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Ashwagandha Health Benefits and Side Effects - What is Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) and its uses

Updated on February 06, 2014

Overview

  • Introduction
  • Short Facts
  • Chemical Contents
  • Benefits of Ashwagandha
  • Side Effects
  • Synergy
  • Quality and Dosage

Ashwagandha Berries

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Introduction

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a plant that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for several thousands of years for a number of purposes. Ashwagandha means "the smell of a horse". It does have such a strong taste and it is said that it should give the strength of a horse to the consumer.

Facts about Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is a bushy plant with egg-like leaves. It can grow from 1 to 1,5 meters. The berry has a red color and in the berry, there is a yellow seed. It grows in wide parts of Africa, India and even China. The root and the berry are used to make the final product. Ashwagandha has a high reputation and is a very important herb in Ayurvedic medicine. In India, stressed managers often take Ashwagandha instead of Valium. It has the nickname "Indian Ginseng" as it has similar properties and is an adaptogenic herb. It does not have any direct relationship to it, though, and both work differently on a chemical level.

Chemical Contents

There are many chemical elements and molecules in it, which is the reason why it can be used for many different reasons. Some of them are:

  • iron (it contains a lot of it)

  • glyconithanaloids (antioxidants)

  • tannins

  • glucose

  • potassium

  • nitrate

  • alkaloids

  • fatty acids

  • steroid alkaloids (an active part of the herb)

  • flavonoids

  • lactones

  • acyl steryl

  • glucosides

and many other substances.

Benefits of Ashwagandha

Since Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb, it adapts to the needs of the body. It does not attack an illnesses directly. It enhances the immune system of the body, regulates processes such as blood pressure and also balances body and mind. Thus, it enhances everything in general and you become more resistent against illnesses and you can fight them better.

Nowadays, many experiments are being conducted.

Experiments have shown that it is able to protect your brain cells (flavonoids are known to protect brain cells. Herbs such as Ginkgo Biloba contain a lot of it and their primary use in Western medicine is in fact brain and memory protection).

Also, experiments have confirmed that it is very effective against stress. It works like a sedative. This is the reason, why it is recommended to take it in the evening.

Ashwagandha also has anti-aging properties. Extracts of it are sometimes used in anti-aging products. The chemicals destroy free radicals that are responsible for cell aging and body damaging. So, the body stays young longer.

People have reported that it increased their concentration, reduced fatigue and made them sleep better than usual after taking Ashwagandha regularly.

Ashwagandha is able to decrease cortisol. Cortisol is released in stressy situations and too much of it can be very dangerous to humans. It strengthens the immune system and is known to increase sexual energy. In Ayurvedic medicine, it is sometimes used as an aphrodisiac. It also works well against erectyle dysfunctions and in tantra, it is used to extend the erection.

It is also suggested that it has anti-cancer properties. Right now, there are several experiments being conducted who try to prove this assumption. It has already been proven that it is effective as a supplement against cancer.

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Side Effects

It does not have any side effects really and is very safe to take. If one takes too much of it, it can lead to diarrhea, vomitting and stomach problems. The use should be stopped two weeks before an operation.

Synergy

Ashwagandha can be combined with some herbs in order to increase certain effects.

  • Ginkgo Biloba: high increase in concentration and memory

  • Goji Berry: very strong anti-aging effect; better sleep and more energy

  • Rhodiola: strong nervous balance; increase in concentration and endurance

  • Ginseng: even more vitality; increased libido and stronger aphrodisiac effect; strong nervous balance

Happy Ashwagandha Root

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Quality & Dosage

Ashwagandha is a very sensible herb and can easily be polluted. That's why you should always buy purely organic Ashwagandha in order to make sure, there are no undesired chemicals in it.

The recommended dosage is 600 – 1000mg.

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Further Reading

Herbs and Herbal Remedies

Applications of Herbs

  • Herbs for anti-aging and youth
  • Herbs for better meditations
  • Herbs for Libido and erectyle dysfunctions
  • Herbs for more concentration and memory
  • Herbs for more energy and training

© 2014 Slaven Cvijetic

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