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Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is a herb with green flowers and orange color fruits. The word Ashwagandha is derived from the Sanskrit words Ashwa (horse) and Gandha (smell). This is because its roots smell like the sweat of a horse. In Ayurveda, Ashwagandha is known as “Rasayana” meaning “Rejuvenating herb”. The roots, leaves, and fruits of Ashwagandha have medicinal values. Ashwagandha has anti-stress, antihypertensive and antidiabetic properties. It helps in the management of stress, anxiety, male infertility and high blood pressure[2][33][3].

What are the synonyms of Ashwagandha?

Withania somnifera, Indian Ginseng, Ajagandha, Vajigandha, Winter Cherry, Varahkarni, Asgandha [1]

What is the source of Ashwagandha?

Plant Based

Benefits of Ashwagandha

What are the benefits of Ashwagandha for Stress?

scientific
Scientific View
Ashwagandha may improve the individual’s ability to deal with stress.
Stress increases the secretion of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) which in turn increases the cortisol levels (stress hormone) in the body. The root extract of Ashwagandha reduces the level of cortisol and helps to reduce stress and stress-related problems[3].
Tips:
1. Take 1/2 teaspoon of Ashwagandha root powder and boil it in 2 cups of water.
2. Add a pinch of ginger. Boil till it reduces to half.
3. Cool the mixture and add honey to enhance its taste.
4. Drink this tea to relax your mind.

What are the benefits of Ashwagandha for Male infertility?

scientific
Scientific View
Ashwagandha is a potent aphrodisiac and might help in stress-induced male infertility by improving the level of testosterone. Ashwagandha has antioxidant property and fights against the free radicals. This prevents damage and death of sperm cells leading to better sperm count and quality. Thus Ashwagandha helps to lower the risk of stress-induced male infertility along with enhancing male sexual health[7].
Tips:
1. Take 1/2 teaspoon of Ashwagandha root powder along with ghee, sugar and honey daily for a month once or twice a day to improve sperm quality.
2. Or, mix 1/2 teaspoon of Ashwagandha root powder in a glass of warm milk. Drink this at bedtime.

What are the benefits of Ashwagandha for Diabetes?

scientific
Scientific View
Ashwagandha might control blood sugar in diabetic patients by increasing insulin production and improving insulin sensitivity.
Studies state that Ashwagandha makes the cells less resistant to insulin. This improves insulin sensitivity and increases glucose utilization by the cells. Ashwagandha also protects and increases the number of the insulin-producing cells thus increasing insulin secretion. Together, it helps to manage the risk of diabetes[12-14].
Tips:
1. Take 1 glass of milk and 1/2 a glass of water in a pan and bring it to boil.
2. Add 1/2 teaspoon of Ashwagandha root powder and boil for another 5 minutes.
3. Add crushed almonds and walnut (around 2 teaspoons) to the mixture.
4. Drink this mixture to manage blood sugar level.
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
According to Ayurveda, there are two types of diabetes therapy. One is Aptarpana (de-nourishment) and Santarpana (replenishment). Aptarpana treatment is useful in obese diabetics with Kapha body type and Santarpana treatment is useful in lean diabetics usually with Vata or Pitta type body. Ashwagandha works on both types of therapies by balancing Vata and Kapha dosha.
Tip:
Take 1 Ashwagandha capsule or tablet twice a day with milk or warm water after 2 hours of meals along with your existing treatment.

What are the benefits of Ashwagandha for Anxiety?

scientific
Scientific View
Ashwagandha may improve the individual’s ability to deal with stress and stress-related problems like anxiety.
Stress increases the secretion of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) which in turn increases the cortisol levels (stress hormone) in the body. The root extract of Ashwagandha reduces the level of cortisol and helps to reduce stress and its associated problems like anxiety[3].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
According to Ayurveda, anxiety is associated with aggravated Vata dosha, so one must concentrate on pacifying excess Vata in the body. Ashwagandha has the property of balancing Vata dosha and is good for managing anxiety.

