Ashwagandha is one of the most well-known ayurvedic herbs and is traditionally known for its stress-relieving properties. From physical stress and fatigue to mental stress and conditions like anxiety, this adaptogenic herb helps deal with all kinds of health issues.
Experts suggest that ashwagandha also rejuvenates your body and improves your overall health. Here are some of the science-backed health benefits of ashwagandha along with a way to use it.
1. Good for the brain and mental health
Research suggests that ashwagandha intake reduces both anxiety and stress-related depression. The effects of this herb are equated to that of Chinese ginseng, a plant known as a cure-all in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Ashwagandha is also suggested to be helpful in improving sleep and slowing down the progression of neurological disorders like ADHD and Parkinson’s.
2. Improves heart health
Ashwagandha has several benefits for your heart. Experts say that ashwagandha strengthens heart muscles and reduces the effects of stress on your cardiovascular system. It also reduces cholesterol and the risk of blood clots in arteries. Both of these problems are major risk factors for conditions like heart attack and stroke.
A study done in India found that ashwagandha consumption increases cardiorespiratory endurance – meaning the ability of your heart and lungs to provide oxygen to your muscles. More oxygen will help you be active for longer periods of time.
3. Slows down skin ageing
Ashwagandha is a natural antioxidant. This means it can fight free radical damage and slow down the ageing process. Free radicals are unstable atoms (usually oxygen or hydroxyl) that can damage your body tissues and lead to chronic inflammation, diseases and premature ageing. Normally, our body neutralises free radicals with its own repertoire of antioxidants. However, stress and an unhealthy lifestyle can skew the balance between antioxidants and free radicals in the body.
Regular consumption of ashwagandha is suggested to be helpful in reducing fine lines, wrinkles and dark spots.
4. Boosts sexual health
Ashwagandha is traditionally used to treat erectile dysfunction and stress-induced performance anxiety in men. Research studies indicate that ashwagandha improves total sperm count and testosterone levels in men. It is also reported to improve sex drive and sexual performance in both men and women.
5. Helps control blood sugar levels
Studies indicate that ashwagandha helps control blood sugar levels in both diabetic and healthy people by increasing insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity. Insulin is a hormone that promotes body cells to take up glucose from blood. Insulin sensitivity is the term used to describe the sensitivity of body cells to insulin – how quickly the cells will start picking up sugars from your circulation in response to insulin.
How to use ashwagandha
Ashwagandha root powder is most commonly used by mixing it in hot water, milk or honey. However, according to Ayurveda, ashwagandha has a warming effect on the body itself. Also, this herb may interfere with the action of some medicines and may not be suitable for everyone. It is best to talk to an experienced Ayurveda practitioner before taking ashwagandha in any form.
For more information, read our article on Ashwagandha.
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