Ashwagandha – Benefits, Uses, Side Effects, and More
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1. May be helpful in lowering levels of tension and anxiety
Perhaps the most well-known benefit of ashwagandha is its capacity to alleviate stress. It is a type of drug known as an adaptogen, which assists the body in dealing with the adverse effects of stress.
It would suggest that ashwagandha can assist in the regulation of stress-related mediators such as cortisol, heat shock proteins (Hsp70), and stress-activated c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase (JNK-1).
In addition to this, it lessens the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is a system in your body that controls how your body reacts to stress.
Supplements containing ashwagandha have been found in a number of trials to have the potential to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
In a study with 58 participants, those who took ashwagandha extract at doses of either 250 or 600 milligrammes over a period of eight weeks reported considerably lower levels of perceived stress as well as levels of the hormone cortisol. This was in comparison to those who took a placebo.
In addition to this, the participants who took the ashwagandha pills saw significant improvements in the quality of their sleep when compared to the group that was given a placebo.
Another trial involving sixty persons indicated that those who took 240 milligrammes of ashwagandha extract per day for a period of sixty days experienced significant reductions in anxiety when compared to those who were given sham therapy.
Therefore, a preliminary study indicates that ashwagandha may be an effective supplement for treating stress and anxiety.
In spite of this, a recent analysis of previous research came to the conclusion that there is not enough data to develop a consensus on the optimal dosage and type of ashwagandha for the treatment of stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders such as anxiety.
It has been suggested that ashwagandha can be helpful in alleviating the negative effects of stress and anxiety. However, in order to get a consensus on the most effective modes of treatment and dosages for stress and conditions that are related to stress, further study is required.
2. Could be beneficial to overall athletic performance
Ashwagandha has been proven to have potentially favourable benefits on athletic performance, suggesting that it may be a desirable supplement for athletes to take.
In one review of research, the participants were men and women who took ashwagandha in doses ranging from 120 mg to 1,250 mg per day. The trials were conducted in 12 different countries. The findings indicate that the herb may improve various aspects of physical performance, such as strength and oxygen consumption during exercise.
Ashwagandha supplementation resulted in a significant increase in healthy people and athletes’ maximum oxygen consumption (VO2 max), according to a meta-analysis of five separate investigations.
A person’s VO2 max is the greatest amount of oxygen that they are able to use when engaging in strenuous activity. It is a measurement of the fitness of the heart and lungs.
It is crucial for athletes and non-athletes alike to have a VO2 max that is at its ideal level. A VO2 max that is too low is related to an increased risk of death, whereas a VO2 max that is too high is connected with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
In addition to this, there is some evidence that ashwagandha can assist boost muscular strength.
In one study, male volunteers who took 600 milligrammes of ashwagandha per day and participated in resistance training for eight weeks showed considerably larger gains in muscle strength and size when compared with a group that was given a placebo.
In healthy persons and athletes alike, the use of ashwagandha has been shown to improve several aspects of physical performance, including maximum oxygen consumption (VO2 max) and strength.
3. May alleviate symptoms associated with a variety of mental health issues
In certain populations, there is evidence to suggest that ashwagandha may help lessen symptoms of other mental health problems, including depression.
In one study, researchers investigated the effects of ashwagandha on 66 individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia who also suffered from symptoms of despair and anxiety.
They discovered that those participants who took 1,000 mg of ashwagandha extract on a daily basis for a period of 12 weeks showed higher decreases in depression and anxiety than those participants who received a placebo.
In addition to this, the results of another study suggest that consuming ashwagandha may assist persons with schizophrenia in reducing their overall symptoms as well as their level of perceived stress.
Ashwagandha may also assist alleviate cognitive impairment in persons who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, according to preliminary studies from 2013. Having said that, additional study is required.
In addition, a study that was conducted in 2012 indicated that stressed people who took 600 mg of ashwagandha extract per day for 60 days reported a 77% reduction in symptoms of depression, whereas the placebo group reported a 5% reduction in symptoms of depression.
However, considering that only one of the people who participated in this study had a history of depression, it is difficult to determine how relevant the results are.
Although some research suggests that ashwagandha may have some antidepressant effects in select people, you should not attempt to take it as a replacement for medication to treat depression if you are currently being treated for it.
Talking to a healthcare expert will put you on the path to receiving any assistance or treatment you might require if you are experiencing symptoms of depression.
