Today we’re going to take a closer look at Withania somnifera, more popularly known as ashwagandha, a plant whose roots and berries have been scientifically shown to help improve mood and energy. For thousands of years, healers have used ashwagandha for everything from minor aches and pains to insomnia. As with many tried and tested natural remedies, scientists are already looking for ways to extract the beneficial effects of this plant for mass production, but the benefits are already available directly, from the source.
The Origins of Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha grows in the drier regions of India and in other parts of Asia, occurring naturally and also in planned farms, where present-day growers cultivate the plant in order to harvest its leaves, roots, and berries for medicine. Also known as Indian ginseng, ashwagandha’s scientific name “somnifera” refers to its ability to help soothe, literally to help make one restful and at peace. For thousands of years, and to this very day, this plant holds prime place in Indian medical practice.
The Chemistry in Ashwagandha: Withanolides and More
A number of recent medical studies have focused on the use of ashwagandha and have found beneficial effects for everything from cancer to Alzheimer’s. Chemical analysis of this plant reveal that it contains numerous beneficial chemicals with no dangerous side effects. In particular, chemicals known as withanolides, specially created within this plant, have been shown to reduce the production of stress-related chemicals in laboratory animals, enhancing the body’s natural ability to respond to stress and other intrusions. The chemicals in ashwagandha, specifically the withanolides, bind together with chemicals in our bodies in a way which leads to less stress, less pain, and the ability to do more. Other tests have shown that this same plant reduces inflammation due to arthritis and helps the body combat certain kinds of cancer. In other words, test after test has revealed the benefits of ashwagandha as making a demonstrable difference in the lives of those who take it.
Much like scientists eventually culled aspirin out of the leaves of willow trees, confirming what traditional medicine has always known, the chemical contents of ashwagandha provide indisputable benefits in an all-natural container. Various methods now exist for growing ashwagandha, most of these – naturally – focusing on the best and quickest ways to produce withanolides, which are especially concentrated in the plant’s roots, but any part of the plant can be harvested, ground up, and used for healing.
The Many Uses of Ashwaghnda
Are you looking to reduce stress and improve memory? Perhaps you simply need a good night’s rest. Then again, maybe you or a friend is dealing with cancer and looking into traditional remedies for this terrible disease. Here are some of the most common uses for this plant:
- Relieve every day aches and pains.
- Cure insomnia.
- Reduce tumor size.
- Reduce swelling, including arthritis.
- Improve mood, including depression.
Common Side Effects of Ashwagandha
As with any natural remedy busy at work in your body, there may be some unintended consequences when taking ashwagandha extract. As shown in a recent medical study, these side effects are rare and generally minimal and apart from the occasional outlier (easily resolved by stopping this home remedy) are all easily manageable. Common side effects can include stomachache, mild nausea, and headache. Side effects are likely to increase if you take more than the recommended dosage for your needs. When taken in careful moderation, chances are extremely low that you will experience any negative effects.
Ashwagandha and You?
Perhaps you are wondering if you should try ashwagandha to see if it will work. Maybe you’ve been taking it for years and wondering why it does work. Hopefully, this brief overview has provided a little more insight. Suffice to say, the medical benefits of ashwagandha are well-known and well-established. If you’re looking for an all-natural pain reliever that also offers antioxidant and other benefits, this is a good one to keep in mind.