Any plant with leaves, seeds, or flowers used for flavoring, food, perfume, or medicine, is referred to as an herb. Typically, herbs have aromatic or savory properties, as previously mentioned. Here Dr. Joseph Mercola, Mercola.com, reflects on the benefits of ashwagandha, not just another herb:
“Known as a multipurpose herb and “rejuvenator” used in ancient Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for thousands of years, ashwagandha1 (Withania somnifera) is a plant native to India with a host of bioactive functions.
Ashwagandha is a member of the Solanaceae family along with eggplant and tomato. It bears light green flowers that evolve to bright red fruit and is able to survive extreme temperatures and widely varying altitudes.2
Image courtesy of: Dinesh Valke
In Sanskrit, the word ashwagandha means “odor of a horse.” The likeness refers not only to the odor of the plant's root but the essence of strength it's said to deliver. It's a powerful adaptogenic3 herb, meaning it helps your body manage and adapt to stress4 by balancing your immune system,5 metabolism and hormonal systems.6
Ashwagandha also has natural pain reliever (analgesic) properties,7 can help increase physical strength, and its rejuvenating effects can promote general health when used regularly. While some adaptogens are stimulants in disguise, this is not the case with ashwagandha. It can give your morning exercise routine a boost, and when taken prior to bed it can help you get a good night's sleep as well.
The Main Bioactive Components in Ashwagandha
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Flavonoids and other compounds are the active ingredients that give ashwagandha its many powerful properties. In one study,8 bioactive withanolides — naturally occurring steroids — in ashwagandha were identified as agents that suppress pathways responsible for several inflammation-based illnesses, including arthritis, asthma, hypertension, osteoporosis9 and cancer.
Withanolides in ashwagandha also have immunomodulating properties,10 described as substances that can either stimulate or suppress your immune system to help fight infections, cancer and other diseases.
One of the alkaloids in ashwagandha, called somniferin, helps promote relaxation and sound sleep. In fact, the botanical name “somnifera” means the herb induces sleep. A study11 at the University of Tsukuba in Japan also found it relieves related problems such as insomnia and restless leg syndrome.
Ashwagandha Eases Stress and Anxiety
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As an adaptogen, ashwagandha is frequently used to support healthy adrenal function, which can be adversely affected by persistent stress, be it physical or psychological. Research shows the root reduces cortisol levels, restores insulin sensitivity and helps to stabilize mood.12
In one placebo-controlled clinical trial,13 volunteers with a history of chronic stress who took 300 milligrams (mg) of ashwagandha twice a day reported significant reductions in stress, and testing revealed their cortisol levels decreased by an average of nearly 28 percent after 60 days of supplementation.
Image courtesy of: Menage a Moi
In another study,14 patients diagnosed with moderate to severe anxiety who were treated with ashwagandha reported “significantly decreased” symptoms compared to those undergoing more conventional interventions.
A third study15 found “empirical evidence to support the traditional use of [ashwagandha] to aid in mental process engaging GABAergic signaling.” According to the authors:
“Our results provide evidence indicating that key constituents in [ashwagandha] may have an important role in the development of pharmacological treatments for neurological disorders associated with GABAergic signaling dysfunction such as general anxiety disorders, sleep disturbances, muscle spasms and seizures.”
Ashwagandha for Sexual Health and Fertility
Image courtesy of: Università Campus Bio-Medico di Roma
Ashwagandha also supports sexual and reproductive health in both men and women, and may be used as an aid to boost your libido. In men struggling with infertility, ashwagandha has been shown to balance their luteinizing hormone,16 which controls reproductive organ function in both men and women. Ashwagandha can also help boost testosterone levels in men,17,18 which can have a beneficial effect on libido and sexual performance.”
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Read More … Article Source: https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2019/02/18/ashwagandha-benefits.aspx
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