What are the benefits of Ashwagandha for Arthritis?

scientific
Scientific View
Ashwagandha might reduce pain associated with arthritis.
Studies state that Ashwagandha has analgesic property. It is seen that the roots and leaves of Ashwagandha contain withaferin A which inhibits the production of pain mediators such as prostaglandins. This reduces the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis[17-20].
Tips:
1. Take 1/2 teaspoon of Ashwagandha root powder.
2. Mix it in 1 glass of milk.
3. Drink this thrice a day.
4. Continue for at least 1-2 months for better results.
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
The main cause of arthritis is an imbalance of Vata dosha in the body and Ashwagandha works towards balancing Vata and helps reduce symptoms of arthritis.

What are the benefits of Ashwagandha for High blood pressure?

scientific
Scientific View
Ashwagandha may improve the individual’s ability to deal with stress and stress-related problems like high blood pressure.
Stress increases the secretion of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) which in turn increases the cortisol levels (stress hormone) in the body. The root extract of Ashwagandha reduces the level of cortisol and helps to reduce stress and its associated problems like high blood pressure[3].
Tips:
1. Take 1/2 teaspoon of Ashwagandha root powder in a cup of water.
2. Boil the mixture in a pan for at least 10 minutes.
3. Add few drops of lemon and 1 teaspoon of honey to enhance the taste.
4. Drink this mixture once a day in the morning.
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
There are many reasons for an increase in blood pressure and one such is stress and anxiety. Ashwagandha can help reduce stress and anxiety by balancing Vata dosha.
Tip:
Start with 1 capsule or tablet of Ashwagandha two hours after meals with milk. Also monitor your blood pressure regularly while taking Ashwagandha with other antihypertensive drugs.

What are the benefits of Ashwagandha for Parkinson's disease?

scientific
Scientific View
Ashwagandha might be useful in Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease is due to damage of the nerve cells which affects movement, muscle control and balance of the body. Ashwagandha prevents damage of nerve cells due to its antioxidant property. This reduces the risk of Parkinson and its associated problems[21-23].

How effective is Ashwagandha?

Insufficient evidence
Anxiety, Arthritis, Diabetes, High blood pressure, Male infertility, Parkinson's disease, Stress

Precautions when using Ashwagandha

Advice from Experts
Important
scientific
Scientific View
Ashwagandha may cause gastrointestinal disturbances, so please a consult a doctor before taking Ashwagandha if you are suffering from peptic ulcer[26].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Ashwagandha may cause gastrointestinal disturbances. So it is generally advised to use Ashwagandha with caution in people with Pitta and Ama imbalance.
Alcohol
scientific
Scientific View
Ashwagandha may cause sedation. Avoid consuming alcohol while taking Ashwagandha as it may cause excessive sleepiness.[28].
Breastfeeding
scientific
Scientific View
Due to lack of scientific evidence, Ashwagandha should be avoided during breastfeeding[26].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Ayurvedic doctor supervision is needed while taking Ashwagandha during breastfeeding, self medication should be avoided.
Minor Medicine Interaction
scientific
Scientific View
Ashwagandha increases the production of thyroid hormones(T4). It is generally advised to monitor your thyroid levels regularly while taking Ashwagandha along with hyperthyroidism drugs[4].
Moderate Medicine Interaction
scientific
Scientific View
Ashwagandha may possess immunomodulatory effects. If you are on therapy of immunomodulatory drugs, please consult your doctor before taking Ashwagandha[26].
scientific
Scientific View
Ashwagandha may cause sedation.Taking sedatives along with Ashwagandha might cause excessive sleepiness, so please consult your doctor[4].
scientific
Scientific View
Ashwagandha has good androgenic (testosterone-like) properties. Taking Ashwagandha along with 5α-reductase inhibitors may antagonize or oppose the androgenic effects of Ashwagandha. So please consult your doctor[26][27].
Patients with diabetes
scientific
Scientific View
Ashwagandha may lower the blood glucose levels. So it is generally advised to monitor the sugar levels regularly while taking Ashwagandha along with other anti-diabetic drugs[26].
Patients with heart disease
scientific
Scientific View
Ashwagandha may lower blood pressure. So it is generally advised to monitor the blood pressure regularly while taking Ashwagandha along with anti-hypertensive drugs[26].
Patients with kidney disease
Important
scientific
Scientific View
Ashwagandha has diuretic properties. So please consult a doctor before taking Ashwagandha if you have a kidney disease[26].
Pregnancy
scientific
Scientific View
Avoid Ashwagandha during pregnancy as it may increase uterine contractions[26].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Consult an Ayurvedic doctor before taking Ashwagandha during pregnancy, self-medication should be avoided.
Side Effects
Important
scientific
Scientific View
1. Sedation
2. Decrease in blood pressure
3. Diarrhea
4. Nausea
5. Abdominal pain
6. Irritation of mucous and serous membranes[26]

