Ashwagandha is a powerful herb that has been used for centuries in India. The Indian people believe it to be the "elixir of life" and, as research shows, they might just be right. Ashwagandha is known for its ability to balance hormones, increase strength and energy levels, improve cognitive functions such as memory and focus, reduce inflammation throughout the body including brain tissue, fight off stress related illnesses like anxiety and depression by reducing cortisol levels which cause these symptoms - all while protecting the immune system from being overworked or weakened.
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Ashwagandha roots have been used in traditional Indian medicine for centuries to cure a multitude of ailments. In recent years, it has become famous as one of the most effective natural stress busters . Considered as an adaptogen , Ashwagandha is a unique herbal remedy that helps to combat stress by normalizing various systems of the body. It has been successfully used in the treatment of arthritis , heart disease and other major health issues too. The roots of Ashwagandha a re not only good for overall health, but they also have brain-boosting benefits . The roots of ashwagandha contain a group of steroidal lactones referred to as withanolides . These naturally occurring substances mimic the action of an important neurotransmitter known as GABA or gamma aminobutyric acid, which is involved in mediating communications between the nervous system and brain. GABA is also an inhibitory neurotransmitter that counters the stimulating effect of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate .
Ashwagandha reduces stress and anxiety , thereby improving mental clarity. It is a powerful memory booster too. The chemicals present in ashwagandha promote neuron health by reducing free radical levels in the brain, thus preventing neuron damage. The roots of ashwagandha are rich in various minerals like calcium, manganese and zinc . These minerals calm the nervous system and help to make you feel relaxed.
Withania somnifera , popularly known as Ashwagandha is a traditional Indian medicinal herb that has been used for centuries as a nerve tonic and anti-inflammatory agent . Recent studies have also indicated that extracts of this plant possess potent antidepressant and anxiolytic properties, indicating its potential use in the treatment of psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety. Among the various bioactive constituents present in the extract, withanolide sulfoxide seems to be responsible for most of the pharmacological properties. Withanolide sulfoxide, the key constituent of ashwagandha is shown to effectively elevate brain GABA levels and produce significant antistress and antidepressant-like effects in experimental animals with nootropic potential . The present review covers the wide range of traditional as well as modern information about the different aspects of W. somnifera activity like its use in traditional medicine , phytochemistry, pharmacological effects and therapeutic uses along with the possible mechanisms of action.
Ashwagandha is shown to activate the immune system and also possesses anti-tumour properties . In recent years, there has been a phenomenal increase in interest among scientists and laypersons alike in discovering new information about traditional medicinal plants around the world which have been used traditionally for centuries in order to discover new therapeutic agents . Withania somnifera ( ashwagandha ) has come to occupy a unique position in this natural products research because it is one of the most sought after medicinal plants by people all over the world. Ashwagandha belongs to family Solanaceae which includes tomato , potato, tobacco etc. The root and especially the extract of this plant is claimed to possess anti-inflammatory , analgesic, antitussive , antispasmodic, adaptogenic ( nonspecific resistance against biological stress such as heat , cold , trauma etc.), anticancer , anxiolytic ( anxiety -reducing) effects. Traditionally, root extracts of the plant were applied locally to treat a variety of disorders and especially during olden days it was used as an aphrodisiac . It was also given to young boys and warriors before battle in order to give them extra strength and endurance. Withania somnifera is not only extensively used as an anti-inflammatory agent in rheumatic disorders, but also for its anti-stress and adaptogenic properties . The purpose of this review is to provide an update about the biological effects of Withania somnifera in order to evaluate its therapeutic potential.
The roots of ashwagandha contain a group of steroidal lactones referred to as withanolides. More than 100 withanolides and counting have been isolated from ashwagandha . The roots also contain amino acids , alkaloids, sugars , and choline among other things.
The researchers identified a steroid compound known as withanone as the "active" component of ashwagandha that promotes relaxation without sedation . A pharmacological study of the ashwagandha extract revealed that it acts as a mild sedative and also possesses anti-anxiety properties , which may help to explain why some traditional Indian medicinal practitioners have prescribed it to treat insomnia. A recent animal study from 2011 has demonstrated the effectiveness of Withania somnifera in reversing stress-induced behavioral and physiological changes . The researchers observed that withania extract exhibits potent antistress activity mediated through the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis. They also demonstrated that chronic administration of withania extract significantly reversed chronic stress-induced suppression of sexual performance in male rats, suggesting its usefulness for ameliorating the adverse effects of stress on sexual health . Withania somnifera is described as an adaptogenic herb that is useful for preventing anxiety and stress-induced immunosuppression . An experiment conducted on mice suggests that Withania somnifera ( ashwagandha ) may be beneficial in the treatment of arthritis by inhibiting inflammatory pathways . The root extract of Withania somnifera ( ashwagandha ) has been investigated for its anti-inflammatory effects in patients with osteoarthritis . A randomized double -blind placebo-controlled pilot study examined the efficacy of ashwagandha root extract to treat osteoarthritis . The results suggest that an oral regimen of Withania somnifera root extract effectively reduces disease activity and degenerative changes due to osteoarthritis .
Recently a clinical study has shown that ashwagandha can be a safe treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). The results from this pilot study indicate that the herb Withania somnifera is an effective therapy in relieving both mental and physical fatigue as well as restoring the body's ability to perform daily activities . A randomized double-blind placebo controlled study conducted on 32 patients concluded that ashwagandha is effective in relieving psychological and physiological symptoms of stress. Compared with the placebo group , those receiving ashwagandha showed significant improvements in serum cortisol levels ( P < 0.01) as well as a trend to lower total cholesterol levels . Another study have revealed that chronic administration of ashwagandha significantly prevented the development of stress-induced ulcers in pyloric-ligated stressed rats, suggesting its usefulness for preventing peptic ulcer disease. Taken together, these results point toward a potential therapeutic role for Withania somnifera root extracts in the treatment of ulcers.
A randomized controlled trial found that ashwagandha improved muscle strength and body composition in men with functional erectile dysfunction . Another study has also shown that Withania somnifera (ashwagandha), when given along with standard therapy, was effective in improving sexual behavior.