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What is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an ancient medicinal herb that has been used in India's Ayurvedic medicine system for over 3,000 years. The small shrub bears red berries and its extracts are commonly used to reduce stress, improve concentration, boost energy and enhance overall wellbeing.

The name 'ashwagandha' comes from the Sanskrit language. 'Ashwa' means horse and 'gandha' means smell, referring to the distinct horsey aroma of the herb's root. It's also sometimes called Indian ginseng or winter cherry.

How Does Ashwagandha Work?

Research has uncovered several ways ashwagandha supports health:

Hormone Regulation

Ashwagandha helps regulate key hormones like cortisol and stress hormones. This leads to positive flow-on effects for energy, stress resilience and mental clarity.

Brain Support

Compounds in ashwagandha called withanolides appear to regenerate brain cells and stimulate the growth of nerve cells. This can improve memory, cognitive function and reaction time.

Antioxidant Effects

Ashwagandha contains antioxidants that mop up damaging free radicals and lower oxidative stress linked to disease development. These include compounds like withaferin A and superoxide dismutase.

Anti-Inflammatory Action

The herb exhibits anti-inflammatory properties which can reduce systemic inflammation for conditions like arthritis or acne. Its anti-inflammatory powers may also support heart health.

Ashwagandha Benefits

With its wide-ranging effects throughout the body, ashwagandha supplementation has been connected to numerous health benefits:

Reduces Stress

Clinical studies using ashwagandha for stress have found major improvements. Scores on stress assessment scales decreased significantly compared to placebo groups not using ashwagandha.

Boosts Brain Health

Research suggests the ancient herb can boost memory, reaction time, attention and the ability to perform mental tasks. These brain-boosting powers may help with studies or work projects requiring focus.

Increases Stamina

Traditionally used for strength and stamina, modern research confirms ashwagandha can boost endurance and cardio capacity alongside muscle strength and recovery. This helps both athletes and regular gym-goers.

Balances Hormones

The herb's ability to regulate major hormones like cortisol and testosterone may also reduce symptoms linked to hormone imbalances like fatigue, low libido and thyroid issues.

Supports Immunity

With antimicrobial properties and effects on immune cell activity, supplementing with ashwagandha may fend off coughs, colds, flu and other seasonal bugs.

Eases Anxiety

By lowering cortisol and calming nervous system excitation, ashwagandha exhibits anti-anxiety activity in those with stress-related anxiety or generalised anxiety disorder.

Aids Sleep

Ashwagandha has traditionally been used as a sleep aid in Ayurvedic medicine. Studies confirm it can reduce sleep onset latency, increase total sleep time and improve sleep quality.

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