Ashwagandha has been used for thousands of years in India by Ayurvedic practitioners to not only manage stress-related conditions, but also help with chronic fatigue, insomnia and adrenal fatigue to name a few.
Here are the top ten incredible wellbeing benefits of ashwagandha…
Lowers stress hormones and calms anxiety
Ashwagandha acts as a depressant to the central nervous system, turning anxiety into a sense of calm.
Ashwagandha targets stress directly by regulating the imbalanced cortisol level and nourishing the adrenal glands. Ashwagandha is well-researched, with several studies supporting its effectiveness in managing the effects of stress[i],[ii].
Helps manage weight gain and reduce comfort eating
Ashwagandha also helps people to manage their body weight when stress is an issue.
Psychological stress is often linked to weight-gain and obesity, as raised levels of stress hormones over long periods can lead to increased weight gain.
Chronic stress may also lead to changes in eating behaviour – it is all too easy to comfort eat and reach for the biscuit tin in the face of stress.
- Improves sleep
Stress is often at the root of our sleeping problems. When we’re troubled, our sleep is too.
Ashwagandha’s botanical name, Withania somnifera, gives us further clues as to its properties.
The Latin word ‘somnifera’ is translated as ‘sleep-inducing’, reflecting its ability to support deeper sleep.
By nourishing and strengthening over-anxious nervous systems, studies show that Ashwagandha helps us to relax enough to get a better night’s sleep.
- Supports healthy blood sugar
Ashwagandha has also been shown to stabilise and lower blood sugar levels in both healthy and diabetic adults. This is of great significance, in an age when many adults are showing signs of blood sugar levels which are too high.[iii]
As many as a third of adults in the UK having prediabetes, also known as borderline diabetes, according to the NHS, so ashwagandha could help.
- Stops stress prematurely ageing skin
An added bonus of taking ashwagandha is its ability to protect our skin. Stress can play a large role in skin damage by producing high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which in turn, blocks the production of important proteins that are necessary for healthy skin.
One of these proteins is collagen, which helps to keep skin firm and elastic.
Research has shown that taking ashwagandha reduces cortisol levels allowing collagen production to work as it’s supposed to – by helping to keep you looking and feeling good.
- Supports strength and muscle mass
Taken regularly, it can reduce muscle inflammation and to strengthen muscle tone. Studies support this traditional use, making it the perfect support to make those trips to the gym even more effective.
- Improves libido and sexual performance
Ashwagandha is used to improve sexual performance and libido in both men and women.
It regulates the amount of adrenalin produced and strengthens organs, improving stamina as well as increasing sperm count and motility in men, and improving libido in women[iv].
One study shows that women who took a daily dose of ashwagandha over a month saw significant improvements in achieving orgasm and sexual arousal due to a significant reduction in sexually related distress.
Beyond decreasing the effects of stress it’s suggested that ashwagandha’s role in increasing testosterone was also key as this is a factor in androgen deficiency syndrome, which in turn is also associated with female sexual dysfunction[ix].
- Supports memory and brain function
Effects on brain function, including memory, are also of increasing interest.
The herb has traditionally been used to boost memory in Ayurveda, supported by research showing it promotes antioxidant activity that protects nerve cells from harmful free radicals.
An eight-week study in 50 adults showed that taking 300 mg of ashwagandha root extract twice daily significantly improved general memory, task performance, and attention. [v]
- Bolsters immunity
Most adaptogen herbs have a positive effect on our immune system and ashwagandha is no exception.
It is traditionally used to support a weakened immune system and it has now been shown to encourage anti-inflammatory and disease-fighting immune cells that help to ward off illness.
- Improves energy, stamina and endurance
As a rejuvenating tonic, Ayurveda has used ashwagandha for centuries to alleviate fatigue and improve general well-being.
Its effects on increasing energy, stamina and endurance are becoming increasingly known. It has been shown to significantly enhance athletic performance by improving heart and lung capacity while increasing energy levels.
This makes it a great support for those who struggle energy or have fatigue-related conditions, such as chronic fatigue syndrome.
Pukka Organic Ashwagandha capsules (30’s £16.95 & 60’s £29.95) are available to purchase online from www.pukkaherbs.com, Ocado, Amazon, Planet Organic, Boots, Superdrug and through many independent health food stores.
By Jo Webber, Herbal practitioner and Head of Herbal Education, Pukka Herbs