Ashwagandha may help lessen symptoms of depression and provide benefits to those with certain mental health issues, according to the scant study that has been conducted on the topic. Nevertheless, additional investigation is required.
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4. May help males enhance their testosterone levels and their fertility.
It has been demonstrated in a number of studies that using ashwagandha supplements can improve male fertility as well as raise testosterone levels.
In one study, 43 overweight men with mild fatigue were given either pill containing ashwagandha extract or a placebo every day for eight weeks. These men ranged in age from 40 to 70.
The therapy with ashwagandha was related to an elevation in DHEA-S that was 18 percent higher than average. DHEA-S is a sex hormone that is involved in the creation of testosterone. Participants who took the herbal supplement experienced a rise in testosterone levels that were 14.7% higher than those who received the placebo.
A meta-analysis of four separate trials indicated that therapy with ashwagandha significantly enhanced sperm concentration, semen volume, and sperm motility in men with low sperm count.
Additionally, it enhanced both the concentration and motility of sperm in males whose sperm counts were normal.
The researchers came to the conclusion, however, that there is not enough evidence available at this time to substantiate the possible benefits of ashwagandha for male fertility and that additional studies of higher quality are required.
There is some evidence that ashwagandha can help boost testosterone levels, and there is also some evidence that it may have some potential benefits for male fertility. Nevertheless, additional investigation is required.
5. May result in lower levels of blood sugar
There is some evidence to suggest that persons with diabetes or high blood sugar levels may benefit from using ashwagandha. However, this evidence is limited.
Treatment with ashwagandha was found to dramatically lower blood sugar, haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), insulin, blood lipids, and oxidative stress indicators, according to a review of 24 investigations that included 5 clinical studies in diabetic patients.
It is thought that certain chemicals found inside ashwagandha, especially one known as withaferin A (WA), have potent anti-diabetic activity and may help stimulate your cells to take in glucose from your bloodstream.
However, there is a lack of study on this topic at the moment, and there need to be additional studies that be adequately conducted.
Ashwagandha may lower blood sugar levels through its effects on insulin release and the ability of cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream. However, there is just little amount of evidence to support this claim.
6. May have an anti-inflammatory effect
There is some evidence that the anti-inflammatory properties of ashwagandha, notably WA, can help reduce inflammation throughout the body.
It has been discovered by researchers that WA targets inflammatory pathways within the body. These pathways include signal molecules known as nuclear factor kappa B (NF-B) and nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2. (Nrf2).
Research conducted on animals suggests that WA may also be helpful in lowering levels of inflammatory proteins including interleukin-10 (IL-10).
There is some evidence to suggest that ashwagandha may also assist in lowering inflammatory indicators in human beings.
In one study that was conducted in 2008, persons who were feeling stress took an extract of ashwagandha for a period of sixty days. In comparison to the group that took a placebo, these individuals experienced statistically significant reductions in C-reactive protein, which is a measure of inflammation.
In another study, the researchers gave participants with COVID-19 an Ayurvedic medicine including 0.5 grammes of ashwagandha and several other herbs twice each day for a period of seven days. In comparison to a placebo, this resulted in a reduction in the participants’ levels of inflammatory markers such as CRP, IL-6, and TNF-
Additionally, the therapy recipe included the following:
1 gramme of giloy ghanvati (giloy ghanvati) (Tinospora cordifolia)
2 grammes of swasari ras in total weight (a traditional herbs-mineral formulation)
an amount equal to 0.5 grammes of tulsi ghanvati (Ocimum sanctum)
Even though these findings are encouraging, there has only been a relatively small amount of research done so far on ashwagandha’s possible benefits on inflammation.
It is possible that ashwagandha will assist in lowering inflammatory indicators in the body. Nevertheless, additional investigation is required.
7. May increase cognitive abilities, particularly memory.
There is some evidence that consuming ashwagandha improves cognitive performance.
Early evidence suggested that ashwagandha could improve cognitive functioning in specific populations, such as older persons with mild cognitive impairment and people with schizophrenia, according to a study that comprised five clinical investigations.
The following are some examples of cognitive functions that it may benefit:
performance on cognitive tests based on executive functioning, attention, and reaction time
When compared with consuming a placebo, ingesting 600 mg of ashwagandha extract per day for eight weeks led to substantial improvements in the following metrics in research including 50 persons:
processing ability in terms of immediate and broad memory, attention, and information
Researchers have noted that certain components of ashwagandha, such as WA, have been shown to have antioxidant effects on the brain, which may be beneficial to cognitive health.
