Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) : Benefits, Dosage and Side Effects

Withania Somnifera Plant with Flower

FAMILY— Solanaceae

GENUS— Withania

SCIENTIFIC NAME— Withania Somnifera

OTHER NAME(s)— Ashwagandha, Indian Ginseng, Poison Gooseberry, Winter Cherry

Overview


Withania somnifera, also called ashwagandha, is an Ayurvedic medicine that does not need any introduction. Due to its countless benefits, ashwagandha has been used worldwide for centuries.

Researchers also believe that ashwagandha is a powerful medicine. For this reason, it is said that its use can help in avoiding many health problems. [Trusted Source 1]

What Is Withania Somnifera (Ashwagandha)?


The scientific name of ashwagandha is withania somnifera. In common parlance, it is also called Indian ginseng and winter cherry.

Its plant is 35–75 cm tall. It is mainly cultivated in dry areas of India, such as Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat. Apart from this, it is also grown in abundance in China and Nepal. It has 23 species worldwide and two species in India. [Trusted Source 2]

Ashwagandha is considered beneficial for overall health. Its use can improve brain functioning. [Trusted Source 1]

According to a report published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), it can also used to enhance immunity, improve sex and fertility in men, and reduce stress. [Trusted Source 3] [Trusted Source 4]

In addition, it has antioxidant properties, which can help prevent free radicals from forming in the body. For this reason, aging and other diseases can be reduced. [Trusted Source 5] [Trusted Source 6]

Health Benefits of Ashwagandha


1. Reduces Bad Cholesterol :

Withania somnifera has many antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. For this reason, it can help protect against all kinds of heart problems.

Consuming ashwagandha powder can strengthen heart muscles and help to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) levels.

Research from the World Journal of Medical Science also confirmed that ashwagandha is found to be plentiful hypolipidemic, which may help in reducing bad cholesterol present in the blood. [Trusted Source 7]

2. Prevents Sleeplessness (Insomnia) :

If someone has the problem of sleeplessness (insomnia), withania somnifera can be consumed on the advice of a doctor.

According to a research conducted by the International Institute at Tsukuba University in Japan (2017), ashwagandha leaves contain a compound called triethylene glycol, which can help in sleeping. Based on this research, a person suffering from insomnia can benefit from consuming withania somnifera. [Trusted Source 8]

3. Reduced Stress :

According to a research conducted on mice, withania somnifera can be effective in protecting against stress and anxiety.

It contains two compounds called sitoindosides and acyl-steryl-glucosides. Both components work as an anti-stress agent in the body. These properties can help relieve stress. [Trusted Source 1] [Trusted Source 9] [Trusted Source 10]

4. Sexual Health :

Many individuals have low sexual desire and low semen quality. In such a case, a powerful medicine like withania somnifera can improve the quality of semen by improving sexual ability in men.

According to a 2010 study, withania somnifera can increase the quality of semen as well as its number. This research has been done on the decreased fertility due to stress (oxidative stress, chemical stress and mental stress). [Trusted Source 11]

5. Prevents Cancer :

This Ayurvedic herb can help in the prevention of diseases like cancer or tumor.

A scientific research published by NCBI reveals that withania somnifera has anti-tumor properties, which can prevent tumors from growing. Also, withania somnifera may help eliminate the negative effects of chemotherapy used as a treatment for cancer. [Trusted Source 12]

Keep in mind that withania somnifera cannot be directly used to cure cancer, but to prevent cancer. If someone has tumor, he must be treated by a doctor. Also, the patient should take withania somnifera on the advice of the doctor. [Trusted Source 13]

6. Diabetes :

Diabetes can also be avoided through withania somnifera. The hypoglycemic properties present in it may help in reducing the amount of glucose.

In fact, in 2009, the International Journal of Molecular Science had studied diabetic rats using ashwagandha root and leaves. After some time, positive changes were observed in mice.

In this context, it can be said that ashwagandha can also be used to prevent diabetes. [Trusted Source 14]

7. Better Immunity :

The herb can also be consumed to improve immunity. It has been clarified through various scientific studies that consuming ashwagandha improves immunity. [Trusted Source 15]

The immunomodulatory properties present in it alter immunity of the body according to its requirement, which helps in fighting diseases. [Trusted Source 1]

8. Thyroid :

The butterfly-shaped thyroid gland in the human throat produces necessary hormones. When these hormones become unbalanced, the body weight begins to decrease or increase.

Along with this, other kinds of problems have to be faced. This stage is called thyroid.

