Ashwagandha: Ultimate Guide on its Benefits, Uses, and Effects

Even though it may not be as popular as other medicinal herbs, ashwagandha is considered to be a very effective Ayurvedic herb. It originates in India and it’s mostly used for an immunity boost and stress relief.

The meaning of the word ashwagandha is “the smell of a horse”, and luckily it does not have that scent. It simply smells like most dried herbs and it got that name because ashwagandha offers the vigor and strength of a stallion to those that use it. 

Ashwagandha supplements are very widely available in stores and health food stores worldwide. One can even order them online. Many recommend this herb for a wide range of conditions, from general anxiety to cancer.

However, with so many Ashwagandha products to choose from, how does one decide what type to take? How much is enough? And how do you know if the dosage is the right one?

In this guide, you can read more about this ancient medicinal herb and understand what is ashwagandha, what are the benefits of using it as a supplement, and its possible side effects.

Table of Contents

What is Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha (Whitania somnifera), sometimes known through its pseudonym Indian ginseng, is a tall evergreen shrub with a reddish-brown glossy green leaf. It grows best in India, the Middle East, Central and South America, and some parts of Africa. To produce herbal medicine scientists use its berry and root.

This medicinal herb is classified as an adaptogen, which means that it can help your body with managing stress. Ashwagandha has been traditionally used for stress, to reduce fatigue, to improve memory, and as an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant.

For thousands of years, people have been using ashwagandha supplements. Its roots originate in India and its bark and leaves are also used in different parts of the world. Often people cultivate ashwagandha in other places because it can adapt to different climatic conditions.

It is also known as winter cherry and some studies conducted on animals show that ashwagandha supplements may improve athletic performance.

The ashwagandha got the pseudonym Indian ginseng due to its rejuvenating properties by boosting the human immune system. Another name for this herb is Rasayana which means pretty much the same – it helps you preserve your youth. This refers both to your body physically and also mentally.

ashwagandha benefits

It appears to be of benefit to those with arthritis, cancer, and other diseases of the body’s joints, tendons, or bones. However, there are very few studies on how it affects those special conditions in the body that benefit from herbs like ashwagandha.

What is Ashwagandha Used for

The summary ashwagandha guide lists several other properties of this herb. Ashwagandha contains a compound known as flavonoids. This plant compound has been found to have many health benefits. It is one of only a few herbs that contain this powerful antioxidant, called catechins. Antioxidants help to remove built-up toxins or pollutants from the body. Some research indicates that flavonoids and other compounds in the herb may reduce blood sugar levels.

For that reason, many people use ashwagandha to help them treat above all stress and anxiety. As this plant has neuroprotective effects it should be greatly beneficial for dealing with stress.

Next, people use ashwagandha for treating fatigue, pain, or even some skin conditions.

Due to the fact that ashwagandha has a role in reducing the level of sugar in the blood and cholesterol, this herb is largely used in treating diabetes.

Furthermore, many people use this ancient herb ashwagandha to help them treat epilepsy and arthritis.

Depending on the ailments that people are treating, they use different parts of this shrub. Some use their seeds, leaves, or fruit. Nowadays, this herb is available also as a supplement, so many people in the United States can purchase it in that form.

Health Benefits from Ashwagandha

After examining the ways that people use ashwagandha, it’s important to understand how much this herb really is beneficial or effective in treating these ailments.

There are a number of studies that report that the herb, ashwagandha root extract, can be useful for treating a variety of conditions. These include low-grade fever, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, depression, diabetes, liver problems, skin problems as well as menstrual problems.

Inflammation

There are many claims for its other uses, but until now there is no good solid scientific research to back up those other uses. Studies claim that ashwagandha influences positively on your well-being, it lowers cholesterol, and may reduce the risk of heart disease. It contains compounds that have been shown to reduce inflammation and may lower blood pressure. Ashwagandha may also reduce symptoms of asthma and rheumatism.

Reproductive Health

Ashwagandha helps men increase libido and improve reproductive health, as well as help, maintain testosterone levels. Testosterone is necessary for sperm quality and quantity. The herb is believed to help increase sperm count, sperm motility as well as quality, and the production of sperm. Testosterone plays an important role in maintaining the health of your erections and sperm production and also is responsible for the maintenance of muscle strength, sex drive, and strength during sexual intercourse.

