Complete Guide to Ashwagandha and Its Benefits

Complete Guide to Ashwagandha and Its Benefits

Ashwagandha might be tricky to pronounce (it’s ash-wa-gan-da, FYI) but this small, evergreen plant has become the health influencer’s supplement du jour . Touted as the ultimate remedy to 21st century living , ashwaganda is what’s known as an ‘adaptogen’. “In other words, it’s a natural substance that helps the body to adapt to stress ,” explains Mina Khan, a pharmacist with a background in Indian Ayurvedic medicine.

While it may be new to us Brits, ashwagandha is a powerful herb that is prominent in Ayurvedic medicine, one of the world’s oldest medical systems, and its history of use as a medicine dates back to AD 6000. The bioactive compounds in the plant exert ‘antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory activities’ that herbalists say can help reduce stress and anxiety, boost testosterone levels , and potentially alleviate the symptoms of certain diseases.

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In a world filled with relentless calendar notifications a natural stress-soothing solution definitely appeals. “The modern world brings with it lots of stress and long working hours for many,” says Khan, “ashwagandha is likely to be particularly of interest to people who want natural solutions to stress; and want to enhance their energy levels and benefit from increased mental clarity .” Ashwagandha Root

Native to India, North Africa and the Middle East, ashwagandha’s botanical name is withania somnifera, though it’s sometimes referred to as Indian ginseng or winter cherry. If this all seems a bit too far removed from your local supermarket, ashwagandha is part of the nightshade family, which includes potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, and chilli peppers. While various parts of the plant are used, including the leaves, seeds, and even fruit, ashwagandha root is used most commonly.

“Ashwagandha adapts to the needs of the body, helping to support it and reduce negative changes during times of emotional and physical stress by strengthening the endocrine and nervous systems,” says Sebastian Pole, co-founder and master herbsmith at Pukka Herbs . This capacity to help the body adapt to stress “is reflected by its ability to thrive in very dry conditions in poor-quality soils,” he continues. “Most plants would suffer from severe stress in such an environment.”

This content is imported from {embed-name}. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site. Ashwagandha supposedly smells like horses – ashva means ‘horse’ and gandha means ‘smell’ in Sanskrit – and the name also refers to the horse-like strength the herb is purported to stimulate. Don’t let the horse connotations put you off, though. Here, we run through the science-backed benefits associated with ashwagandha, including the dosage and side effects. Ashwagandha Benefits

While there are a whole host of health benefits associated with taking ashwagandha, spanning cognitive function, immune system support , adrenal function, sports performance, energy metabolism and more, human studies have so far been small scale.

There are also variables in the way ashwagandha is approached – the leaves, seeds, fruits and roots have been experimented with in different ways, and there isn’t a standard dosage that’s been studied by modern clinical trials. Even so, the science that does exist is promising.

“Ayurveda views ashwagandha as one of the most prized rejuvenating herbs, known as a ‘rasayana’ in Sanskrit,” explains Pole. “Rasayanas are thought to enhance both the quality and quantity of life, nourish the mind and enhance physical vigour, making them perfect for when we are feeling weak and exhausted .” 8 Things Not To Do At The Gym

by Men’s Health UK

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Refresh the page to resume playback.8 Things Not To Do At The Gymby Men’s Health UKBeginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteTransparencyOpaqueBackgroundColorBlackTransparencyOpaqueWindowColorBlackTransparencyTransparentFont Size50%Text Edge StyleNoneFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifEnd of dialog window. Replay “8 Things Not To Do At The Gym” Up Next01:28 Never, Ever Be This Guy in the Gym 01:2803:35 What women hate men doing at the gym 03:3500:39 MH UK Gym Chat – 1 00:39 Ashwagandha Soothes Anxiety and Stress The key chemical ingredients in ashwagandha are withaferin A and withanolide A. These mimic GABA, an amino acid which acts as a neurotransmitter in your central nervous system and calms nervous activity, according to a rodent study by California State University .And human studies have shown it can reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety. When researchers in India asked people with chronic stress to supplement with ashwagandha root, 69 per cent reported a reduction in anxiety and insomnia, compared with 11 per cent in the control group.Related Story Why Multivitamins Could Help You Lose Weight Various studies – both animal and human – have found that ashwagandha helps to reduce cortisol levels, too. “Stress causes a surge in the adrenal hormones – adrenaline and cortisol – that increase alertness,” says Pole.Not only does ashwagandha regulate imbalanced cortisol levels and nourish the adrenal glands, Pole continues, it also acts as a tonic. “This means it will strengthen an exhausted or agitated nervous system while at the same time calming it,” he says. Ashwagandha Enhances Muscle Growth and Strength The herb could supercharge your gym sessions, too, since it’s been shown to increase muscle mass, reduce body fat, and increase strength in men. In a study of 57 men , taking ashwagandha led to “significant increases in muscle mass and strength ” and more than doubled their reductions in body fat percentage compared to a placebo group. Another study found that healthy men who took around one gram of ashwagandha per day saw gains in muscle strength after 30 days. “This quality of ashwagandha also makes it helpful for recovering from weakness in any post-illness convalescence period,” adds Pole. Corey JenkinsGetty Images Ashwagandha Boosts Brain Function and Memory Ashwagandha […]

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