Ashwagandha: A Magical Ayurvedic Ingredient?
“Ashwagandha helps maintain hair health.”
“Ashwagandha is useful for managing stress.”
“Ashwagandha has a wide array of health benefits.”
If you have previously been acquainted with Ayurveda, you might as well have heard some similar statements about Ashwagandha. It is a shrub found in Asia and Africa and is considered to have various positive effects on human health.
However, before you start consuming it regularly, there are a number of things that you may need to know.
This detailed guide discusses Ashwagandha in detail, shedding light on “what is Ashwagandha,” Ashwagandha uses, benefits of Ashwagandha, dosage prescriptions, and some frequently asked questions relating to it. So, let’s get started.
Why Consider Ashwagandha?
With a world of medical options available in the present day, Ashwagandha may not be the first priority for many. However, we have a brief list of reasons explaining why one may want to consider using Ashwagandha for improving their health.
- Natural and safe alternative: Ashwagandha is one of the natural ingredients that is often believed to help manage various health concerns, including a healthy sleep cycle and healthy stress response.
- Health benefits: Speaking of health benefits, Ashwagandha can be considered as a boon for calming the brain, managing healthy blood pressure and helping strengthen the immune system.
- Availability and affordability: While the monetary price of a remedy may not matter against its benefits, Ashwagandha is still on the pocket-friendly side. You can buy 60 Ashwagandha capsules from Kerala Ayurveda for under $17.
- Efficacy: While no claims have yet been made around Ashwagandha’s overall efficacy, a survey conducted on 75 infertile men gave out impressive results.
A group of these people were treated with Ashwagandha, and that particular group showed an increased sperm count, after the treatment was over.
In addition to that, the treatment also seemed to boost the overall testosterone levels in the men that took the treatment.
This study gave evidence favoring Ashwagandha benefits for men.
And this is not all about the positive effects that Ashwagandha may have. In the next section, we discuss the most noteworthy benefits of Ashwagandha.
Benefits of Ashwagandha
Here are a few health concerns that Ashwagandha may be able to help with.
Ashwagandha is considered part of the supplement class called adaptogens.
The basic function of adaptogens is to lower the level of stress hormone cortisol inside the human body. As a result, these supplements can also eradicate a variety of harmful effects that stress may inflict on the human body.
In addition to this, Ashwagandha’s calming benefits may also enable it to encourage a normal sleep cycle.
Due to its adaptogenic properties and high withanolides content, Ashwagandha root or leaves may also be able to manage health concerns like inflammation.
Maintain Normal Blood Sugar Levels
Another potential health benefit of Ashwagandha is that it may help maintain normal blood sugar levels.
In fact, one test tube study could find evidence that its regular consumption could help increase insulin secretion, eventually enhancing its sensitivity in the muscle cells.
Apart from that, studies also show that Ashwagandha can help reduce blood sugar levels in people with and without diabetes.
May Help Manage Cancer
Cancer is a severe heart condition and we’ve all heard a lot about it. While chemotherapy is a modern day treatment for cancer, withaferin is a chemical found in Ashwagandha that can help induce apoptosis. (Apoptosis – death of cancer cells).
Apart from that, this chemical is also known for its abilities to retard the growth of cancer cells.
Various animal studies suggest that Ashwagandha may help treat different kinds of cancers including breast cancer, lung cancer, brain cancer, and cancer of the colon and ovaries as well.
For instance, in one such study, mice with ovarian tumors were treated with withaferin, along with an anti-cancer prescription drug. As a result, the cancer cell growth was lowered by 70-80%. Plus, the spread of the tumor to other organs was also prevented.
May Manage Symptoms of Depression
As mentioned earlier, Ashwagandha is believed to promote healthy stress response through its adaptogenic properties.
In a study involving 64 stressed adults, people taking 600 mg of concentrated Ashwagandha each day reported nearly a 79% decrease in stress levels and depression. On the other hand, the group consuming placebo only saw a 10% reduction.
Significant difference, right?
Help Maintain Reproductive Health in Men
As mentioned in a section above, a study showcased Ashwagandha’s potential for maintaining reproductive health in men.
