Ashwagandha is a medicinal herb that has been used to manage stress and improve cognitive function for thousands of years. It’s one of the most important herbs in Ayurvedic medicinal philosophy (the holistic science of life). Ashwagandha originated in India, and though it’s real name is Withania somnifera, it is known commonly as ashwagandha, poison gooseberry, winter cherry, and Indian ginseng, even though it has no relation to ginseng.
Ashwagandha is a part of the nightshade family. It grows as a shrub with small yellow flowers that produce small red fruit. It is considered an adaptogen and is believed to rejuvenate the entire body.
What is an adaptogen?
Adaptogens are herbs that help the body resist physical, mental, and biological stressors. Each type of adaptogen works differently, but they all help the body manage its response to various stressors and conserve energy.
Benefits of Ashwagandha
Helps manage stress
Ashwagandha is best known for its stress management properties. It reduces the amount of cortisol, more popularly known as the stress hormone, in our bodies.
Acts as a sleep aid
For centuries, Ashwagandha has been used as a sleep remedy. The herb contains trimethylene glycol, which has been known to promote sleep. Its effectiveness at reducing stress and anxiety may also contribute to this effect.
Studies have shown that ashwagandha boosts immune response and decreases inflammation, keeping you healthier during cold and flu season.
Improves cognitive and brain function
Alzheimer’s disease does not have a cure, but there are measures that can be taken to improve your cognitive function and lower your chances of memory loss. Ashwagandha’s success with improving cognitive function has been confirmed by the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation.
Boosts testosterone and fertility in men
Ashwagandha might increase sperm quality as well as testosterone. If you are a man struggling with infertility, ashwagandha could very well give you the help you need.
Helps lower blood sugar
Studies support ashwagandha as a holistic way of lowering blood sugar levels. Do not take ashwagandha if you suffer from diabetes, as it could interfere with other medications.
Pregnant women should not take ashwagandha as it has been shown to induce premature labor or miscarriages. If you are pregnant or may become pregnant, consult your doctor before adding any new supplements to your routine.
Do not take ashwagandha if you suffer from an autoimmune disease. Not enough is known about the herb’s interactivity with other medications.
Other rare side effects could include headaches, sleepiness, and stomach issues. If you experience these symptoms, consult your doctor about dosage.