Recommended Dosage of Ashwagandha

  • Ashwagandha Tablet - 1-2 tablet twice a day.
  • Ashwagandha Capsule - 1-2 capsule twice a day.
  • Ashwagandha Churna - ½-1 teaspoon (1-3 gm) twice a day.

How to use Ashwagandha

1. Ashwagandha Tablets
Take Ashwagandha tablets (1-2) with warm milk or water.

2. Ashwagandha Capsules
Take Ashwagandha capsules (1-2) with warm milk or water.

3. Ashwagandha Churna
a. With milk and honey
i. Take Ashwagandha Churna ½ to 1 teaspoon along with milk or honey.
ii. Take it preferably 2 hours after meals.

b. Ashwagandha Tea
i. Add 1 teaspoon of Ashwagandha powder to 2 cups of water.
ii. Bring it to boil.
iii. Boil the mixture until it reduces to 1/2 of the original quantity.
iv. Add some milk and honey to it.
v. Enjoy the hot beverage in the morning and evening.

c. Ashwagandha Milkshake
i. Roast 4 tablespoons of Ashwagandha Churna in 1 cup of pure ghee.
ii. Add 2 tablespoon of honey to it.
iii. To consume, add 1 teaspoon of this powder to 1 glass of cold milk.
iv. Blend it well and drink immediately for maximum benefits and taste.
v. You can store this mixture in the refrigerator and use when needed[29].

d. Ashwagandha Ladoo
i. Take 2 tablespoons of Ashwagandha Churna.
ii. Add 1 tablespoon of jaggery powder to it.
iii. Add a pinch of black salt and pepper to the mixture to enhance the taste.
iv. Knead the mixture evenly and properly.
v. Make well-rounded balls of the above mixture by circular motion between the palms.
vi. Enjoy this as a dessert to reap the benefits of Ashwagandha[30].

e. Ashwagandha Shrikhand
i. Take a small bowl (250 gms) of thick curd.
ii. The curd in a muslin cloth to drain all the water to get hung curd (chakka).
iii. Remove the hung curd (chakka) from muslin cloth and keep it in the refrigerator.
iv. Divide the hung curd into 4 parts.
v. Add sugar as per your taste and 1 tablespoon Ashwagandha powder to each part.
vi. You can also add some dry fruits and cardamom powder to enhance its taste.
vii. Knead each portion well to make it smooth.
viii. Cool it in the refrigerator for some time.
ix. Enjoy the delicious Ashwagandha shrikhand for its nutritional and health benefits[31].

