Diabetes, Food and Nutrition, Health, Herbs and Spices

The Benefits of Ashwagandha

Medicinal herbs and their derivatives have contributed significantly to the treatment of various health-related complications since prehistoric times. These medicinal practices are popular in the world of holistic health and human wellness. Extracted from these plants are phytochemicals, compounds that exhibit a remarkable pharmacological history of reducing harmful effects associated with many diseases.1

Ashwagandha also called “Withania somnifera,” is a traditional medicinal herb with innumerable health benefits. This is a small plant made up of leaves and yellow flowers. The prominent chemical constituents of this herb are known as “withanolides.” This herb is principally used for various purposes such as reducing stress, boosting energy levels and body strength, stimulating fertility, and increasing brain function.2

Several health benefits associated with ashwagandha from previous research studies are listed below:

Anti-diabetic potential

High blood sugar levels can significantly disrupt the normal functioning of body organs. Previous studies have predominantly reported the potential of ashwagandha to eventually reduce blood glucose levels in both healthy and diabetic patients.3

Anticancer Properties

The supplementary compound named “Withaferin A” extracted from ashwagandha holds immense potential in treating different kinds of cancer. The compound initiates the apoptosis (programmed cell death) of cancerous cells. It gradually disrupts the normal formation and growth of cancer cells by inducing the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in these new cancer cells, which destroys their harmful activity.4

Reducing Cortisol Level

Ashwagandha contains active compounds that have the potential to considerably lower cortisol levels in the body. Cortisol is basically a stress hormone that is produced in the adrenal glands during anxiety or stress.  Elevated cortisol levels for a prolonged period can lead to detrimental effects on one’s overall health. Because of this, ashwagandha can be used to treat various mental health-related problems.5

Boosting Fertility in Men

Stress is the major contributing factor for male infertility. The compounds extracted from ashwagandha can enhance the testosterone levels of men, subsequently improving their reproductive health6.

Lowering Inflammation

Many previous studies have reported the medicinal potential of the ashwagandha to reduce inflammation and its associated complications. The numerous phytochemicals can enhance the production of NK cells (immune cells) to actively combat swelling and keep the body healthy.7

Reducing Cholesterol Level

Elevated LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol level that is also known as bad cholesterol can lead to various diseases. A high level of triglycerides produced after excessive consumption of high caloric food can consequently raise high chances of various coronary artery diseases. Although its long-term effects are still unknown, ashwagandha can contribute greatly to reducing the risk of heart diseases by decreasing the level of extra fats in body.8

Boosting energy and muscle strength

The active compounds extracted from this Ayurvedic herb can substantially enhance the stamina and muscle strength, thus can be really helpful to perform your daily activities more effectively. The consumption of ashwagandha can also enhance muscle mass production and can be utilized in resistance trainings.9

Improving brain functionality

Ashwagandha holds immense antioxidant potential, it can protect the body and nerve cells from the deleterious effect of free radicals. The medicinal features of ashwagandha can be efficiently helpful in boosting the brain function and improving the memory.10

Conclusion

Ashwagandha is a naturally occurring ancient herb with diverse health benefits. Although the importance of its natural compounds cannot be denied, this product may cause allergic reactions in some people. Be cautious and ask your doctor before usage.

References

1.         Jamshidi-Kia, F.;  Lorigooini, Z.; Amini-Khoei, H. J. J. o. h. p., Medicinal plants: Past history and future perspective. 2018, 7 (1).

2.         Mirjalili, M. H.;  Moyano, E.;  Bonfill, M.;  Cusido, R. M.; Palazón, J. J. M., Steroidal lactones from Withania somnifera, an ancient plant for novel medicine. 2009, 14 (7), 2373-2393.

3.         Kumar, V.;  Dey, A.; Chatterjee, S. S., Phytopharmacology of Ashwagandha as an anti-diabetic herb. In Science of Ashwagandha: Preventive and Therapeutic Potentials, Springer: 2017; pp 37-68.

4.         Vyas, A. R.; Singh, S. V. J. T. A. j., Molecular targets and mechanisms of cancer prevention and treatment by withaferin a, a naturally occurring steroidal lactone. 2014, 16 (1), 1-10.

5.         Chandrasekhar, K.;  Kapoor, J.; Anishetty, S. J. I. j. o. p. m., A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. 2012, 34 (3), 255-262.

6.         Mahdi, A. A.;  Shukla, K. K.;  Ahmad, M. K.;  Rajender, S.;  Shankhwar, S. N.;  Singh, V.;  Dalela, D. J. E.-B. C.; Medicine, A., Withania somnifera improves semen quality in stress-related male fertility. 2011, 2011.

7.         Bhat, J.;  Damle, A.;  Vaishnav, P. P.;  Albers, R.;  Joshi, M.;  Banerjee, G. J. P. R. A. I. J. D. t. P.; Derivatives, T. E. o. N. P., In vivo enhancement of natural killer cell activity through tea fortified with Ayurvedic herbs. 2010, 24 (1), 129-135.

8.         Visavadiya, N. P.; Narasimhacharya, A. J. P., Hypocholesteremic and antioxidant effects of Withania somnifera (Dunal) in hypercholesteremic rats. 2007, 14 (2-3), 136-142.

9.         Wankhede, S.;  Langade, D.;  Joshi, K.;  Sinha, S. R.; Bhattacharyya, S. J. J. o. t. I. S. o. S. N., Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial. 2015, 12 (1), 1-11.

10.       Kurapati, K. R. V.;  Atluri, V. S. R.;  Samikkannu, T.; Nair, M. P. J. P. O., Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) reverses β-amyloid1-42 induced toxicity in human neuronal cells: implications in HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND). 2013, 8 (10), e77624.