Ashwagandha: what are the benefits of this medicinal plant?

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L’ashwagandha ou Withania somnifera is considered one of the most powerful herbs in Ayurveda, traditional Indian medicine which is also the oldest health system in the world still practiced today. This plant native to India is more commonly called “winter cherry” or “Indian ginseng” because its medicinal properties are similar to that of ginseng. The word “ashwagandha” in Sanskrit is a combination of “ashva”, which translates to “horse”, and “gandha”, which means “smell”. The name of this plant is no coincidence since the smell of its root recalls the smells given off by horses.

Ashwagandha has been used for millennia as a “rasayana”. This term refers to a herbal or mineral preparation that promotes physical and mental health, explains on its website the American National Institute for Molecular Biological Information (NCBI). “These types of remedies are given to young children as tonics, and are also used by the elderly to increase longevity. Among the Ayurvedic Rasayana herbs, ashwagandha holds the most prominent place.”, adds the American center.

This Indian herbal medicine from the Solanaceae family, just like tomato or eggplant, is usually available as churna. It is a mixture of powdered herbs and minerals used in Ayurvedic medicine, which can be combined with water, ghee (a “clarified” butter) or honey. Ashwagandha is rich in iron, antioxidants, glucose, fatty acids, and potassium.

What are the benefits of ashwagandha?

Aschwagandha is an adaptogenic plant. It thus adapts to the real needs of the organism without causing harmful, excessive or aggressive effects. Many scientific studies have been carried out on this plant to determine its benefits. According to the NCBI, extensive studies have shown the herb to be effective in increasing stamina and preventing stress-induced gastric ulcer. Its content in sitoindosides and acylsterylglucosides, anti-stress agents, helps strengthen the body’s resistance to anxiety.

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“The anti-stress properties of ashwagandha have been studied in several studies on adult rats. Researchers performed stress and endurance tests while swimming. Rodents treated with ashwagandha continued to swim for about 740 minutes while the control group swam for 385 minutes. The swimming time thus practically doubled after treatment with ashwagandha “, develops the institute on its site.

Another benefit of “Indian ginseng”: it promotes sleep. Thanks to its L-tryptophan content, no more nocturnal awakenings and insomnia. Aschwagandha also regulates hormone production, the nervous system and sleep / wake cycles. This plant would also have aphrodisiac effects. It would increase blood flow to the genitals and stimulate desire. A study published on NCBI in 2009 found that treatment with ashwagandha improved sperm quality in men with fertility problems and increased their testosterone levels.

Its benefits do not end there: “research and studies on the efficacy of ashwagandha in inhibiting and reducing tumor growth have shown that this herb may prove to be extremely effective in the treatment of tumor-like diseases, including cancer “, details the NCBI. The plant is said to improve the number of white blood cells and their function, which are depleted during chemotherapy. In the treatment of uterine fibroids, ashwagandha has also been shown to reduce the tendency for uterine bleeding.

This plant is also known for its anti-inflammatory effect. It would reduce inflammatory pain and fight against joint diseases, such as rheumatism. Rich in antioxidants, it protects lipids against stress-induced oxidation and helps slow cell aging. That is why it is often presented as a plant of longevity and youth.

How to use ashwagandha?

The dosage depends on the ashwagandha product chosen and the people who consume it. In high doses, the plant can generate a hypnotic effect. The ideal is therefore to use it gradually. It is thus necessary initially to begin a cure with reduced doses then to increase them over time, if no side effect occurs. If signs related to the plant appear, it is advisable to reduce the doses, or even to stop its consumption.

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Aschwagandha is often available in powder form. It can thus be incorporated into a juice, a compote, a dessert or a smoothie, a yogurt. But be careful, do not exceed the daily dose of five grams per day. This plant can also be found in dried roots. To benefit from its virtues, it is best to boil them in water to extract its main assets. This plant can also be consumed in the form of capsules. The dosage to be observed must always appear on the product packaging.

Ashwagandha: what are the contraindications of this plant?

This plant is not recommended, in case of:

  • Pregnancy
  • Intestinal disorders
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Hemochromatosis

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