Ashwagandha, also called Himalayan ashwagandha, Withania, or Withania somnifera is a traditional Indian herb, although it is also present in other regions, and is widely used in Ayurvedic medicine.
Due to its calming and at the same time invigorating properties, it is used to treat many different types of ailments and problems.
It is considered an adaptogen due to its chemical principles, that is, it is classified in that list of plants that, due to their natural substances, benefit health in many different physical and psychological aspects.
Despite being closely associated with Ayurvedic medicine, since it is one of its main plants, it also grows in other parts than India, such as Africa and the Middle East, as well as in southern Europe.
Benefits and properties of ashwagandha
Ashwagandha provides great health benefits thanks to versatile properties and high concentration of withanolides.
Among the benefits present in the plant, as well as for what ailments or conditions it is used, we could highlight the following, where it is clear what ashwagandha is for:
One of the main uses of this plant in India is to help cleanse the mind. Due to its dual relaxing and revitalizing function, it is very beneficial for concentrating and, at the same time, being mentally relaxed.
It is used to treat stress and anxiety states precisely because of its ability to relax the mind and body.
Its effectiveness in falling asleep and treating insomnia is also well known. Ashwagandha’s sleep-aid properties have been scientifically proven to be very effective.
On the other hand, as it has properties similar to ginseng, it is very useful for treating asthenia, weakness, and fatigue in general, especially in those of advanced age.
It contributes to lower the levels of lipids and sugars in the blood that many antipsychotic medications generate as adverse effects.
It is also attributed to properties that benefit and stimulate the production of thyroid hormones.
In Ayurvedic medicine, it is used as a sexual stimulant, to improve sexual response and to contribute to fertility.
This plant’s extracts are being used experimentally, still without conclusive data, to treat some side effects derived from exposure to radiotherapy in cancer patients.
Ashwagandha is also used to strengthen the immune system.
Properties have also been found to counteract Alzheimer’s.
As you can clearly see, it is a plant that can be used in many cases and for many types of diseases.
How to use ashwagandha
There are different ways to take this Ayurvedic plant, and its root is used mainly, but its leaves and berries also have medicinal properties.
For example, in India, the root is chopped or ground into a powder and then cooked and consumed. It is more common to find it in liquid extract or tincture in other parts, in the form of capsules of the root powder or directly the loose powder to consume it.
The dried or powdered leaves can be used for medicinal concoctions and infusions.
Ashwagandha contraindications and possible side effects
Despite having many beneficial properties, there are contraindications for ashwagandha, mainly it should be avoided when under drug treatment for mental problems such as depression and anxiety, as well as when taking medications for the control and treatment of diabetes or hypertension, anxiety and depression, as it could have side effects.
The same happens with the consumption of sleeping pills, whose combination with ashwagandha could bring more problems than benefits, given the interaction.
Neither is its intake recommended in pregnant or lactating women, since the consumption of this plant in small children and babies is not recommended.
Linda DeCann is US based pursuing her career as brand ambassador. Previously she has helped hundreds of start-ups to build and retain customer’s base. She earned her bachelor’s degree from UT Austin in science and technology management. She has considerable research experience in food and nutrition’s, and enjoy writing food-nutrition’s articles for general readership.
Linda’s passion is connecting with people through food and technology to help them to lead healthier, more balanced lives. Linda also loves cooking in her spare time, going out watching movies, reading books, staying active and writing fiction. Currently she is working with a new start-up Spicy Organic, they offer the best and high-quality organic spices and herbs sourced these ingredients directly from certified organic growers around the world.