Stress

In addition, stress can cause various health conditions that need to be treated. It will increase the possibility of experiencing a number of diseases and disorders, including some serious ones like diabetes, hypertension, atherosclerosis, heart disease, and stroke. If you think that you need some help to relieve your stress, you should consider using this powerful supplement.

what is ashwagandha

Anxiety and Panic Attack

Another interesting use of Ashwagandha supplements is to help those who are recovering from an anxiety or panic attack. This herb has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. And it’s still being used today in some herbal remedies. People who take Ashwagandha as a supplement often find that their symptoms go away faster when taking this herb rather than other anti-anxiety medications. This makes it an excellent choice for people who are trying to treat anxiety disorders.

Undoubtedly, ashwagandha has been used for thousands of years as a common herbal remedy. Ayurvedic physicians wrote about the benefits of this ancient medicinal herb in the past. Clinical trials conducted in the US and India revealed that Ashwagandha root extract was safe and effective for treating inflammation, fatigue, as well as improving libido.

Muscle Mass and Strength

The supplement was also found to improve muscle mass and strength which is why people often use it to help them treat arthritis. Some may even consider Ashwagandha for use in the treatment of male infertility, hormonal imbalance. As well as to treat a number of diseases and conditions.

Potential Side Effects

A number of potential side effects have been noted in early research shows concerning the use of ashwagandha root extract. Some individuals taking the herb have reported dizziness, difficulty walking, problems concentrating, diarrhea, and stomachache.

However, it’s important to point out that these side effects were most likely to occur when users took larger dosages of this herb. Also, individuals should realize that these are not complete side effects of taking ashwagandha; other side effects may occur as well. In some cases, individuals may experience no side effects at all.

Therefore, keep in mind that you should take only small to medium dosages of ashwagandha to prevent experiencing any side effects. In fact, taking a large amount of most herbs can result in certain side effects. So, you need to be cautious.

People who take Ashwagandha in high doses may cause an increase in blood sugar levels. If you think you have a problem with blood sugar, you should consult your healthcare provider before taking Ashwagandha. Even if you do not have a problem with blood sugar, you should still avoid taking this supplement if you are taking other medication. Some other drugs like beta-blockers and aspirin will also have serious side effects and Ashwagandha may cause them as well. You should always talk to your healthcare provider before you begin any supplement taking.

In addition, pregnant women should not take ashwagandha as this herb could potentially cause premature labor or distress for the fetus.

How to Take Ashwagandha

Dietary supplements are not only important for individuals who take medications for certain illnesses, but they also act as prevention measures in keeping our bodies healthy. The right dietary supplements can help you achieve your ideal weight, strong bones, and muscles, lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels, improve the function of the immune system, enhance sleep, improve mood and nourish the cells. It is therefore advisable for everyone to be familiar with the different dietary supplements and make sure that they do not lead to adverse side effects.

If you consider adding ashwagandha as a dietary supplement it’s important to know how to take it. First of all, it depends on what type of condition you are trying to treat or in other words, what is the purpose of taking ashwagandha.

ashwagandha supplements
Ashwagandha (Whitania somnifera) Veg herb capsules on round clay brown plate. Ayurvedic Adaptogen India, general tonic, Herbal Dietary supplements. Healthy lifestyle, immune system

In fact, there is no standard dosage that is recommended for users of ashwagandha. Therefore you should do your research here in terms of your health condition. Some studies suggest that the ideal dosage of ashwagandha as a dietary supplement is 250 do 600mg per day. 

To avoid any unwanted side effects you should stick to this dosage. 

Furthermore, ashwagandha can come in three different forms – capsules, liquid, or powder. Usually, capsules contain from 250mg to 1500mg of this herb so you need to have this in mind when opting for ashwagandha capsules. 

