Ashwagandha is an Indian medicinal plant, represented by the botanical name Withania somnifera. Also known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry, the uses of this shrub in therapeutic applications are mentioned in Ayurvedic medicine. In the same traditional medicine, ashwagandha is grouped under rasayana herbs, meaning it is related to general vitality and body rejuvenation. Ashwagandha is touted as a natural remedy to boost mental and physical health of an individual.
What is Ashwagandha Extract?
This extract is derived from the plant, ashwagandha. Both the tablets and extract are used as dietary supplements. Although ashwagandha herb is directly used for curative purposes, one requires consumption of the plant parts in increased amounts to get prompt results. For ease in taking and storage, ashwagandha supplements are prepared from the roots that contain active components in high percentage. In the market, you will get 2 to 1 or 5 to 1 extract.
In order to get effective results, a consumer should take this extract in the dosage suggested by the herbalist. Recommended concentration varies in accordance with the strength of the extract. The higher the potency of extract, the more it contains withanolides and intake dose is low. As compared to ashwagandha powder, the prescribed dose for extract is lower. Safe concentration of ashwagandha extract ranges from ½ teaspoon to ¾ teaspoon, depending upon the potency of the product.
Ashwagandha Extract Benefits
Ashwagandha is used for combating a wide range of medical problems, ranging from mild fever to serious mental disorders. The medicinal benefits of ashwagandha extract are attributed to its active ingredients (withanolides and flavonoids). Basically withanolides are plant steroids, possessing antioxidant and regenerative properties. This extract gives immunostimulant and anti-inflammatory effects. For your reference, major benefits of ashwagandha are listed below.
- In conventional medicine, the herb and its extract have been used for addressing fever, inflammatory conditions and also, to minimize infections. It was considered a health tonic in traditional healing.
- The medicinal application of ashwagandha is mainly concentrated upon using it for rejuvenation. Taking this medicinal formulation is purported as an effectual way to increase longevity.
- A prime therapeutic application of this product is, it serves as an effectual adaptogen, and aids in boosting the body to cope up with stressful situations. For people having stress and anxiety, it acts as a mood stabilizer.
- When given in correct dose, it aids in regeneration of neural components. Thus, this herbal extract is suggested for restoring normal functioning of the nervous system and treating mental problems.
- Another application of this plant extract is treating nearly all kinds of arthritis. It is evident from the presence of antioxidants in large amounts and the herb's anti-inflammatory property.
- This herbal product is effective for alleviating health effects resulting from stress, such as restlessness, loss of concentration, poor memory, loss of appetite and sleep problems.
- Ashwagandha extract in association with healthy lifestyle habits work wonders in strengthening the immune system, in an otherwise physically debilitated person. It increases leukocyte production, and is effective for dealing with infections.
- The aphrodisiac property of ashwagandha herb makes it an excellent remedy to improve libido and sexual health. In the body, it increases production of nitric oxide, which in turn brings about dilation of blood vessels.
- According to some medical researchers, ashwagandha extract benefits in reducing the growth of some cancerous cells, especially that of breasts, lungs and colon. Further studies need to be done for confirming this claim.
Ashwagandha Extract Side Effects
The herbal products based on ashwagandha are considered safe for most people, if the intake dose is monitored properly. The probable side effects of ashwagandha are mild and temporary. Some people report drowsiness after taking this extract, while others complain of flatulence and stomach discomfort. Other adverse effects include experiencing warm body temperature, poor sleep and weight gain. To avoid severe effects, never ingest ashwagandha extract in conjunction with prescription sedatives.
Since this extract is shown to increase thyroid hormone secretion, ingesting it may cause complications for people with hyperthyroidism. Products based on ashwagandha may lead to miscarriages and abortion, hence they are strictly not recommended for expecting women. Also, women who are planning to become pregnant or are lactating should refrain from them. Thus, similar to any other herbal products, taking the doctor's advice is a priority before ingesting ashwagandha extract for therapeutic purposes.