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Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha
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.
Ashwagandha helps in the management of stress, anxiety and diabetes due to its Rasayana (rejuvenating) and Vata balancing properties. Ashwagandha root powder, when taken with milk, helps in managing male infertility as well as erectile dysfunction. This is due to its aphrodisiac property.
One important precaution with Ashwagandha is that it should be avoided during pregnancy as it might increase uterine contractions[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
Modern Science 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. Ashwagandha powder reduces the level of cortisol and helps to reduce stress and stress-related problems[3].

ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Stress can usually be attributed to an imbalance of Vata dosha, and often presents with irritability, insomnia, and fear. Taking Ashwagandha powder helps in balancing Vata and thus reduces the symptoms of stress.
Tip:
1. Take 1/4-1/2 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 Anxiety?

scientific
Modern Science 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. Ashwagandha powder 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 Male infertility?

scientific
Modern Science 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].

ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Ashwagandha helps to reduce stress-induced male infertility by lowering stress. This is due to its Vata balancing property. It also helps to reduce the chance of male infertility by improving sperm quality and quantity. This is because of its Vrishya (aphrodisiac) property.
Tip:
1. Take 1/4-1/2 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 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of Ashwagandha root powder in a glass of warm milk. Drink this at bedtime.

What are the benefits of Ashwagandha for Diabetes mellitus (Type 1 & Type 2)?

scientific
Modern Science 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].
Tip:
1. Take 1 glass of milk and 1/2 a glass of water in a pan and bring it to boil.
2. Add 1/4-1/2 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 Arthritis?

scientific
Modern Science 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].

ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Ashwagandha is useful to manage pain in arthritis. According to Ayurveda, arthritis occurs due to an aggravation of Vata dosha and is known as Sandhivata. It causes pain, swelling, and joint mobility. Ashwagandha powder has Vata balancing property and gives relief from the symptoms of arthritis-like pain and swelling in the joints.
Tip:
1. Take 1/4-1/2 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.

What are the benefits of Ashwagandha for Hypertension (high blood pressure)?

scientific
Modern Science 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. Ashwagandha powder reduces the level of cortisol and helps to reduce stress and its associated problems like high blood pressure[3].
Tip:
1. Take 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of Ashwagandha root powder in a cup of water.
2. Boil the mixture in a pan for at least 10 minutes.
3. Add a 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
Hypertension is known as Rakta Gata Vata in Ayurveda which means elevated pressure of the blood in the arteries. The aim of Ayurvedic treatment for hypertension is identifying the root cause of the condition and then taking herbs that can eradicate the problem from its roots. Stress or anxiety is also a root cause of hypertension and taking Ashwagandha helps to reduce stress or anxiety and thus control high blood pressure.
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
Modern Science 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].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Ashwagandha helps to control the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
A disease condition 'Vepathu' described in Ayurveda may be correlated with Parkinson's disease. It is caused by vitiated Vata. Taking Ashwagandha powder balances Vata and also helps to reduce the degeneration of cells which controls the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

How effective is Ashwagandha?

Insufficient evidence
Anxiety, Arthritis, Diabetes mellitus (Type 1 & Type 2), Hypertension (high blood pressure), Male infertility, Parkinson's disease, Stress

Precautions when using Ashwagandha

Advice from Experts
Important
scientific
Modern Science View
Ashwagandha may cause gastrointestinal disturbances, so please consult a doctor before taking Ashwagandha or its supplements if you are suffering from peptic ulcer[26].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Ashwagandha may cause gastrointestinal disturbances. So it is generally advisable to use Ashwagandha with caution in people with Pitta and Ama imbalance.
Breastfeeding
Important
scientific
Modern Science View
Due to lack of scientific evidence, Ashwagandha should be avoided if you are breastfeeding[26].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Ayurvedic doctor supervision is needed while taking Ashwagandha during breastfeeding, self medication should be avoided.
Minor Medicine Interaction
scientific
Modern Science View
Ashwagandha increases the production of thyroid hormones(T4). So it is generally advisable to monitor your thyroid levels regularly while taking Ashwagandha along with hyperthyroidism drugs[4].
Moderate Medicine Interaction
Important
scientific
Modern Science View
1. Ashwagandha may possess immunomodulatory effects. So it is advisable to consult a doctor if you are taking Ashwagandha or its supplements along with immunomodulatory drugs[26].
2. Ashwagandha may cause sedation. So it is advisable to consult a doctor before taking Ashwagandha or its supplements along with sedatives as it may cause excessive sleepiness[4].