Frequently asked questions

Q. In what forms Ashwagandha is available?

scientific
Scientific View
You can buy Ashwagandha from reliable ayurvedic practitioners in 3 forms:
1. Powder (Churna)
2. Capsules
3. Tablet

Q. How to take Ashwagandha extract?

ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Generally, Ashwagandha extract is available in the form of capsules or tablets in the market. Ashwagandha extract can be taken 600-1200 mg/day. 1-2 capsule or tablet can be taken once a day.

Q. How to use Ashwagandha oil?

ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Ashwagandha oil is said to pacify Vata and Kapha doshas and increase Pitta energy. Ashwagandha oil is safe to use locally and for full body massages. The oil can be used as suggested below:-
1. Take some oil in your palm and apply generously over the affected area.
2. Massage the oil.
3. Cover your body immediately after using this oil.
4. Avoid contact with cold weather immediately after massaging with Ashwagandha oil.

Q. Can Ashwagandha make you lose weight?

scientific
Scientific View
Yes, Ashwagandha can help you manage your weight by lowering the cortisol levels. Cortisol is known as the ‘stress hormone’ because adrenal glands release it in response to stress. Elevated cortisol levels increase hunger and craving for sweets, fried food, and soft drinks. These cravings result in increased calorie consumption leading to weight gain. Ashwagandha reduces the level of cortisol and decreases stress-induced cravings. This helps in better weight management[5][24].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
According to Ayurveda, increase in weight is due to aggravated Vata and Kapha dosha which leads to accumulation of fat in the body. Ashwagandha has the property of balancing both Vata and Kapha.
Tip:
1. For better results, Ashwagandha leaf extract should be taken in the churna form.
2. Take 1-2gm churna twice a day with lukewarm water after taking a light meal.

Q. Is Ashwagandha good for hair loss?

scientific
Scientific View
Yes, Ashwagandha helps to manage stress-induced hair loss. Stress is known to increase the secretion of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) which in turn increases the cortisol levels in the body. Ashwagandha is a well-known adaptogen that improves an individual’s ability to deal with this stress. It normalizes the functions of the body and helps the body adapt to changes. Ashwagandha root extract reduces the level of serum cortisol and also helps to reduce stress and stress-related problems like hair loss[3].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Ayurveda says that the reason for hair fall is aggravated Vata dosha in the body and Ashwagandha acts on hair fall by balancing Vata dosha. Moreover, Ashwagandha also gives oiliness to the scalp due to its Snigdha (oily) property.
Tip:
Use Ashwagandha based hair oil preferably at night 3 times a week for at least six months for better results.

Q. Can Ashwagandha increase height?

scientific
Scientific View
There is no such scientific evidence to prove that Ashwagandha increases height but it does help maintain good bone health and prevent bone damage[6]. It helps in improving the body composition and increases muscle mass and strength.
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Ashwagandha is a Rasayana herb, which means that it increases the essence of each Dhatu (tissues) starting from Rasa, Rakta (blood), Mansa (muscles), Medha (fat), Asthi (bones) Majja and Shukra. Taking Ashwagandha can improve the size of bones (Asthi) but the result depends on various other factors like Prakriti (body type), age of the person, the strength of Pachak Agni (digestive fire).

Q. Can Ashwagandha increase testosterone hormone?

scientific
Scientific View
Yes, Ashwagandha might improve the level of testosterone hormone. Ashwagandha being a potent aphrodisiac helps in the development of testes thereby improving testosterone synthesis. Apart from this, Ashwagandha helps to fight against the free radicals, reduces the damage and death of sperm cells. Thus, Ashwagandha not only increases testosterone but is also good for other male sexual disorders[7][16].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
In Ayurveda, Rasayana herb increases all types of Dhatus in the body. Since Ashwagandha is a Rasayana herb it increases all dhatus including Shukra dhatu (similarity with semen) in the body.
Tip:
For best results, take 1 teaspoon of Ashwagandha Avaleha two hours after meals twice a day for at least 3 months.

