Top Videos and Slideshows

What Is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha, one of the most powerful herbs in Ayurvedic healing, has been used since ancient times for a variety of different conditions. It is most well-known for its restorative and rejuvenating benefits. Traditionally, ashwagandha has been prescribed as a nerve tonic and adaptogen—an agent which helps the body adapt to various emotional and physical stressors. It has been used in India for nearly 5,000 years for conditions such as failure to thrive in children, weakness and debility in old age, rheumatism, constipation, nervous conditions, stress, joint inflammation, hormone balance, and much more. A paste made from the root powder applied topically can treat boils, ulcers, and other skin infections. Ashwagandha is known to help people strengthen their immune system after illness, chemotherapy, or surgery. It is a highly effective, evidence-based remedy for anxiety and stress. Here are the most important benefits of ashwagandha that are supported by science and recent research.

1. Improves Thyroid Function

One of the most incredible aspects of ashwagandha is that they can help people with both under-active and overactive thyroid problems. Ashwagandha has been shown to improve the health of those with an overactive thyroid, or Grave’s disease, although the research on the herb’s effects on hyperthyroidism is limited. For many people who are struggling with thyroid problems, ashwagandha may serve as the solution they’ve been waiting for.

2. It Can Reduce Blood Sugar Levels

In several studies, ashwagandha has been shown to significantly lower blood sugar levels. A test-tube study found that it increased insulin secretion and improved insulin sensitivity in muscle cells. Also, several studies have confirmed its ability to reduce blood sugar levels in both healthy people and those with diabetes. In one study in people with schizophrenia, those treated with ashwagandha for 4 weeks had an average reduction in fasting blood sugar levels of 13.5 mg/dL, compared to a 4.5 mg/dL reduction in those who received a placebo. What's more, in a small study of 6 people with type 2 diabetes, supplementing with ashwagandha for 30 days significantly lowered fasting blood sugar levels.

3. Controls Cholesterol Levels

Ashwagandha, with its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, is very good for cardiovascular problems. It strengthens the heart muscles and can also control cholesterol. A recent study indicated that it possesses hypolipidemic properties that help in bringing down blood cholesterol levels.

4. It Has Anti-Cancer Properties

Animal and test-tube studies have found that ashwagandha helps induce the apoptosis or "programmed cell death" of cancer cells. It also improves the growth of new cancer cells in several ways. One of these ways is believed to be the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are toxic to cancer cells but not normal cells. Another mechanism causes cancer cells to become less resistant to apoptosis. It may also be beneficial for treating several types of cancer, including breast, lung, colon, brain and ovarian cancer.

5. Reduces Anxiety and Stress

Ashwagandha helps in reducing anxiety. In India, Ashwagandha has been traditionally used in Ayurveda to improve both physical and mental health. One study supported the benefits of Ashwagandha in relation to anxiety and depression. Our modern lifestyle results in an increase in stress which most of us are unable to tackle. Ashwagandha is believed to possess anti-stress properties. Traditionally, it had been administered to induce a soothing and calming effect on a person. The active ingredient responsible for this activity is still unknown, but various anti-stress properties have been observed in research experiments.

Ashwagandha is a traditional medicinal herb with multiple health benefits. It can reduce anxiety and stress, help fight depression, boost fertility and testosterone in men, and may even boost brain function. Supplementing with ashwagandha may be an effective way to improve your health and quality of life.