Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ashwagandha (अश्वगन्धा) - Withania Somnifera

Ashwagandha (अश्वगन्धा): Health Benefits
English Name: Ashwagandha, Botanical Name: Withania Somnifera, Common Indian Name: अश्वगन्धा (Indian Ginseng), Poison Gooseberry, Winter Cherry
In Ayurveda (आयुर्वेद), the berries and leaves of Withania Somnifera (अश्वगन्धा) are locally applied to tumors, tubercular glands, carbuncles, and ulcers. The roots of Withania Somnifera (अश्वगन्धा) are used to prepare the herbal remedy Ashwagandha (अश्वगन्धा), which has been traditionally used to treat various symptoms and conditions. Withania Somnifera is widely considered as the Indian ginseng. In Ayurveda, it is classified as a rasayana (rejuvenation रसायन) and expected to promote physical and mental health, rejuvenate the body in debilitated conditions and increase longevity. Ashwagandha is used to treat a number of disorders that affect human health including central nervous system (CNS) disorders, particularly in epilepsy, stress and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disorders, Tardive Dyskinesia, cerebral ischemia, and even in the management of drug addiction. The most useful usage is to reduce stress and perhaps aid in sleep.
It improves physical energy and athletic ability, increase immunity to colds and infections and increase sexual capacity and fertility. It is general energy-promoting, disease-preventing tonic. It shows significant increase in white blood cell counts. It is a mild sedative effect on the central nervous system. It increases vitality, particularly when recovering from chronic illnesses and pain management for arthritic conditions. It also helps regulate blood sugar. It may be a promising alternative for cancer treatment and prevention. It shows positive effects on the endocrine, cardio, and central nervous systems. It is one herb that could help your body produce its own thyroid hormones.
Ashwagandha is used to restore male libido, cure impotence and increase male fertility. It has been revered over time for its ironic dual capacity to energize and calm at the same time. Preliminary studies indicate that the herb helps to reduce the negative effects of stress, slow tumor growth, treat anxiety and insomnia, and reduce cholesterol in addition to increasing sexual performance. Stress can cause fatigue, often manifesting as “hyper” signs like agitation and difficulty sleeping.  By providing a nourishing, energizing effect, you can support a healthy nervous system.  When the stress doesn’t impact the nervous system as strongly, the “hyper” signs will naturally resolve over time, allowing for a calming effect.  This quality of Ashwagandha makes it a prime supplement to use in the toning and rejuvenation process. Because Ashwagandha has traditionally been used to treat various diseases associated with nerve tissue damage related to the destructive molecules known as free radicals, some researchers have speculated that the herb may have antioxidant properties. Free-radical damage plays a role in normal ageing and in such neurological conditions as epilepsy, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease. In addition to its dual energizing/calming effect, Ashwagandha offers a number of benefits:
1.                Supports a healthy immune system
2.                Calms mental processes
3.                Fosters healthy sleep patterns
4.                Benefits a healthy reproductive system in both males and females
5.                Sustains energy levels, strength, and vitality, including with physical activity
6.                Supports healthy back and joints
7.                Combats the effects of stress
8.                Improves learning, memory, and reaction time
9.                Reduces anxiety and depression without causing drowsiness
10.           Stabilizes blood sugar
11.           Lowers cholesterol
12.           Reduces brain-cell degeneration
13.           Contains anti-malarial properties
14.           Offers anti-inflammatory benefits
15.           Antioxidant effects
16.           Reduction of blood pressure or hypertension
17.           Reduction of feelings such as anxiety, edginess, irritability, stress
18.           Anti-inflammatory effects which stops or delays the inflammatory process
19.           Improvement of concentration as well as memory
20.           Taming of tension and headache
21.           Promotion of relaxation leading to restful sleep
22.           Promotion of thyroid function in a healthy way
23.           Reduction of effects of stress
24.           Reduction of bad cholesterol
25.           Protection and nourishment of the liver
26.           Natural steroidal effects
27.           Increase in the red blood cell production
28.           Increase in endurance and energy
29.           Suppression of pain symptoms
30.           Promotion of mental satisfaction as well as calmness
31.           Building up of stamina
32.           Strengthening the muscles of the cardiovascular system
NOTE: It high doses it may have steroidal activity.  Ashwagandha be avoided in pregnancy. This is because of its spasmolytic activity on the uterus, and its induction of abortions in animals when given in very large doses. When used with other respiratory depressants, Ashwagandha can be problematic.