Western medicine, in general, owes much to the ancient healing systems of the Far East. Coming straight from India, for example, is the system of traditional medicine called Ayurveda. The natural herb known as ashwagandha has been used for centuries as both a palliative and a source of effective treatment for a wide range of ailments.
In particular, ashwagandha can treat insomnia, rheumatoid arthritis, and joint inflammation, among other things. Some research findings show that anything that soothes stress lowers cortisol (stress hormone) levels which in turn optimizes blood sugar control.
Due to the promise ashwagandha has shown in clinical trials, there are more plans so we can get a better idea of the full extent of ashwagandha’s long-term benefits.
First, let’s define the basics of ashwagandha. It is scientifically known as Withania somnifera and belongs to a family of plants called adaptogens. This class of plants is often ground into powders, tinctures and teas due to their valuable health benefits.
More colloquially, ashwagandha is also called Indian ginseng or winter cherry. This is mainly because the berries that spring from the roots of the urban have long been used in Ayurvedic medical practices.
Top 7 Health Benefits of Ashwagandha
Although ashwagandha has been fairly well studied so far, there is still a wealth of information to be gleaned about this ancient medicinal herb. Today, there is no doubt that it is effective against a multitude of medical conditions. In the rest of this article, we’ll discuss seven of the top health benefits of ashwagandha.
1. Ashwagandha Confers Fat Loss and Blood Sugar Benefits
There have been a handful of medical research studies showing that ashwagandha helps lower blood sugar – which is especially effective for diabetics. Moreover, the medicinal herb also reduces the concentration of triglycerides in the blood; it does this so effectively that it is comparable to currently available type 2 diabetes medications.
2. Ashwagandha and heart health
There have been studies of athletic adults who exercised regularly. The results are very promising: a few studies have proven that ashwagandha improves the amount of oxygen you have during intense physical exercise. Specifically, the herb can increase peak VO2 levels, which are used to assess cardiorespiratory endurance. Basically, it’s a measure of how efficiently your heart and lungs deliver oxygen to your muscles during sustained physical exertion.
While these results are indeed promising, they need to be investigated further by involving a more diverse range of participants – including those who may not be as healthy when given ashwagandha in the trial.
3. Ashwagandha relieves anxiety/stress
Of all the studies done on ashwagandha, the thing it is best known for is its ability to reduce stress and anxiety. In fact, medical research trials show this ability to be quite spectacular.
Another study showed ashwagandha’s ability to improve your sleep quality – in fact, it has a starting ability to reduce chronic insomnia. Participants received ashwagandha and another group of participants received a placebo; those who took ashwagandha experienced significantly better sleep quality.
4. Ashwagandha is a non-stimulant that elevates concentration and improves memory
There have been a number of studies on the cognitive effects that ashwagandha may have. One in particular has shown that the herb can lengthen the attention span of various research study participants. In fact, it went beyond that: they found that general and immediate memory improved when tested multiple times.
Additionally, ashwagandha enhances the brain-body connection; study participants were able to use memory and cognition to perform motor functions. Some of the improvements came in the form of shortened reaction times in physical activities after the instruction was given. A battery of psychomotor tests also showed the same improvements.
5. Attributes of Sexual Function: Ashwagandha on Men
As one of the most promising attributes of ashwagandha, a study has been done that strongly suggests that it can aid in male reproductive success. Specifically, men with extremely low or no fertility levels were given a trial of ashwagandha; by positively affecting their hormone levels, their sperm quality improved dramatically. In fact, after the conclusion of one of the studies, 14% of male participants were able to impregnate his female partner – prior to the study, they had effectively fired blanks.
Not only does ashwagandha increase fertility, it also apparently increases testosterone levels in men. The particular study from which these results were derived was actually related to stress; both male and female participants were included. Ashwagandha did not, however, increase testosterone levels in female participants.
6. Attributes of Sexual Function: Ashwagandha on Women
There have been a few clinical studies involving ashwagandha and women with a range of sexual problems. Specifically, ashwagandha was able to induce dramatic improvements in study participants’ ability to embrace lubrication, arousal, orgasm, and overall sexual satisfaction after taking some of the herb. There is one caveat though: these improvements were self-reported by the woman in the clinical study.
7. Improvements in strength and muscle mass
Finally, we come to one of the health benefits that has launched ashwagandha supplements onto the shelves of nutrition stores around the world. There are numerous studies that show that ashwagandha undoubtedly improves both muscle size and overall strength; in fact, there’s even one particular study showing that it can improve speed and reduce your body fat percentage. When you combine these with ashwag and its ability to lower your cholesterol levels as well, there is no doubt that it is poised to take over the supplement industry in the years to come.
One study involved only men; they were separated into two groups – one of which received a placebo and the other a dose of ashwagandha. This latter group showed significant gains in strength and mass in the pectoral quadriceps region after an eight-week study in which they regularly visited the gym. It turns out that ancient medicines also help with recovery after training.
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