the nightshade family. The nightshade family includes tomatoes, peppers, white potatoes, eggplant. If you have an auto-immune disease or irritable bowel disease use caution with WS. Always consult with your physician for possible medication/supplement inter-actions.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

This information is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner.

An alternative treatment for anxiety: a systematic review of human trial results reported for the Ayurvedic herb Ashwagandha: [1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25405876

Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial: [2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26609282

Phytochemical and Pharmacological Profile of Withania somnifera Dunal: A Review [3] https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/8bbe/883409d34ddd5ff3f2940aecdb9e92917938.pdf

Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal ameliorates neurodegeneration and cognitive impairments associated with systemic inflammation: [4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31416451

Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal) Root Extract in Improving Memory and Cognitive Functions: [5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28471731

Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Withania somnifera (ashwagandha): a review: [6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10956379

[7] Distinguishing Th1 and Th2 Cells https://www.the-scientist.com/technology-profile/distinguishing-th1-and-th2-cells-54709

[8] Molecular insight into the immune up-regulatory properties of the leaf extract of Ashwagandha and identification of Th1 immunostimulatory chemical entity

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19628058