Anxiety and stress have become an all-too-common part of modern life, with people of all ages feeling the effects of these mental health issues. The hustle and bustle of everyday life can take its toll on our mental and physical health, leading to a range of negative consequences. These include poor sleep quality, decreased productivity, decreased immune function, and increased risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. While modern medicine has provided solutions to manage stress and anxiety, such as prescription medication, they often come with detrimental long-term effects, including addiction.
This has led many people to explore natural remedies for managing their mental health. One of the most popular options is the use of adaptogens, a group of herbs and mushrooms that help the body adapt to stress and promote overall health and wellbeing. Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera, is one such adaptogen that has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine to improve physical and mental health.
Ashwagandha is a small shrub that is native to India and Southeastern Asia. It has a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine as a general tonic and to treat a range of ailments, including stress, anxiety, and insomnia. Recently, there has been a growing interest in the Western world about the potential health benefits of ashwagandha, and numerous scientific studies have been conducted to evaluate its efficacy. In this article, we will explore 7 of the most compelling health benefits of ashwagandha that are backed by science.
- Reduces stress and anxiety
Ashwagandha has been found to reduce stress and anxiety levels in numerous human studies (Lopresti et al., 2019; Salve et al., 2019). This is because ashwagandha has anti-anxiety properties that help to lower and modulate cortisol, the stress hormone, and promote relaxation.
- Improves cognitive function
Ashwagandha has been shown to improve cognitive function, including memory, attention, and information processing speed (Choudhary et al., 2017; Raut et al., 2012). This is likely due to its ability to reduce stress and inflammation, which can impair cognitive function.
- Enhances physical performance
Ashwagandha has been found to improve physical performance in athletes and non-athletes alike (Kumar et al., 2018; Shenoy et al., 2012). It has been shown to increase endurance, strength, and muscle mass, and reduce exercise-induced muscle damage.
- Lowers inflammation
Ashwagandha has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer (Mirjalili et al., 2009; Singh et al., 2011). It has been shown to inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and increase the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines.
- Supports the immune system
Ashwagandha has been found to support the immune system by increasing the production of white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting off infections and diseases (Davis and Kuttan, 2000; Mishra et al., 2000). It has also been shown to have antibacterial and antiviral properties.
- Reduces insomnia and improves sleep quality
Ashwagandha has been found to improve sleep quality and reduce insomnia in several human studies (Langade et al., 2019; Raut et al., 2012). This is likely due to its ability to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety.
- Helps to regulate blood sugar levels
Ashwagandha has been found to have hypoglycemic properties, which can help to regulate blood sugar levels in people with diabetes (Andallu and Radhika, 2000; Udayakumar et al., 2008). It has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity and reduce fasting blood glucose levels.
Ashwagandha is a versatile herb that offers numerous potential health benefits. It can help to reduce stress and anxiety, improve cognitive function and physical performance, lower inflammation, support the immune system, improve sleep quality, and regulate blood sugar levels. While further research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms underlying its effects, ashwagandha is a safe and natural supplement that can be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle.
Overall, ashwagandha has shown promising results in various studies, indicating that it may be a valuable addition to an individual's wellness routine. While the research on the herb is still ongoing, the benefits discussed in this article cannot be ignored. Ashwagandha provides a safe and natural alternative to conventional medication, which often comes with adverse side effects. As more individuals seek holistic approaches to maintain their mental and physical well-being, ashwagandha continues to gain popularity as a natural supplement. Incorporating ashwagandha into your routine may be worth considering for its numerous potential health benefits.
Lopresti et al., 2019: https://doi.org/10.1097/md.0000000000017186
Salve et al., 2019: https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.6466
Choudhary et al., 2017: https://doi.org/10.4103/ijpvm.IJPVM_70_16
Raut et al., 2012: https://doi.org/10.4103/0973-7847.102496
Kumar et al., 2018: https://doi.org/10.4103/japtr.japtr_48_18
Shenoy et al., 2012: https://doi.org/10.4103/0976-9668.101906
Mirjalili et al., 2009: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phymed.2008.12.001
Singh et al., 2011: https://doi.org/10.1089/jmf.2010.1189
Davis and Kuttan, 2000: https://doi.org/10.1016/s0304-3835(99)00241-4
Mishra et al., 2000: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10956379/
Langade et al., 2019: https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.4249
Andallu and Radhika, 2000: https://doi.org/10.1016/s0944-7113(00)80043-3
Udayakumar et al., 2008: https://doi.org/10.1177/147323000803600204