Ashwagandha is the ultimate jack-of-all-trades when it comes to health. It’s another adaptogen found in South and Central Asia that’s been used for centuries as the keystone of Ayurvedic medicine. Also called Indian ginseng (not to be confused with Chinese ginseng!), winter cherry, and Ajagandha, it’s so effective for so many things that traditional practitioners called a preparation of Ashwagandha ‘rasayana,’ or an elixir that works in a global fashion to increase health and longevity.
Taking Ashwagandha definitely isn’t the mystical Fountain of Youth, but it certainly can help with a variety of physical and cognitive challenges and improve your overall well-being.
As an adaptogen, Ashwagandha is must-have for helping your body cope with daily stress and inflammation. Adaptogens cause adaptive relation to stress, inflammation and disease and appear to create increased resistance to adverse effects of harmful physical, chemical and biological substances. In general, scientists still aren’t such exactly how they act in the body, but studies have shown that Ashwagandha impacts stress and inflammation levels through several measurements of stress and inflammation in studies: size of the adrenal glands, blood urea nitrogen levels, lactic acid, and adrenal hypertrophy, are all stress markers that have been lowered with Ashwagandha.
Regardless of the exact mechanisms that it uses, Ashwagandha has an antioxidant effect and has been shown to boost the response of immune cells to foreign bodies in the bloodstream. This antioxidant effect occurs in part because Ashwagandha induces the release of enzymes like superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase that get rid of toxic free radicals in the system. Since free radical damage has been linked to diseases like epilepsy, Schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, it’s possible that Ashwagandha could be used to help treat or prevent those diseases. In addition to diseases, multiple studies have shown Ashwagandha can treat tumors, especially when in combination with traditional radiation therapy. In addition, studies have shown that tumors treated with Ashwagandha have higher cure rates than those that are not, meaning that Ashwagandha-treated tumors are less likely to grow back.
Many diseases are fueled by inflammation, which means that reducing inflammation is key for disease prevention and management. Ashwagandha can play a role in that as well. This jack-of-all-trades has been shown to reduce inflammation levels in patients treated with it when compared to a placebo or other anti-inflammatories. One particular study found that treating rates with Ashwagandha led to considerable reduction in paw swelling, a form of inflammation. This means that Ashwagandha has particular potential as a treatment for osteoarthritis and similar conditions.
Ashwagandha is a potent herb with a variety of medicinal properties; it’s a solid addition to anyone looking to improve their stress tolerance or simply lead a healthier lifestyle. It’s often paired with other adaptogens like ginseng for maximum effect, so be sure to check out potential supplement pairings!
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