Patients with diabetes
scientific
Modern Science View
Ashwagandha may lower blood glucose levels. So it is generally advisable to monitor the sugar levels regularly if you are taking Ashwagandha or its supplements along with other anti-diabetic drugs[26].
Patients with heart disease
scientific
Modern Science View
Ashwagandha may lower blood pressure. So it is generally advisable to monitor the blood pressure regularly if you are taking Ashwagandha or its supplements along with anti-hypertensive drugs[26].
Patients with kidney disease
Important
scientific
Modern Science View
Ashwagandha has diuretic properties. This might lead to kidney lesions (abnormal growth in the kidney). So please consult a doctor before taking Ashwagandha or its supplements if you already have kidney problems[26].
Pregnancy
Important
scientific
Modern Science 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
Modern Science View
1. Sedation
2. Low blood pressure
3. Diarrhea
4. Nausea
5. Abdominal pain[26]
alcohol
scientific
Modern Science View
Ashwagandha may cause sedation. Avoid consuming alcohol while taking Ashwagandha as it may cause excessive sleepiness.[28].

Recommended Dosage of Ashwagandha

  • Ashwagandha Tablet - 1 tablet twice a day or as prescribed by the doctor
  • Ashwagandha Capsule - 1 capsule twice a day or as prescribed by the doctor.
  • Ashwagandha Churna - 1/4-1/2 teaspoon twice a day or as prescribed by the doctor.

How to use Ashwagandha

1. Ashwagandha Tablets
Take 1 Ashwagandha tablet or as prescribed by the doctor
with warm milk or water after taking food twice a day.

2. Ashwagandha Capsules
Take 1 Ashwagandha capsule or as prescribes by the doctor
with warm milk or water after taking food twice a day.

3. Ashwagandha Powder (Churna)
a. With milk or honey
Take 1/4-1/2 teaspoon Ashwagandha powder (churna) with milk or honey or as prescribed by the doctor.

b. Ashwagandha Tea
i. Add 1 teaspoon of Ashwagandha powder to 2 cups of water.
ii. Bring it to a boil.
iii. Boil until it reduces to 1/2 of the original quantity.
iv. Add some milk and honey to it.
v. Drink once a day.
vi. You can skip honey in case of high blood sugar level.

c. Ashwagandha Milkshake
i. Roast 4 tablespoons of Ashwagandha powder (churna) in 1 cup of pure ghee.
ii. Add 1-2 teaspoon 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 better taste.
v. You can store this mixture in the refrigerator and use when needed[29].
vi. Skip honey in case of high blood sugar level.

d. Ashwagandha Ladoo
i. Take 2 tablespoons of Ashwagandha powder (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 round shape laddu with the above mixture in a circular motion between your palms[30].
vi. You can store them in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

e. Ashwagandha Shrikhand
i. Take 250 gms thick curd.
ii. Put the curd in a muslin cloth to drain all the water to get hung curd.
iii. Remove the hung curd from muslin cloth and keep it in the refrigerator.
iv. Divide the hung curd into 4 parts.
v. Add sugar/honey 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. You can replace sugar or honey with jaggery[31].

Frequently asked questions

Q. In what forms Ashwagandha is available?

scientific
Modern Science View
Ashwagandha is available 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.
Tip:
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 body contact to cold weather immediately after massaging with Ashwagandha oil.

Q. How to take Ashwagandha powder?

ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
You can take Ashwagandha powder with either milk or honey.
i. Take 1/4-1/2 teaspoon Ashwagandha powder along with 1 cup lukewarm milk or 1 teaspoon honey.
ii. Take it preferably 2 hours after meals.

