When Science Proves The Remedy: Ashwagandha
In the Indian natural healing tradition of Ayurveda, one plant reigns supreme as a rejuvenator: Ashwagandha.
Ayurveda in sanskrit literally means “the science of life”, and Ashwagandha has been a favored natural remedy in Ayurveda for thousands and thousands of years. It is traditionally given to young people to increase their energy, and to the elderly to increase longevity.
In nature, Ashwagandha is a short shrub about two feet tall that enjoys growing in arid areas. The roots of the plant, ground into powder, have been the major focus when it comes to natural remedies.
In traditional usage, Ayurveda is renowned for its ability to balance. It isn’t used as many remedies are: to treat a particular condition. Instead it is often used to improve health across many different areas, from stress response, to longevity, to sleep quality.
Given such a revered position in one of the earth’s oldest natural medicine systems, it stands to reason that something good is going on with Ashwagandha.
Let’s dive into the scientific studies to see if Ashwagandha really is a supreme remedy.
The Leader of the Adaptogens
Modern science and medicine has been studying Ashwagandha as key member of the adaptogens, which sounds like the name of a group of superheroes. Adaptogen is a term only recently recognized by the US Food and Drug Administration. The FDA refers to an adaptogen as a metabolic regulator that can help our body adapt to environmental triggers and prevent harm.
It’s an exciting new field of study, as research is shifting to substances like ashwagandha that don’t necessarily treat a single symptom or illness, but have the ability to adapt to our unique situation.
Here’s three ways that ashwagandha works as a nimble adaptogen:
Reducing Stress and Increasing Awareness
Most natural products that can reduce stress can also make us sleepy, like melatonin. And most natural products that increase awareness can also make us jittery, like caffeine. This is why the adaptogenic nature of ashwagandha is so intriguing.
Multiple studies have shown that supplementing with ashwagandha reduces and modulates levels of the stress hormone cortisol. While other studies have shown that it can help even chronically stressed people feel better.
But at the same time studies (1)(2) have shown that it can help increase alertness, feelings of energy, and brain performance.
This is one of the reasons nutritional scientists are so excited about adaptogens in general, and ashwa in specific. It seems to be able to provide a benefit based on each person’s unique health needs.
Increasing Strength and Lowering Inflammation, Cholesterol, and Triglycerides
Studies have suggested that ashwagandha can help improve body strength. But unlike many substances, like steroids, that build strength at the cost of cardiovascular health, ashwagandha has also been studied as a means of reducing inflammation, cholesterol, and triglycerides.
One animal study showed up to a 53% decrease in triglycerides and blood lipids (fats) in animals treated with ashwagandha, while also showing a significant increase in “healthy” HDL cholesterol levels.
Another study showed that supplementation with ashwagandha reduced inflammation markers in almost all participants.
Boost Testosterone and Fertility without Side Effects
Many treatments to boost testosterone in men come with scary side effects like aggression or premature aging.
Studies (1)(2) have shown that ashwagandha can increase sperm motility in infertile men, and boost testosterone. This is believed to be due to its ability to better help regulate cortisol and stress.
And unlike some other options, ashwagandha is generally very safe, with an immense tradition of side-effect free use and modern studies showing it is very tolerant.
Does Science Prove The Remedy?
Early signs point to yes! While much more study is needed on the specific pathways that ashwagandha’s active ingredients take to benefit balanced health, the early results, as well as a long history of use, are very promising.
Adaptogens are an exciting future field of study. And ashwagandha is proving to be a standout natural remedy.
Let’s get healthier, together!
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