Ashwagandha: the new turmeric?

25 February 2018  |  Admin

Turmeric has proven to be extremely popular these past few years, but interest in ashwagandha has been slowly building. So, what exactly is ashwagandha and how can it help you? 

Ashwagandha root

Ashwagandha is a medicinal herb traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine. Its botanical name is Withania Somnifera, and it's known by several other names, including Indian ginseng and winter cherry. The Ashwagandha plant is a small shrub with yellow flowers native to India and North Africa. Extracts or powder from the plant's root can be used to treat a variety of conditions.

Ashwagandha the Adaptogen:

Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, which means it can help with stress, anxiety and the pressures of modern life. In fact, Ashwagandha is Sanskrit for "smell of the horse," which refers to both its unique smell and ability to increase strength. In Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha is considered a Rasayana - meaning it can maintain youth, both mentally and physically.

Similarly to turmeric, Ashwagandha has a range of health benefits supported by an increasing amount of scientific research.

Top 10 Health Benefits of Ashwagandha

1. Fights stress and anxiety:

In a study of 64 people with chronic stress, those in the Ashwagandha group reported a 69% average reduction in anxiety and insomnia, compared to 11% in the placebo group (1). A study completed in 2009 and published in 'PLOS ONE' showed that ashwagandha was comparable to anxiety pharmaceutical drugs lorazepam and imipramine, but without the side effects.

2. Reduces cortisol levels:

Cortisol is known as a "stress hormone" because your adrenal glands release it in response to stress when your blood sugar levels get too low. A study has shown that ashwagandha may help to reduce cortisol levels. (2)

3. Helps with depression:

A study from India's Bankura Sammilani Medical College found that Ashwagandha may treat depression and improve mental health. (3)

4. Boosts immunity:

A study from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research Center found that ashwagandha significantly stimulates the immune system. (4)

5. Anti-inflammatory:

Like turmeric, there is evidence Ashwagandha can decrease inflammation. A study from South Korea's Kyungpook National University found that ashwagandha reduces inflammation and cell adhesion molecules among blood vessels. (5)

6. Fights type 2 diabetes:

One study featured six participants who all suffered from type 2 diabetes. They were supplemented with Ashwagandha over a 30 day period and their blood sugar was measured. It was found that their fasting blood levels lowered as effectively as oral diabetes medication. (6)

7. Stimulates the thyroid gland:

A study found that ashwagandha may be beneficial for normalizing thyroid levels in patients with hypothyroidism. (7)

8. Helps Alzheimer's and strengthens the brain: 

Jamia Hamdard University researchers found that Ashwagandha reduces oxidative damage related to brain cell damage - making it useful for reducing the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's. (8)

9. Improves memory:

Research from the Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences has shown that Ashwagandha supported memory and helps prevent nerve cell degeneration. (9) 

10. Controls cholesterol levels: 

A study at the University of Arizona indicated that ashwagandha possesses hypolipidemic properties that help in bringing down blood cholesterol levels. (10)

There are roughly around 200 studies on ashwagandha, which prove its medicinal properties are not just anecdotal. 

Ground Ashwagandha and other adaptogens. 

How Do You Consume Ashwagandha? 

Ashwagandha is normally taken in powder form or in capsules. Ashwagandha is a natural product, but care should always be taken when adding herbs to your diet and healthcare routine. Adaptogens work best when combined with a balanced diet and an anti-stress lifestyle that includes lots of rest and relaxation. 

The New Turmeric? 

As more and more people look for natural ways to overcome illness, only time will tell whether Ashwagandha becomes as popular as turmeric. What does seem to be clear is it can have a very positive impact on your health and is a worthwhile addition to your healthcare routine.

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