Q. Can Ashwagandha make you lose weight?

scientific
Modern Science View
Yes, Ashwagandha can help 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
An increase in weight is due to unhealthy food habits and lifestyle which leads to a weak digestive fire. This increases accumulation of Ama causing an imbalance in Meda dhatu thus resulting in obesity. Ashwagandha leaves are useful to control obesity as it helps improve metabolism and reduce Ama. This is due to its Kapha balancing property. It also balances Meda dhatu and thus reduces obesity.
Tip:
Take 1-2gm Ashwagandha leaf powder twice a day with lukewarm water after taking a light meal.

Q. Is Ashwagandha good for hair loss?

scientific
Modern Science 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 powder reduces the level of serum cortisol and also helps to reduce stress and stress-related problems like hair loss[3].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
According to Ayurveda, the reason behind 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. This helps prevent breakage of hair.
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
Modern Science View
Although there is no scientific evidence to state that Ashwagandha increases height; it does help maintain good bone health and prevent bone damage[6]. It helps in improving 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
Modern Science View
Yes, Ashwagandha might improve the level of testosterone hormone. It helps increase testosterone levels in stressed individuals by decreasing the level of stress hormone, Cortisol. Ashwagandha being a potent aphrodisiac also 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
According to 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
Modern Science 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 helps to enhance male infertility by improving the 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
Modern Science 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 powder 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
Modern Science 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.
Tip:
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
Modern Science 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
Modern Science 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 is a state of physical and mental transformation in women. The body shows some serious symptoms and one of them is frequent hot flashes. According to Ayurveda, hot flashes in menopausal women are usually due to the buildup of wastes and toxins in the body, referred to as Ama. Taking Ashwagandha helps to remove these toxins (Ama) because of Kapha and Vata balancing property and thus control hot flashes.

Q. Can Ashwagandha cause nausea?

scientific
Modern Science View
Ashwagandha is generally considered well-tolerated in small to medium doses but high doses of Ashwagandha powder 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 powder form. This is because Ashwagandha powder can be slightly hard to digest especially for those who have a weak Pachak agni. In order to avoid this, you can start with Ashwagandha capsule or tablet for the first time instead of powder.

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

scientific
Modern Science 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].

Q. Is Ashwagandha good for thyroid?

scientific
Modern Science View
Yes, Ashwagandha is good for thyroid. Ashwagandha contains alkaloids, steroidal and saponin which are essential in balancing thyroid hormones. Ashwagandha is also known to have strong antioxidant property. Ashwagandha powder helps reduce oxidative stress in the thyroid gland by scavenging free radicals. This helps improve overall thyroid activity[25].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
The thyroid function is controlled by Pitta dosha. In hypothyroidism, layering of Kapha dosha and Medha dhatu prevents Pitta dosha in cellular level functions. Ashwagandha helps to remove the coating of Kapha dosha and Meddha dhatu and reduces the symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Tip:
Start Ashwagandha churna 1-3 gm mixed with honey. Take it 45 minutes before lunch & dinner. Use it for at least 3 to 4 months for best results.

Q. Is Ashwagandha good for bodybuilding?

scientific
Modern Science View
Bodybuilding or increase in muscle size and function can be by increasing the level of testosterone. Ashwagandha works by reducing the level of stress hormone-Cortisol and improves the level of testosterone. It also acts on the nervous system as anti-anxiety agent and helps in promoting focus and concentration. This leads to better coordination and recruitment of muscles.
Together, Ashwagandha helps in bodybuilding[35].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Yes, you can take Ashwagandha for bodybuilding. This is because Ashwagandha root powder has Rasayana (rejuvenating) and Balya (strength provider) properties which help to gain weight and in bodybuilding.

Q. Can you take Ashwagandha before surgery?

scientific
Modern Science View
Ashwagandha may slow down the central nervous system. Anesthesia and other medications during and after surgery might increase this effect. So it is advisable to stop taking Ashwagandha or its supplements at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery[4].

Q. Does Ashwagandha increase testosterone in females?

scientific
Modern Science View
Chronic stress may lead to sexual dysfunctions in females. This can be in the form of lack of sexual arousal, orgasmic disorders or hypoactive sexual desire disorder. Ashwagandha acts on the nervous system and reduces the level of stress hormone-Cortisol. This helps reduce stress-related sexual problems[36].

References

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