Apart from these results, researchers also reported that the group consuming Ashwagandha had higher antioxidant content in their blood.
In addition to that, three months after the treatment, 14% of the men’s partners had conceived. Certainly, Ashwagandha does sound promising for boosting reproductive health in men.
Ashwagandha Uses – Recipes and Consumption
In the previous section, we discussed a number of health benefits that Ashwagandha has. However, we did not talk about how it can be used and consumed.
In this section, we’ll fill that void. Here’s a list of some delicious Ashwagandha recipes to help you add it to your daily diet.
Ashwagandha and Cardamom Tea with Milk
If you are fond of enjoying a cup of tea in the morning, this recipe may become your new favorite. Here’s the recipe to make it:
-Add ½ a cup milk to ½ cup of water
-Pour one tablespoon of Ashwagandha powder (5 grams)
-A dash of honey if you prefer sweet tea
As per your preference, you may also consider warming the tea or simply adding lukewarm water to it.
Banana Smoothie with Ashwagandha
Banana smoothies are delicious and nutritional. Whether you are fond of banana smoothies or not, one with Ashwagandha can have myriads of health benefits for you. So, you may want to take out your juicer, add milk (dairy or from alternate sources such as almonds, soy, nuts, etc), one banana, one spoon full of Ashwagandha powder, one teaspoon cinnamon powder, ½ a cup of nuts or seeds of your choice, along with a teaspoon of honey to taste.
Turn on the mixer and wait for 40-50 seconds. Your delicious and nutrient rich smoothie will be ready to serve
Turmeric Milk with Ashwagandha
Another delicious recipe involving Ashwagandha powder is Ashwagandha turmeric milk.
Turmeric, also known as Haldi, is a spice with impressive antioxidant properties. Plus, it may also help with pain relief, muscle soreness, inflammation, and other similar health concerns.
When consumed with milk and Ashwagandha, its benefits can be increased.
For this recipe, you can add a teaspoon of Turmeric in a glass of warm milk, and mix it down with another teaspoon of Ashwagandha powder. You can also consume Kerala Ayurveda’s Golden Milk Powder fortified with Ashwagandha.Just mix 2 spoons of Golden milk powder in 8 ounces of water/milk. Stir and gently heat the mixture. Pour into your cup, sweeten to taste, and just enjoy the healthy goodness of Ashwagandha!!
This is also one of the easiest and most convenient ways of consuming Ashwagandha for enjoying complete Ashwagandha powder benefits.
To enhance the benefits, you can also consider adding a teaspoon of virgin coconut oil.
Ashwagandha with Ghee
Ghee and Ashwagandha are two of the most popular Ayurvedic ingredients known for their wonderful benefits.
While ghee can help fulfill the daily protein requirements, along with helping calm anxieties and inducing better sleep, Ashwagandha may also have calming effects on the brain and mental health.
Consuming these two in the form of a mixture can be great for your mental health. Here’s a recipe to do that:
-Take a teaspoon or two of the Ashwagandhapowder in a vessel
-Add a teaspoon of ghee to it
-Add one or two dates to the mixture
-Pour ½ cup of milk and ½ cup of water
-Stir and mix it well before consuming
You can also store this mixture in your refrigerator.
Ashwagandha with Chocolate
While Ashwagandha is known for a variety of benefits, its taste may not be a personal favorite for many of us. However, as we still wish to reap its benefits, consuming it with a chocolate of our choice can make things more pleasant.
Take ½ cup Ashwagandha powder, add it to ½ cup maca powder, add one tablespoon of cocoa powder, ½ spoon of coconut butter, ½ cup ghee and some honey to your taste.
Now mix all these ingredients and pour them into a chocolate mould to freeze inside the freezer. Wait for a few hours, and your Ashwagandha chocolate will be ready to enjoy.
Have it as an evening snack or share it after lunch with your colleagues – the healthy snack may be packed with a range of vital nutrients.
Ashwagandha Dosage Guidelines
Before you start taking Ashwagandha to avail its potential health benefits, you must have an idea about the right dosage amount. In this section, we discuss appropriate Ashwagandha dosage based on your health state.
