Herbal Supplements
Ashwagandha: Adaptogen and Overall Tonic

Ashwagandha root has been used in traditional Indian medicine (Ayurveda) for thousands of years. Known primarily as an ‘adaptogen’(an agent that improves the body’s natural ability to fight emotional and physical stress), research has also revealed the herb to be a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent; it also helps boost the immune system, improve mental functioning, and enhance libido.

“Winter Cherry” and “Indian Ginseng” are other names for ashwagandha (scientific name, Withania somnifera). It comes from a shrub that grows primarily in India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. The plant is in the Nightshade family and has yellow flowers with small red berries. The word ‘ashwagandha’ is Sanskrit for “horse's smell” because the root is said to have an odor similar to a horse when it sweats.

Tests with rats showed that ashwagandha root increases three natural antioxidants in the body, which in turn are thought responsible for the herb’s anti-stress, anti-inflammatory, and enhanced cognition effects – the herb is also a natural nootropic, a drug that enhances mental performance.

When ashwagandha was injected into the brains of rats it was shown to improve receptor activity; other research revealed that the herb stimulates axon and dendrite growth, fights depression, and boosts memory. Laboratory studies also showed it helps fight amnesia in geriatric patients.

In the Kama Sutra, the ancient Indian book by Vatsyayana on love and sex, ashwagandha is mentioned as an aphrodisiac. A bowl of ashwagandha roots were traditionally given to newlyweds as an aid to fertility and a healthy sex life, since the herb enhances libido and improves sexual experiences. The herb is now considered to be India’s most effective libido enhancing herb, known especially for its efficacy in women. It has also been shown to improve the production of nitric oxide in the body, which dilates blood vessels and improves sexual performance.

Lesser known and perhaps not so prominent benefits of ashwagandha are that it helps fight panic attacks, keeps mood swings in check, relieves depression along with mental and physical fatigue. Studies also indicate it has antitumor and overall rejuvenating properties for the body. Ashwagandha is thought to exert a beneficial influence over the cardiopulmonary, endocrine, and central nervous systems, although the method behind these actions is not entirely understood. The herb also contains a significant amount of diuretic and hypoglycemic agents, and helps in lowering cholesterol levels. In a biography of Alexander the Great, it was claimed that in ancient times ashwagandha was used in wine.

If ashwagandha is taken during the day, slight drowsiness may be noticeable among people who are naturally calm, but those with anxiety will notice only a relaxing effect.

No significant side effects are known for ashwagandha. But it is believed that breaks from use are beneficial. Taking a week off after one month of use is recommended, or taking the herb three to four times a week instead of every day is good.

Ashwagandha is also known by the names Kanaje Hindi, Ajagandha, and Samm Al Ferakh.

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Testimonials
Legend
2012-10-09 08:40:52
Absolutely fantastic article..thank you kindly from the bottom of the heart...but one thing.ashwagandha in sanskrit means ..grounded stallion...i got it from utube..
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More About Ashwaganda...

Ashwaganda Herb

The name of ashwaganda, one of the most universal herbs used for more than four thousand years and ...

Ashwagandha in Ayurvedic Medicine

The benefits of Ashwagandha have been known for centuries, and this herb served as a universal ...

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