Ashwagandha is a plant of the nightshade family, and its root is known to possess some medicinal properties. In fact, it is an important herb in Ayurveda.
Ashwagandha, or Withania somnifera is a plant of the Solanaceae or nightshade family. Its root is an important herb in Ayurveda, a system of traditional medicine of India. Ashwagandha is a short shrub that grows mainly in India and North America, and is also known as winter cherry and Indian ginseng. This herb from the land of India is mainly known as an adaptogen, which means that it can increase the ability to withstand both physical and mental stress. It has many other medicinal properties, which are discussed below.
Health Benefits of Ashwagandha Root
Traditionally, the root of the ashwagandha plant has been used for treating fever and inflammation by the native Americans and Africans. Even modern studies have revealed that this herb has anti-inflammatory properties, and it can help boost the immune and the nervous system.
The herb contains flavonoids, which are known to be powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants can minimize cellular and tissue damage caused by the free radicals. Antioxidants can help prevent many diseases including cancer, and slow down the aging process.
Ashwagandha can strengthen the immune system by increasing the count of white blood cells in the body.
It can promote the health of the nervous system as well. It can produce a sedative effect on the central nervous system, and prove beneficial in conditions like nervous exhaustion, stress, and anxiety. It may help reduce the symptoms associated with drug withdrawal as well.
Apart from these, this herb and its preparations may provide relief in conditions like insomnia, chronic fatigue, muscle weakness, decreased libido, infertility or impotence, memory loss, senility, premature aging, and arthritis. Presently, clinical trials are going on to find out the effectiveness of this herb for conditions like Parkinson’s disease, bipolar disorder, diabetes, tuberculosis, and bone cancer.
In general, this herb is considered safe for both adults and children. However, one can experience drowsiness while using this herb for the first time. This side effect can be avoided by taking the herb before going to bed or at mealtime. Some individuals can experience a few other side effects like gas and stomachache. A slight elevation in body temperature can also be experienced by some individuals.
It is important to take ashwagandha only in the appropriate dosage, as an overdose can result in diarrhea and vomiting. To find out the right dosage, you can talk to a herbalist. This herb can interact with certain medications like barbiturates, antianxiety medications, prednisone, and cyclosporine-based medications. People using these drugs should avoid this herb or consult their physician before using it for medicinal purposes.
Individuals with autoimmune conditions, multiple sclerosis, lupus, digestive ailments, stomach ulcers, liver disease, diabetes, and inflammatory and muscular degenerative conditions should also avoid this herb and its preparations. The effects of this herb during pregnancy and breastfeeding have not been studied extensively. So, it is better to avoid this herb during this period.
If used in the appropriate dosage, ashwagandha root may not cause any major side effects. But still, it is better to take this herb under the supervision of a health care provider. Finally, if you observe any undesirable side effect after taking this herb, be sure to inform your physician as soon as possible.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.