Q. What are the benefits of Ashwagandha for men?

scientific
Scientific View
Some of the benefits of Ashwagandha for men are:
1. Helps in stress management
2. Helps cope with anxiety
3. Known to increase strength and stamina

Apart from these benefits, Ashwagandha being a potent aphrodisiac works on some important factors contributing to male infertility like sperm count, sperm movement, semen quality and hormonal imbalance. It not only helps in the development of testes but also improves testosterone synthesis. Due to its antioxidant property, Ashwagandha helps to fight against the free radicals. This prevents damage and death of sperm cells. Thus, Ashwagandha not only helps in male infertility but is also used in other male sexual disorders like erectile dysfunction[7].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
In Ayurveda, Ashwagandha is said to have multiple benefits for men like Vajikarna (increases sexual desire), as a Rasayana herb (rejuvenates the body), increases Balya (strength), improves the quality and quantity of Shukra dhatu (similarity with semen) and reduces Tanav (stress).

Q. Can Ashwagandha cure depression?

scientific
Scientific View
Stress is considered as one of the main cause of depression. Stress is known to increase the secretion of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) which in turn increases the cortisol levels in the body. Ashwagandha is a well-known adaptogen that improves an individual’s ability to deal with this stress. Ashwagandha root extract reduces the level of serum cortisol and also helps to reduce stress and stress-related problems like depression[3].

Q. Is Ashwagandha good for sleep

scientific
Scientific View
Yes, Ashwagandha is considered to be good for sleep and sleep-related disorders like insomnia. Ashwagandha does not act as a sedative rather it helps to calm the nerves which in turn helps the body to sleep. Ashwagandha being an adaptogenic herb also improves the individual’s ability to deal with stress-induced insomnia. Stress increases the secretion of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) which in turn increases the cortisol levels in the body. Ashwagandha reduces the level of cortisol and helps to reduce stress and stress-related problems like insomnia.
Tips:
Take a pinch of Ashwagandha powder.
Add it to 1 glass of warm milk.
Stir well and drink it before going to bed[3][8].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
According to Ayurveda, aggravated Vata dosha makes the nervous system sensitive which leads to Anidra (insomnia). Ashwagandha is a relaxing herb which works on balancing Vata dosha and leads to good, sleep.


Q. Can Ashwagandha cure cancer?

scientific
Scientific View
Yes, some studies state that Ashwagandha might be helpful in cancer. Ashwagandha might be able to stop the growth of cancer cells. Also, it reduces the side effects of chemotherapy.

Q. Can Ashwagandha reduce hot flashes?

scientific
Scientific View
Most of the women undergoing menopause experience hot flashes which is a feeling of intense heat. These symptoms are mainly associated with stress which in turn increases the cortisol levels in the body. Ashwagandha can help relieve stress-induced hot flashes by reducing the cortisol level in the body[10].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Menopause marks the transition from the Pitta to the Vata phase of life. During this transition, an imbalance in both Vata and Pitta causes hot flashes. Ashwagandha powder can be good for balancing both the doshas.

Q. Can Ashwagandha cause nausea?

scientific
Scientific View
Ashwagandha is generally considered well-tolerated in small to medium doses but large doses of Ashwagandha can cause nausea, diarrhea and vomiting[4][16].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
There might be a slight feeling of nausea when Ashwagandha is taken for the first time in churna form. This is because Ashwagandha churna can be slightly hard to digest especially for those who have a weak Pachak Agni. To manage this, it is advised to take Ashwagandha capsule or tablet for the first time instead of churna.

Q. Should Ashwagandha be avoided with those with autoimmune diseases?

scientific
Scientific View
Ashwagandha is known to boost the immune system. But this can be a problem for people with autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis etc. This is because Ashwagandha might stimulate the immune system, increasing the symptoms of autoimmune disorders[4].

References

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  4. WebMD.Ashwagandha:Uses, Side effects, Interactions, Dosage [Internet]. Atlanta [last updated in 2016].
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Disclaimer
The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.