Ashwagandha is a medicinal herb commonly used in Asia and Africa for over 6,000 years and goes by various names, including winter cherry and Indian ginseng. The herb grows all year round and is used for its many health benefits for both your body and mind. It has been hailed as an effective adaptogen, meaning the herb helps the body be better equipped to manage anxiety and stress. The Hindu traditional medicine method, Ayurveda, cites Ashwagandha as an essential herb for natural healing.
As with most medicines, there are various pros and cons associated with the use of Ashwagandha.
- The herb has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels by increasing muscle cells’ ability to secrete and synthesize insulin.
- The withaferin found in this herb enhances cancer cell death by increasing oxygen within the cancer cells, disrupting the functions and eventually leading to the cells’ death.
- This herb is used to regulate and reduce depression, anxiety and stress by moderating the chemical signaling in the brain and reducing cortisol levels.
- The high antioxidant levels of the herb enhance sperm quality and increase testosterone levels in men.
- Ashwagandha reduces body fat and aids in adding muscle mass.
- It has anti-inflammatory properties, thus increasing your body’s ability to fend off infection and strengthening your immunity.
- The Indian ginseng reduces triglyceride levels, minimizing your risk of exposure to heart disease.
- Winter cherry traps harmful free radicals in cells, boosts memory for patients with brain injuries and treats Alzheimer’s disease.
- Ashwagandha helps maintain healthy hormone levels and reduces inflammation in the uterus, which increases the chances of a viable pregnancy.
- There is still a lot of research that needs to be done on the proper dosage of this supplement to be administered for different illnesses.
- The manufacturers of the herb are not regulated, as is the case with many other medicines, which may be a cause for concern.
- Studies have shown that the herb may contain heavy metals, such as lead and mercury, that are detrimental to human health.
Ashwagandha supplements come in many forms, including capsules, powders and liquid extracts. The dosage depends on what you are striving to treat. The recommended dosage ranges from 150 milligrams to 2 grams per day. This dosage should be given by a licensed medical practitioner, depending on your needs. To be on the safer side, starting with a small dosage and observing your body’s tolerance for the herb is recommended.
When to Avoid Using Ashwagandha
You can derive certain benefits from consuming Ashwagandha after pregnant, including increasing energy, reducing stress and aiding in milk production after delivering your baby. It is not recommended to use this herb in any form when you get pregnant as it may cause distress to the unborn child, miscarriages and premature labor. The supplement has been rated as likely unsafe by the US Food and Drug Administration.
Seeing as Ashwagandha makes the immune system more active, it can worsen the symptoms of diseases such as multiple sclerosis, lupus and other autoimmune diseases. The sedative properties of this herb make it unsuitable to use when you have surgery, especially when combined with anesthesia and medications used during surgery.
The herb increases thyroid hormones, making it detrimental for patients with hyperthyroidism. Patients with prostate cancer should not take Ashwagandha supplements because they increase testosterone levels. The compounds in this herb make it unsuitable for people with diabetes, as it decreases blood sugar levels, and stomach ulcers because it irritates the stomach lining.
Possible Side Effects of Using Ashwagandha
Even though side effects are rare when Ashwagandha is used in small amounts, there are still some possible side effects that you may experience, which include:
- Stomach upset
These side effects are usually experienced if the herb is ingested in large amounts.
There are many benefits to taking Ashwagandha orally or applying it on the skin. The most important thing you need to focus on is consulting your medical practitioner before use. The doctor will take your medical history into account and prescribe the correct dosage and form you should take. It would be best to do proper research to determine which brand has better reviews because the FDA has not approved the herb supplement.