To derive the full benefits of this Ayurvedic medicine, it is recommended that the herb be taken at least one hour before meals. Its adaptogenic properties make it useful for those who want to control their stomach function. If the stomach is not digesting the food properly, it can lead to pain, burning, and digestive upsets. By helping the stomach to digest the food better, the extract can help regulate its contractions, which can minimize pain from this condition. It can also improve the absorption of nutrients from food, making it useful for weight loss.

Ashwagandha as a Dietary Supplement

Dietary supplements are designed to supplement the diet in providing essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other substances which are vital for our body to function properly. A dietary supplement is usually a manufactured product meant to supplement one’s dietary intake. It can be in the form of a pill, tablet, capsule, powder, or liquid supplement. A dietary supplement can offer nutrients both naturally extracted from the food we eat or that are artificially synthesized in order to boost the amount of our intake. Common dietary supplements include vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, herbal extracts, hormones, and neuro-nutrients.

Vitamins are one of the most important nutrients that the body needs. In fact, it needs a wide range of vitamins and minerals in order to perform at its best. However, sometimes it may not be possible to get enough of these nutrients from our regular diet. Under such circumstances, dietary supplements are very useful as they contain all the essential nutrients in appropriate quantities. For example, dietary supplements like vitamin C and B complex vitamins contain highly concentrated forms of these substances that are required in higher doses for therapeutic benefits. These vitamins are also available in lower concentrations for individual requirements.

Consider using a dietary supplement in conjunction with conventional therapies for optimum health. Similarly, herbal medicines should be combined with conventional drugs for better results. Many natural products are used in conjunction with health conditions for effective treatment.

There are three ways to make use of ashwagandha tea and other products.

You can use the herb as a tea, as a powder, or in a pill. There are products that combine the herb with other substances to increase its effects. Most of these products are herbal teas that are designed to be consumed hot or cold. There are also formulations that use all-natural ingredients, but use the ashwagandha tea in place of other herbs or nutritive substances. In the best formulations, ashwagandha powder is often mixed with rice bran and other similar nutrients.

dietary supplements

Where to Find Reliable Sources for Ashwagandha

It is always advisable to read the label when buying dietary supplements. The label says a lot about the purity of the medicine. The first thing that one must check is if the tablet contains all the active ingredients. The second thing to check is the concentration of each of the ingredients in the tablet. It is only after checking these two things that one can safely presume that the dietary supplement is pure.

One can make his own nutritional assessment by looking at the label of the tablets and determining if the tablet contains all the active ingredients. If one finds this difficult to do, then he can get help from an expert who specializes in nutrition. However, buying the supplements from a reputed health food store or a supermarket is the best option. These stores keep an inventory of the best quality tablets so that one can make his own assessment without having to rely on a third person. Buying from such sources is much more convenient than buying from a health food store.

It is important to buy dietary supplements from reliable sources. Some of the reliable suppliers offer a complete range of health and beauty products. Some retailers specialize in selling cosmetics and related products. Alternatively, you can consider contacting health care providers to identify good quality products. Many reputed health care providers offer free advice on dietary supplements and ensure that the consumer gets the right medicine.

Preparation of Ashwagandha Supplements

Ashwagandha supplements come in several forms, such as tablets and liquids. There are studies that indicate that the traditional Indian method of brewing large quantities of milk and then grinding it and heating it is one way that the herb is prepared for consumption. Many believe that this method creates a very strong Ashwagandha extract. Another way that you can prepare the herb for tablet and liquid treatments is to boil it in sandalwood powder. The heat of the mixture will cause the Ashwagandha extract to break down into a fine powder. You can take these tablets an hour before meals or as an alternative to breakfast on normal days. And as a supplement to an hour before sleep on weekends.

Because Ashwagandha is such a powerful adaptogenic medicine, many users find that taking it as a supplement helps them overcome certain mental challenges and improve their moods. For instance, when people feel stressed out, they need a strong dose of Ashwagandha to relieve their symptoms. The same thing goes for those who suffer from depression. This herb helps to boost the moods of those who take it. Thus making it good alternative medicine to treat both types of depression.

It’s no surprise that a lot of modern health stores sell Ashwagandha extracts in tablet form as well. Mainly because the herb is so well-known for its benefits in relieving stress and depression.

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