12 Sep 2021: #HealthBytes: Why Ashwagandha is considered one of the best herbs
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is considered to be one of the most important herbs in Ayurvedic medicine. Its root has a horse-like smell, which is described in the name itself, as ashwa means horse and gandha means smell in Sanskrit. Various parts of the plant are used for medicinal purposes and its root extracts are used in supplements. Here's more.
Stress: It is well known for its ability to reduce stress
Several studies have shown that ashwagandha can reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety disorders. A study on people with chronic stress found that those who were supplemented with ashwagandha reported a 69% reduction in anxiety and insomnia. In an animal study, it blocked the stress pathway in the brains of rats by regulating chemical signaling in the nervous system.
Anti-carcinogenic: It has the potential to fight cancer
Ashwagandha may work towards protecting against cancer because many experiments suggest that it can reduce the growth of new cancer cells and kill existing cancer cells. Most of these findings are based on animal studies and are yet to be studied in humans, but the data looks promising. In an experiment on mice, the results showed a 70-80% reduction in ovarian tumor growth.
Neuro diseases: Can combat neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's
Ashwagandha can help in fighting neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. The active ingredients in Ashwagandha, called withanamides, have shown protective effects against B-amyloid-induced plaques in Alzheimer's disease. This is probably because of the natural antioxidants found in the herb that remove free radicals to prevent cell damage. Studies also show promising results when it came to the herb's effects on Parkinson's disease.
Heart health: Animal, human studies have confirmed it significantly improves cardiac health
Ashwagandha may have a variety of benefits for cardiac health, including treating high blood pressure, chest pain, and many heart diseases. Both animal and human studies have also confirmed that it can significantly reduce the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, which are the leading reasons behind heart issues. It reduced cholesterol by 17% and triglycerides levels by 11% in one particular study.
Skincare: Ashwagandha stimulates production of natural skin oils
Ashwagandha stimulates DHEA, a precursor to testosterone and estrogen, that stimulates the production of natural skin oils. It also encourages the production of essential compounds and proteins needed for healthy skin, including hyaluronan for hydrating the skin, elastin for supple skin, and collagen for skin strength. For glowing skin, you can use ashwagandha as a toner with dried ginger and lemon.
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