Ashwagandha: Definition, History, and Benefits

Ashwagandha: Definition, History, and Benefits

Introducing a natural stress reliever that has taken the alternative space by storm.

Ashwagandha is an annual evergreen shrub in the nightshade family—grown in the Middle East, India, and certain parts of Africa.

It has an extensive history in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, a holistic practice that originated in India and has been used for thousands of years. The practice blends nutrition, physical activity, mindfulness, and herbs to promote good health and general well-being.

Today, more and more research is being conducted on the ashwagandha root, and it seems as though ashwagandha supplementation may be able to help treat a number of health conditions. From stress and anxiety relief to increased muscle strength, continue reading to learn more about the super-shrub.

What Is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is part of the class of plants known as adaptogens. Adaptogens mitigate stress and promote relaxation. These plants feature a number of health benefits when consumed as teas, tinctures, powders, or supplements.

Ashwagandha is seemingly no exception. The nontoxic herb is also called Indian ginseng, winter cherry, or, scientifically, by its Latin name Withania somnifera. The herbal shrub features roots and berries with deep medicinal properties. 

Generally safe and well-tolerated, there is a small chance ashwagandha will result in minor side effects like stomach upset, drowsiness, headache, or diarrhea. It’s best to consult your doctor before including it in your supplement regimen.

That said, ashwagandha could be the solution you’ve been waiting for—especially if you’ve been searching for a natural way to mitigate stress. Just make sure to select a high-quality, safe, clinically-backed supplement before moving forward. 

Benefits of Ashwagandha 

Ashwagandha has become more popular than ever in the U.S. in recent years. Recognized for its ability to help manage stress and anxiety, it has also been found to elevate energy, improve overall health, and lessen inflammation and reduce discomfort. And its potential health advantages don’t end there:

Ashwagandha for stress and anxiety relief

Ashwagandha is an effective way to bring a sense of calm into your life. It has been found to reduce levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, and even improve sleep quality. One study revealed that participants experienced much better sleep after taking the herbal supplement versus a placebo.

Ashwagandha for cardiovascular health

More good news—research shows that ashwagandha can elevate VO2 max levels, or the maximum amount of oxygen we can breathe in during physical exertion. This can help boost cardiovascular strength, deliver oxygen to the muscles more efficiently, and improve overall heart health.

Ashwagandha for memory and concentration

What if ashwagandha could strengthen a person’s memory, cognitive abilities, and motor skills? A series of smaller studies revealed it can likely do exactly that. One study in particular found that the popular herb substantially improved participants’ attention spans and memory.

Ashwagandha for sexual health in women

Women facing sexual health challenges might consider ashwagandha supplementation to strengthen their arousal, lubrication, and satisfaction. Some women even found that after taking ashwagandha, it was easier to achieve orgasm—and they became much happier about their sexual health in general.

Ashwagandha for reproductive health in men

Greater fertility and higher testosterone levels are just the beginning of the reproductive benefits ashwagandha supplements can bring men. In fact, one study found that administering the herb to men with fertility challenges improved sperm quality and resulted in 14% of their partners becoming pregnant.

Ashwagandha for lower blood sugar

Several clinical studies found that ashwagandha can help reduce blood glucose levels and harmful triglycerides, the most prevalent type of fat in the blood. An especially remarkable publication compared ashwagandha’s ability to lower blood sugar to that of certain diabetes medications.

Ashwagandha for increased muscle size and strength

Proper diet and exercise can help you build muscle. Recent research shows that ashwagandha can take this a step further by enhancing strength and increasing muscle size. One study indicated greater speed and strength as a result of ashwagandha, while another identified lower body fat overall.

While ashwagandha seems to feature a number of benefits, the majority of clinical trials have been completed on just a small number of participants. More research is needed to understand—and fully establish—the benefits of the plant, especially over a prolonged period of time.

Please note that ashwagandha may be unsafe if you are immunocompromised, preparing for surgery, or experiencing a thyroid condition. It may also be unsafe if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or allergic to nightshades or other grasses. 

Additionally, proceed with extreme caution before taking ashwagandha if you are on prescription medication. Always talk to your healthcare provider for more information on supplementation before starting a new product.

Explore Ashwagandha Supplementation Today

As we all know, these are stressful times. Experts suggest ashwagandha can help mitigate the anxiety so many of us face. The herbal supplement—combined with consistent exercise, a healthy diet, and sufficient sleep—can improve our stress response and help us thrive.

Just be sure to delve into your ashwagandha experience with plenty of knowledge and support. A reminder that before starting any new supplement, you should speak with a medical professional. Your healthcare provider can point you in the right direction, helping you navigate your options, explore different doses, and evaluate the potential risks involved in supplementation.

Do you have questions about ashwagandha? Balanced Health has answers.1 Our team offers a range of vegan-friendly, non-GMO supplements that are free from artificial flavors and ingredients. A unique blend of nutritious and delicious, we’ll be happy to guide you through your options. Please contact us for more information.

1 These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.

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