Ashwagandha is known to be the most magical traditional herb. It has been used to help improve energy levels, boost health and longevity. Also called Withania somnifera, Indian ginseng or winter cherry, it is generally utilized in Ayurvedic (traditional Indian) medicine.
Research now suggests this unique herb might also help to reduce chronic disease.
In Sanskrit, Ashwagandha means “the smell of a horse” and is said to provide the energy and stamina of a horse upon consumption.
Ashwagandha can be called an adaptogen. This means, it could adjust to your needs by balancing out levels such as hormones and immune cells. It’s used to help your body cope with daily stress and reduce the results of physical, chemical and biological agents.
One of Ashwagandha’s best known benefits is to cut back levels of cortisol, the stress hormone associated with the physiological effects of stress. While we need some cortisol to keep alive, chronic stress can lead to persistent or extreme elevations in cortisol, with negative effects on blood glucose regulation, blood lipids, body composition, hormone balance, digestion, sleep, immune function, and cognitive health.
In a 2005–06 multi-phase, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, those who took ashwagandha had a 30.5% reduction in serum cortisol compared to those that took placebo. They also had a 32.5% escalation in levels of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), the hormone that counterbalances the activity of cortisol.
A systematic review of five studies examining the consequences of Ashwagandha on anxiety and stress supports these findings.
Each of the studies showed that those who took Ashwagandha extract scored better on tests measuring stress, anxiety and fatigue.
Along with improving mental fatigue and stress, research also suggests ashwagandha can reduce fatigue connected with exercise.
For focus, concentration, and memory, Ashwagandha has been shown in several studies to improve all facets of cognitive function. Sensorimotor function, auditory reaction time, and mental arithmetic ability were improved with Ashwagandha in comparison to placebo.
Ashwagandha supplements can be a useful addition to any exercise regime. It may improve speed, muscle strength and hand-eye coordination.
A study of forty healthy individuals viewed the effect on power, strength, and blood pressure. It unearthed that within the eight weeks, Ashwagandha lowered blood pressure and improved strength and power.
Another study viewed the effects on endurance in elite cycling athletes. The study prescribed 500mg twice per day for eight weeks. It unearthed that using the supplement provided significant improvements in strength and time until exhaustion on the treadmill.6
Some early stage research indicates that supplementation may also help to boost muscle mass.
It is believed that this can be caused by three of ashwagandha’s bichemical effects-
Some studies show that Ashwagandha influences male fertility positively.
In one controlled study, 75 infertile men took a 5g supplement each day. Following a three month period, sperm count and motility were significantly increased.
Stress has already been reported as one factor associated with male infertility. Another study revealed that treatment with Ashwagandha resulted in decline in stress, improved sperm quality and pregnancy of 14% of the partners of the patients studied.
Ashwagandha has indeed been shown in a few studies to boost testosterone. The same double-blind study that noted increases in muscle size and strength in men taking ashwagandha while on a weight-lifting program also noted that the supplement seemed to boost testosterone. Actually, the testosterone levels of the men who took the root extract were over five times more than people who didn’t.
But it’s not only about the Testosterone levels in healthy men. Ashwagandha may also be able to greatly help men experiencing infertility. The root doesn’t just boost levels of this reproductive hormone. It may also make significant improvements to semen quality by increasing sperm count and motility in infertile men.
Ashwagandha will help support a calm mood and relieve irritability. It has a relaxing anxiolytic effect. Traditionally it is utilized in Ayurvedic medicine as a nervous system relaxant.
Some studies even declare that its effect can be compared to anti-anxiety drugs because of reducing anxiety marker known as tribulin.
Ashwagandha is also bestowed with sleep-inducing potential, causing relaxation in the brain and the body. It is a restorative herb to enhance brain function and provide relief through times of stress and anxiety.
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