5 Ashwagandha Benefits You Didn’t Know About

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5 Ashwagandha Benefits You Didn’t Know About

Ashwagandha Benefits

If you’ve clicked over this way, you’ve probably heard of Ashwagandha already.  This odd word comes from Sanskrit. It means “the smell of the horse.” Whether the term came exclusively from the scent of ground ashwagandha root, or from the strength of a horse provided upon consumption, we do not know.  We do, however, know some surprising things about this medicinal herb. Here are 5 of the most surprising benefits of ashwagandha.

What is Ashwagandha?

In Ayurvedic medicine (the traditional medicine of India), ashwagandha gets used extensively. As a matter of fact, lots of what we know, and are currently discovering, about effective wellness treatment comes from India. Yoga practice, meditation, and all kinds of herbal remedies and treatments come from ancient Indian texts. So the fact that the plant ashwagandha played such prominence, made modern researchers want to understand--fact or hype? It turns out that this ancient herb might help cure a wide variety of modern ailments.

It Can Super-Charge Your Adrenals

Ashwagandha is a known adaptogen. Adaptogens help your body adapt to stress. Some studies suggest that the herb assists the normal function of the adrenal glands.  Signs of adrenal stress include:
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Sleep problems
  • Weight gain, especially midsection weight
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Body aches
  • Skin discoloration
  • Hair loss
  • Sick easily
  • Allergies
  • Anxiety 
  • Irritability
  • Menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats
Adaptogens, like ashwagandha, may help normalize the adrenal glands and thus reduce or eliminate these symptoms. But beyond just getting rid of unwanted body problems, ashwagandha has been shown to improve energy and stamina. In a study of laboratory mice, ashwagandha improved endurance and recovery during stamina/stress swimming tests. These outcomes may be because ashwagandha improves cortisol function as well as assisting mitochondria (the powerhouse of cells). In human studies, reductions in levels of stress, anxiety and insomnia were all experienced by more than two-thirds of participants, compared with only about 10% of the placebo group. Considering that medications commonly used to treat anxiety and depression have no better effect than placebo, an herb performing so significantly better is a very big deal!

It Can Power Your Brain 

Your adrenal glands play a part in your energy, concentration, recovery, etc, but so does your brain. While the exact mechanisms are unknown, ashwagandha has been linked to improvement in a wide variety of nervous system and brain functions, including:
  • Improved memory
  • Better concentration
  • More energy and mental stamina for tasks
  • Improved outcomes and/or decreased incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, schizophrenia and Huntington’s disease
Ashwagandha benefits so effectively these devastating diseases, that anyone with a family history of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, schizophrenia and/or Huntington’s disease should regularly supplement with it.

It Might Fix Inflammatory Conditions

Inflammation can come from a variety of problems in the body--the adrenal component we covered above. But in addition to those surprising benefits, ashwagandha has also been used effectively to help treat arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. The herb can also boost testosterone, which helps to power muscles (improving muscle mass and tone), recovery, the body’s anti-inflammatory responses, and (in men) fertility.

It’s Treated Diabetics

For anyone hypoglycemic, pre-diabetic, or diabetic (type II), ashwagandha may be beneficial. Several human studies have indicated that ashwagandha improved blood sugar levels, insulin secretion, and insulin sensitivity in both diabetics and healthy people. That means that ashwagandha may help you prevent diabetes, not just treat it. Keep in mind that chronically increased blood sugar levels cause additional stress on the body, including increased cortisol levels, and may cause weight gain.

It May Treat Cancer

Decreasing stress on the body can help prevent cancer, so can normalizing tissue function. But ashwagandha may also help treat cancer. So far the studies have been on animals, but several  cancer types--including breast, lung, colon, brain and ovarian cancer--have responded positively to treatment with ashwagandha.

That’s Just What We Know So Far

A medicinal herb that’s thousands of years old, and yet we are just discovering many of its surprising benefits? It’s true. We have made many advances in diagnostics and treatments in disease, particularly in the last fifty years of human history, but applying what we know now to what ancient humans practiced opens the door to holistic treatment of disease, advancing us to the next level as human beings. We already live longer than at any point in human history. With the right treatments and supplements we can live even better. 

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