Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), one of the most popular Ayurvedic herb, has certainly caught the attention of the world. It has become so popular that many researchers are curious to explore Ashwagandha benefits in the quest of staying healthy.
It is primarily used as Rasayana (rejuvenation therapy), and it is renowned as Brmhaniya (nourishing) & Balya (bulky), which means that it nourishes the body and increase the bulk of the body.
But before we go into its benefits, let us know about this wonderful herb a little more.
Ashwagandha – all you need to know
Ashwagandha is a wild perennial herb. It got its name because its root and leaves have the smell of horse. In English, it is commonly known as Winter Cherry. It has got several Sanskrit names based on its various properties.
Its botanical name, Withania somnifera itself explains its one of the best properties’ somnifera,’ i.e., which produces sleep.
Ashwagandha is found throughout the drier and sub-tropical parts of India. In Ayurveda mostly its roots are found very useful. But not only are its roots, but also its leaves, fruits, and seeds are also beneficial.
What are the properties of Ashwagandha?
The root of Ashwagandha has a slightly pungent odor and tastes bitter & astringent. It is light to digest and unctuous in nature.
In Ayurvedic terms, due to its pitta (heating) effect and bitter taste, it pacifies Vata & Kapha dosha. Hence it is beneficial in diseases caused due to these two doshas.
It is nourishing for body tissues, especially it is Shukravardhaka, which means it increases the potency and quantity of sperms, thereby increasing the chances of progeny.
The root of Ashwagandha offers several advantages to the body.
- acts as Rasayana i.e., it acts as a tonic and revitalizes the bodily functions
- is adaptogenic as it helps the body to adapt stress, and exerts a normalizing effect upon body functions
- helps overcome fatigue and sleep disorders
- clears or opens the natural ducts of the fluids and secretions of the body and ensures proper nourishment to all the cells of the body and hence imparts strength and increases body weight
- slows down the hyperactivity of the brain and acts as hypnotic in anxiety, stress and neurotic problems
- energizes the body and supports a healthy nervous system
- is anti-inflammatory and also works against tumors
- improves the chances of conception by enhancing the quality of sperms
- benefits a healthy reproductive system in both males and females
- imparts charm and complexion if used daily
- improves voice as well as gives good vision
Leaves have anti-bacterial action as well as it supports and protects the liver. Fruits and seeds of Ashwagandha tend to increase the flow of urine and so help the body to get rid of excess water.
What are the therapeutic uses of Ashwagandha?
The Ayurvedic Pharmacopeia of India recommends Ashwagandha in the treatment for impotence. However, Ayurveda uses Ashwagandha to treat several other conditions like,
- Vata diseases
- Inflammation & arthritis
- Cough and respiratory disorders
- Ulcers, wounds, tumor
How to use Ashwagandha?
- To revitalize the body, take Ashwagandha powder with milk, ghee or warm water for fifteen days
- In extreme leanness of children, give a ½ teaspoon of Ashwagandha powder mixed with a cup of milk twice in a day
- To overcome general weakness, mix a ½ teaspoon of powder in 1 cup of warm milk for a few days. Then gradually increase the amount of powder to 1 teaspoon twice daily. In 1 to 2 months weakness will go and increases the body resistance power to infections
- Ghee prepared with Ashwagandha can be taken every morning to increase body strength
- In chronic bronchitis, fry ½ teaspoon of powder in a teaspoon of ghee and take by mixing with honey twice daily
- To foster a healthy sleep pattern, take Ashwagandha powder with ghee and sugar before going to bed
- In the initial stage of leucoderma, ½ teaspoon powder taken daily with honey twice in a day at least for two months starts showing benefits
Along with the powder, Ashwagandha is made into various forms for easy intake, and there are other alternatives such as ghee, decoction, fermented syrup, oil, tablets, and liquid extract.
What do the recent studies say?
Ashwagandha has become a matter of interest to many researchers. Many recent pieces of research have proved the efficiency of Ashwagandha in many disorders which are prevalent in today’s society. Some of them say that,
- It reverses the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease
- Extract of Ashwagandha was found effective in treating the obsessive-compulsive disorder
- It is a potential preventive drug in cases of ionizing radiation-induced liver toxicity disorder by its anti-oxidizing property. Thus, it is also useful while taking chemotherapy
- It is a potential therapeutic agent for neurodegenerative diseases
- The poly-herbal formulation containing Ashwagandha produces significant improvement in learning and retaining memory
Precautions to be taken
3-5 g per day is the correct dose of Ashwagandha root powder. For children, the dose must be around 1 to 2 g. If you are taking its root extract then you may start with a dose of 300-500 mg per day.
However, the dose varies as per the severity of the disorder to be treated. Hence, the dosage should be decided under a consultant’s supervision.
Due to its pitta nature (heating attribute), Ashwagandha should be used with caution by Pitta Prakriti (body type) persons especially in cases of pitta disorder and toxicity.
Though Ashwagandha is recommended to encourage pregnancy, it is advised not to use it during pregnancy because of its anti-spasmodic activity on the uterus. If taken in large doses, it can even induce abortion.
The standard dose of Ashwagandha proves to be beneficial in many ways, but large doses of Ashwagandha can cause discomfort in the abdomen and even cause diarrhea.
So, Ashwagandha, if used well and in the right quantity is equivalent to ambrosia but if taken in large amounts looking for quick benefit will only make you more miserable.