A study on thyroid-prone mice found that when mice were routinely given ashwagandha root as a medicine, their thyroid hormones began to balance. [Trusted Source 16]

As well as studies on hypothyroid patients, ashwagandha has also been found to be beneficial in thyroid. [Trusted Source 17]

9. For Eyes :

Increasingly people are falling prey to eye diseases. Cases of diseases like cataract have also almost doubled. Many people move from cataract to blind. [Trusted Source 18] [Trusted Source 19] [Trusted Source 20]

In this regard, a research was conducted on ashwagandha. According to it, ashwagandha has many antioxidant properties, which can help fight to cataracts.

The study found that the herb can work effectively against cataracts. It may be somewhat beneficial in preventing cataracts from growing. [Trusted Source 21]

10. Relive Arthritis :

It is such a painful disease, in which it becomes difficult for the patient to walk and sit.

Ashwagandha has anti-inflammatory properties. Due to this property, using the root juice of ashwagandha can reduce the symptoms associated with arthritis and can also relieve pain. [Trusted Source 22]

11. Improves Memory :

Many studies conducted on animals have found that ashwagandha can positively impact brain functioning and memory. [Trusted Source 23][Trusted Source 24]

As we have already mentioned above, consuming ashwagandha can also improve sleep, which relaxes the brain and can work better. [Trusted Source 25]

12. Strong Muscles :

It is also important to strengthen the muscles along with bones. Ashwagandha intake can be beneficial for muscles.

With this, muscles can become stronger as well as better coordination between brain and muscles. This is why gym goers and wrestlers practicing in the arena also take ashwagandha supplements. [Trusted Source 26]

At the moment, further scientific research is needed in this regard.

13. Fight Against Infections :

A scientific study found that ashwagandha has antibacterial properties. This property can help fight against bacteria.

The juice of ashwagandha root and leaves reduced the effect of salmonella bacteria. Salmonella can cause intestinal problems and food poisoning. [Trusted Source 27]

According to a research published by NCBI, ashwagandha is believed to be effective against infection called aspergillosis.

This infection affects immune system by causing infections in the lungs and also in other organs. [Trusted Source 28] [Trusted Source 29]

14. Heart Disease :

According to medical research published by NCBI, ashwagandha may help to reduce heart diseases.

According to the study, giving patients a fixed dose of ashwagandha regularly can reduce cardio apoptosis symptoms to some extent. Also myocardium (strong and healthy tissue of the heart) can be revived. [Trusted Source 30]

15. Controlled Weight :

Everyone wants to look smart and healthy. For this, along with staying healthy, it is important to remain balanced.

According to a research published by NCBI, intake of ashwagandha root extract has been found to decrease appetite. At the same time, weight has also been controlled. [Trusted Source 31]

Research suggests that extracts of ashwagandha root may improve psychological symptoms of stress. It can help in reducing weight by reducing stress and anxiety and reducing the intense desire for food.

Here we make it clear that along with ashwagandha, balanced diet and regular exercise is also necessary to lose weight.

16. Benefits Of Ashwagandha For Skin


a. Anti-Aging :

Ashwagandha has many antioxidants. In this sense, it can also be beneficial for your skin.

Antioxidant properties can protect against signs of aging such as wrinkles and loose skin by fighting free radicals formed in the body. [Trusted Source 5] [Trusted Source 6]

This property present in ashwagandha can also help protect against cancer caused by the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Ashwagandha can be used for skin by making a face pack. [Trusted Source 32] [Trusted Source 33]

Below we are showing the method of making face pack using ashwagandha —

Material :

  • 1 Teaspoon ashwagandha powder
  • Rose water (as required)

Method Of Use :

  • Mix ashwagandha powder and rose water to make a paste
  • Now apply it on your face
  • Wash it after about 15 minutes

b. To Heal Wounds :

Although this medicinal herb cannot directly help in healing wounds, but can definitely prevent bacteria from growing in the wound.

The antibacterial properties present in it can prevent the risk of infection by eliminating bacteria that grow in the wound. [Trusted Source 33]

In this case, the time taken for the wound to heal may be reduced. [Trusted Source 34]

Its paste or oil can be used in the wound. Keep in mind that a doctor must be consulted if there is a deep wound.