For Managing Stress and Anxiety
Regular consumption of Ashwagandha can help lower cortisol levels. You can consume 125 mg to 5 grams of Ashwagandha powder everyday for three months.
The above mentioned dosages have helped people reduce their cortisol levels by up to 32%. Additionally, 500-600 mg of Ashwagandha consumed daily for 6-12 weeks may help reduce anxiety and minimize the likelihood of insomnia.
For Lowering Blood Sugar Levels
As mentioned in the sections above, Ashwagandha may also help lower blood sugar levels by inducing an increase in the secretion of insulin.
If you are considering taking Ashwagandha for managing blood sugar levels, you can take anywhere between 250 mg to 3 grams of Ashwagandha each day.
Studies have also shown that regular consumption of Ashwagandha for a period of 30 days helped lower fasting blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
As studies have shown that Ashwagandha can help enhance fertility among men, it’s crucial to note the proper dosage for boosting fertility.
Consuming 5 grams of Ashwagandha in any form each day may help men increase their sperm count, boost fertility, lower stress levels and increase vigor and motility.
An effective way of consuming Ashwagandha for fertility is to have it with milk.
Increase Muscle Growth and Strength
Various studies have given evidence that using Ashwagandha as a supplement may also help gain muscle mass and boost strength. If this is your priority and goal to seek from Ashwagandha, the following dosage instructions may work well for you:
500 mg of Ashwagandha consumed everyday for eight weeks can help increase muscle strength by 1%, while placebo may not work at all. Another study concluded a 1.5-1.7 times increase in muscle strength and 1.6-2.3 times increase in muscle size among individuals that consumed 600 mg of Ashwagandha daily for eight weeks.
Reduce Inflammation and Help Fight Infection
Another benefit of Ashwagandha is that it may also help manage inflammation and avoid infections.
Also, regular consumption of 250-500 mg of Ashwagandha may also help reduce C-reactive protein (chemical that causes inflammation) levels by up to 30%. Clearly, there are a lot of answers to the question “what is Ashwagandha good for?”
For Strengthening Memory Power
A small eight-week study where individuals consumed 300 mg of Ashwagandha root extract twice every day could see an improvement in their memory power, attention span, and cognitive abilities. However, the positive effects on individuals receiving a placebo were nil.
Apart from that, regular consumption of Ashwagandha may also help improve reaction time and enhance reflexes. However, no claims can be made due to a lack of research.
FAQs Relating to Ashwagandha
Although, most of the questions that one may have regarding Ashwagandha have been answered in the sections above, a few of the frequently asked questions remain to be addressed. This section will answer them.
Can Ashwagandha Work Immediately?
Ashwagandha is a herb that consists of chemicals that may react with human biology to induce long term positive effects. However, its benefits don’t show immediately.
Regular consumption for at least 30 days may show you some results.
What are the Side Effects of Ashwagandha (if any)?
While Ashwagandha does not have any long term side effects, overconsumption may lead to diarrhea, vomiting and stomach upset.
Also, before you start consuming Ashwagandha for severe health concerns such as cancer, thyroid, ulcers, bleeding problems, etc., make sure to consult your doctor.
When should Ashwagandha be Avoided?
It’s crucial to be aware while consuming Ashwagandha, and it should be avoided in some instances. For example, if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or suffering from stomach ulcers, dealing with low blood pressure, autoimmune diseases, or thyroid, it’d be better to avoid consuming Ashwagandha.
If you still wish to reap its benefits, make sure not to consume it before consulting your doctor.
How Long Does Ashwagandha Take to Work?
Ashwagandha is a herb consisting of naturally occurring chemicals that may help induce positive health effects when consumed over a long time.
Optimally, Ashwagandha’s results may take anywhere between a month to two to show. So if you are looking for instant results, Ashwagandha may not be your best bet.
Ashwagandha is an essential Ayurvedic ingredient and is considered to have vital medical significance in the science of Ayurveda. However, more research regarding this area needs to be carried out before any solid claims can be put forward.
In this guide, we discussed Ashwagandha in detail. Hopefully, this was helpful.