Nevertheless, there is a need for additional investigation before specialists can arrive at definitive conclusions.
It is possible that taking ashwagandha supplements would increase one’s memory, response time, and overall capacity to complete activities in certain populations. Nevertheless, additional investigation is required.
8. May contribute to a better night’s sleep
Ashwagandha is commonly used to encourage restful sleep, and there is some evidence to suggest that it may help with disorders related to sleep.
For instance, one study involving fifty adults between the ages of 65 and 80 found that taking 600 milligrammes of ashwagandha root per day for a period of twelve weeks resulted in a significant improvement in both the quality of sleep and the level of mental alertness experienced upon awakening when compared with placebo treatment.
In addition, a meta-analysis of five well-conducted trials concluded that ashwagandha had a marginally beneficial but statistically significant impact on the overall quality of sleep.
People who took ashwagandha found that it helped lower their feelings of anxiety and made them feel more alert when they woke up.
The researchers found that the effects were most obvious in individuals who suffered from sleeplessness and in those who had taken more than 600 milligrammes per day for eight weeks or longer.
New data suggests that ashwagandha may be useful natural medicine for enhancing sleep quality and may be of particular assistance to patients who suffer from insomnia.
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9. Considered to be quite secure and readily available
Although the consequences of taking ashwagandha over a prolonged period of time are unknown, the supplement is generally considered to be safe.
A meta-analysis of 69 research indicated that the use of ashwagandha root for the management of various health issues, such as stress, anxiety, and sleeplessness, appeared to be both safe and helpful.
One study including 80 healthy men and women found that a daily dose of 600 milligrammes of ashwagandha for eight weeks did not result in any unfavourable changes to the participants’ health and was completely safe.
Nevertheless, there are some people who should not take it. For instance, pregnant women should steer clear of it because excessive dosages of it have been shown to increase the risk of miscarriage.
Avoid using ashwagandha if you have hormone-sensitive prostate cancer or if you are taking certain drugs, such as benzodiazepines, anticonvulsants, or barbiturates.
People who take ashwagandha supplements may have a variety of unpleasant side effects, including discomfort in the upper gastrointestinal tract, sleepiness, and diarrhoea.
In addition, ashwagandha may have an effect on the thyroid; therefore, individuals who have thyroid problems should consult a healthcare practitioner prior to consuming it.
There is a wide range of recommended dosages for ashwagandha. For instance, it has been demonstrated that diverse conditions respond favourably to dosages ranging from 250 mg to 1,250 mg taken daily. If you have issues with the appropriate dosage of ashwagandha, you should speak with a qualified healthcare expert.
It has been found through research that the effects of ashwagandha are not instantaneous; therefore, it is important to bear in mind that you might need to take it for a few months before you start feeling its effects.
Ashwagandha can be used in a variety of forms, and a single dose or numerous doses are taken throughout the day are both acceptable. In addition, it can be consumed either in conjunction with meals or on an empty stomach.
It is produced by a number of different supplement producers, and it is sold by a number of different retailers, including health food stores and vitamin shops.
Although ashwagandha is perfectly safe for the vast majority of individuals, there are some folks for whom it should not be consumed. Before beginning to take ashwagandha, it is essential to consult with a qualified medical practitioner.
- When administered orally, ashwagandha is thought to be safe for use for a period of up to three months. It is unknown whether or not ashwagandha is safe to consume on a long-term basis. It’s possible that taking large dosages of ashwagandha could upset your stomach, give you diarrhoea, and make you throw up. On occasion, one could experience liver difficulties.
- There is not enough trustworthy information available to determine whether or not ashwagandha is safe to use topically or what the potential adverse effects may be.
In a nutshell, ashwagandha is a traditional Indian medicine that has been shown to have a variety of positive effects on one’s health.
According to the conclusions of a study, it may be beneficial for lowering levels of anxiety and tension, promoting restful sleep, and even improving cognitive functioning in certain groups.
Most people can consume ashwagandha without any significant adverse effects. Before incorporating ashwagandha into your daily routine, it is essential to have a conversation with a qualified medical practitioner because the herb is not suitable for everyone.