Ashwagandha derives its name from the Sanskrit words ‘ashwa’ which means ‘horse’ and ‘gandha’ which means ‘smell’, and collectively symbolises the energy and vitality of a horse. Ayurvedic experts believe that ashwagandha is rich in biologically active substances as it is composed of both macro and micro-elements, amino acids, peptides, lipids, and the bases of nucleic acids.
The root of the ashwagandha plant is said to have therapeutic benefits and has a calming effect on the nervous system. This is why it is considered helpful in the treatment of depression, anxiety, fatigue, stress-induced insomnia, and nervous exhaustion.
Its botanical name is withania somnifera, and it is also known by several other names including Indian ginseng and winter cherry. The ashwagandha plant is a small shrub with yellow flowers that is native to India and North Africa. Extracts or powder from the plant’s root or leaves is used to treat a variety of conditions. A study in the Indian Journal of Medical Research considered the herb to have potential to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Moreover, a study published in The Indian Journal of Pharmacology journal stated, “A clinical trial in patients of non insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus with hypercholesterolemia reported a decrease in blood glucose with WS being comparable to that of an oral hypoglycemic.”
Here are some other health benefits:
Reduces blood sugar levels
Ashwagandha helps in increasing insulin secretion and improves insulin sensitivity in muscle cells, thus being extremely beneficial for diabetics. According to a study titled ‘India Fit Report 2019’ published by GOQii, a leading preventive healthcare company, diabetes has increased by 40 per cent from 2017 to 2018 among people aged below 45 years.
Reduces stress hormone
Cortisol is known as a stress hormone because your adrenal glands release it in response to stress, as well as when your blood sugar levels get too low. Consuming ashwagandha helps reduce the production of this hormone in the body. A study published in the journal Phytomedicine showed that the herb had the ability to reduce anxiety levels.
Ashwagandha enhances the endocrine system and thus helps regulate the thyroid and adrenal glands. These glands are responsible for maintaining the balance of reproductive hormones and hence play a very important role in the treatment of female infertility.
Ashwagandha is also very rich in iron. People suffering from iron-deficient anaemia can consume it regularly for better results along with the doctor’s prescribed medicine and a balanced diet.
In addition to its anti-inflammatory effects, ashwagandha may also help improve heart health by reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels. A study published in the International Journal of Ayurveda Research found that using the herb for heart health (in combination with another Ayurvedic herb) was helpful in improving muscle strength and endurance.
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