Popularly known as winter cherry, ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a widely used herb due to its numerous medicinal and restorative properties. Even though it is botanically unrelated to ginseng, ashwagandha is frequently referred to as ‘Indian ginseng’ because of its rejuvenating effects.
In Sanskrit, ashwagandha means ‘the smell of a horse’, as the fresh roots of the plant smell like a horse’s urine or perhaps because it was thought to impart the sexual stamina of a horse.
1) Relieves Menopausal Symptoms
Ashwagandha stimulates the endocrine glands (glands that secrete hormones directly into the bloodstream) and help regulate the secretion of hormones. A study done with 51 menopausal women showed that when ashwagandha was given to them, a significant reduction in symptoms such as hot flashes, mood fluctuations and anxiety was seen.
2) Protects The Brain
Animal studies show that ashwagandha can reduce memory problems. Ashwagandha protects the brain from neurodegeneration (loss of neuron function) resulting from oxidative stress. The stress-relieving properties of the herb can improve long-term visual memory.[2,3]
3) Improves Female Fertility
Stress, hormonal imbalance, nutrient deficiencies and illnesses can cause infertility in females. Clinical studies show that ashwagandha improves the functioning of the thyroid gland that is responsible for regulating reproductive hormones. By promoting relaxation and decreasing stress, ashwagandha can balance the hormones, improving fertility.
4) Elevates The Mood
Women suffering from mood swings can see a drastic improvement after taking ashwagandha regularly. A study shows that ashwagandha relaxes the mind and decreases anxiety, thus stabilizing the mood in people with behavioral disturbances.
5) Has Anti-Aging Properties
The stress hormone cortisol can cause muscle loss, weakness, cognitive impairment and wrinkles. Research shows that ashwagandha improves resistance to stress by decreasing the production of cortisol. A study done in 64 individuals showed a significant decrease in cortisol levels and reduction in stress in individuals taking ashwagandha when compared with a placebo.
6) Boosts Your Libido
Individuals taking ashwagandha experience heightened sexual desire within three days of taking the herb. It improves blood circulation and stabilizes hormones that help improve sexual vigor.
How To Take It
- Ashwagandha can be taken as a fluid extract or supplement. Talk to a naturopath to determine the correct dosage for you.
- To make ashwagandha tea, pour boiling water on five ashwagandha leaves in a cup and let them infuse for 10 minutes. Have it every morning and evening. However, do not have more than two cups per day as a high dose of ashwagandha can lead to thyrotoxicosis (excess of thyroid hormone in the body).
- You can buy ashwagandha leaves here.
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