Material :

  • Root of ashwagandha
  • A little water (as required)

Method Of Use :

  • First cut ashwagandha root into small pieces and then grind it in a grinder to prepare powder
  • Now make a paste by adding water as required
  • After making the paste, apply it on the affected area
  • You can apply it at least once a day until you get relief

c. Skin Inflammation :

The medicinal herb ashwagandha has adequate anti-inflammatory properties. [Trusted Source 1]

In this sense, it can be said that it can help reduce inflammation in the skin. [Trusted Source 35]

Bacteria, called staphylococcus aureus, are responsible for skin infections, and the infection causes swelling of the face. [Trusted Source 36]

At the same time, withaferin present in ashwagandha has antibacterial properties, which can neutralize skin inflammation by neutralizing bacteria staphylococcus aureus responsible for infection. [Trusted Source 37]

Method Of Use :

Where there is swelling in the skin, you can apply ashwagandha paste.

d. Decreased Cortisol Levels :

Cortisol is a type of hormone, also known as stress hormone. It is one of the hormone responsible for physiological changes. [Trusted Source 38]

This hormone suggests that feeling hungry. When the level of this hormone increases in the blood, the level of fat and stress in the body also increases.

This can cause various types of damage to the body. Therefore, it is necessary to reduce cortisol levels. According to a report published by NCBI, the use of ashwagandha can reduce cortisol. [Trusted Source 39]

Method Of Use :

You can take ashwagandha supplements from 3 to 6 gram daily. [Trusted Source 40]

Keep in mind that you should consult a doctor once before consuming it. The doctor will tell about the exact amount and how long it is to be consumed according to the requirement of the body.

17. Benefits Of Ashwagandha For Hair


a. For Hair :

Everyone wants black, thick and long hair. This is possible only when the scalp is healthy.

For this, just like any medicine, shampoo or conditioner, you can also rely on Ayurveda.

According to a research published by NCBI, ashwagandha can help prevent hair loss due to genetic causes and thyroid. [Trusted Source 41]

It also increases melanin of the hair, due to which the hair color remains good. [Trusted Source 42]

b. Dandruff :

Dandruff occurs during seborrheic dermatitis skin disorder. It causes scalp itching, rash, and dandruff. [Trusted Source 43]

In such a situation, the anti-stress properties present in ashwagandha can be beneficial. It can eliminate dandruff by eliminating stress. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that can cure seborrheic dermatitis. [Trusted Source 1] [Trusted Source 44]

c. Relieve From White or Grey Hair :

Everyone wants their hair not to be prematurely white. This desire can be fulfilled with ashwagandha.

This Ayurvedic medicine increases the amount of melanin in the hair. Melanin is a type of pigment that helps maintain the natural color of hair. In this way, it helps to reduce the problem of premature greying. [Trusted Source 45] [Trusted Source 42]

How To Use Ashwagandha?


In the market you will find ashwagandha in various forms, but most of it is found in the form of powder.

Ashwagandha powder can be used by mixing honey, water or ghee. Apart from this, you can easily find ashwagandha tea, ashwagandha capsules and ashwagandha juice in the market or online. For maximum health benefits, take it with an empty stomach.

Now the question arises that how to use ashwagandha powder? So in this regard, it is important to consult a doctor. Doctor recommend to use ashwagandha according to the problem and physical need.

Ashwagandha Dosage


A dose of 3 to 6 grams of dried root of ashwagandha can be consumed, it is considered safe. However, the dosage of ashwagandha depends on the age, health, problem and other causes of each individual. [Trusted Source 40]

Therefore, do not use it without doctor’s advice. You know how to use ashwagandha and how many doses of it should be eaten. Now let’s know about the loss of ashwagandha.

Side Effects Of Ashwagandha


Apart from the benefits of ashwagandha powder, there can be some side effects as well. Damage to the body due to ashwagandha reaches only due to its overdose. [Trusted Source 40]

Therefore, you should consume only a moderate amount of it. Some of the disadvantages of ashwagandha may include —

  • An overdose of ashwagandha can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, diarrhea and vomiting
  • There can be disadvantages of consuming it during pregnancy. It is believed that a large amount of it can act as a contraceptive
  • Depression can occur in the central nervous system. Therefore, it is advisable to stay away from alcohol and other intoxicants while consuming ashwagandha

Conclusion


Nature has given us many precious gifts and ashwagandha is one of them. You can consume it to avoid all kinds of diseases, increase strength in the body and controlled weight.

Also, this medicinal herb can help you to look younger and more beautiful. Of course, it is a potent medicine, but regular use over a long period of time can be harmful.

Therefore, start taking it only by asking the expert about its quantity and for how long to take it.

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