Nature is full of magic, this article draws one such magical herb from the basket of nature— Ashwagandha. Withania somnifera, known commonly as ashwagandha, The species name somnifera means “sleep-inducing” in Latin. The name, ashwagandha, is a combination of the Sanskrit words ashva, meaning horse, and gandha, meaning smell, reflecting that the root has a strong horse-like odor. It is also known as Indian ginseng, poison gooseberry, or winter cherry, is a plant in the Solanaceae or nightshade family. Several other species in the genus Withania are morphologically similar.
Ashwagandha is grown in many of the drier regions of India. It is also found in Nepal, China and Yemen. It prefers dry stony soil with sun to partial shade. To propagate it can be grown from seed in the early spring, or from greenwood cuttings in the later spring. The plant, particularly its root powder, has been used for centuries in traditional Indian medicine. Mainly due to the poor quality of clinical research, there is no high-quality evidence that it provides any medicinal benefit and may cause adverse effects if taken.
Ashwagandha, an ancient medicinal herb is used in Ayurveda to cure various diseases and discomforts. Listed below are some benefits of Ashwagandha:
2. Managing Stress: Studies have shown that prescribed intake of Ashwagandha helps in bringing down the level of cortisol harmone released by adrenal glands.
3. Depression and anxiety: Ashwagandha is also known for its positive effects on people dealing with anxiety and depression.
4. Increasing testosterone level: In men Ashwagandha has shown a rise in testosterone level and increased sperm count.
5. Gaining weight: Ashwagandha root powder can be consumed by people facing weight loss issues. Studies have shown a clear effect within 30 days of intake. It helps gain muscle strength.
6. Fights infection: Increases the activity of immunity cells, that fight infection and keeps the body healthy.
7. Regulating cholesterol: In addition to fighting infections it improves heart health by reducing the cholesterol.
8. Improves cognitive ability: Ashwagandha is traditional used in making tonics and powders that help boosting memory.
9. For pain and injury : Traditionally, fresh leaves were used topically to heal joint pains and to reduce swelling.
10. For skin and Hair: Ashwagandha can help reduce acne and sore skin. It is used in shampoos, to help improve scalp circulation and strengthen the hair, as well as help get rid of dandruff. It also appears to stimulate production of melanin, the pigment responsible for the colour of your hair. So, it may actually reverse greying of hair. And if that wasn’t enough, it also helps deal with hair loss.
Ashwagandha is one of the basic ingredients in many traditional ayurvedic medicines( in powdered form or tonics) that help increase mental and physical strength. Ashwagandha can be consumed directly in powdered form of its roots. Alternatively, Ashwagandha can be consumed through products like chavanprash or through memory boosting tonics like Shankhapushpi. Ashwagandha is also used as spice and in tea masala.
Safety caution: Although thought to be useful as a medicinal herb in Ayurveda, there is no evidence it is safe or effective for treating any disease. It may cause mild drowsiness and sedation for some people.