Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) – The Magical Herb
What is Ashwagandha ?
Withania somnifera, known commonly as Ashwagandha, Indian ginseng, poison gooseberry, or winter cherry, is a plant in the nightshade family.
Ayurvedic medicine has used it to treat people for their day to day woes such as stress, anxiety, exhaustion, lack of sleep etc. And with an abundance of antioxidants, iron and amino acids, it is one of the most powerful herbs in Ayurvedic healing. It is expected to promote physical and mental health, restore the body and increase longevity.
Traditionally, it is believed that a person who consumes this herbal medicine will gain horse-like strength and vitality. It is a small shrub with yellow flowers and a red fruit, native to India, North Africa, and the Middle East. The extract is typically taken from the berries or roots of the plant.
It can be taken in the form of powder or tablet. It has hormone balancing, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant properties which can prevent and treat a number of diseases. Ashwagandha is popularly used for boosting immunity, anti-ageing, joint pain and insomnia. Due to its active ingredient called withanolides, it is also used as an “adaptogen” to help the body cope with daily stress, as a general tonic and for improving thinking ability.
It also improves the brain’s memory functions like attention and concentration, hence helping with the symptoms of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. It enables the body to reserve and sustain vital energy throughout the day while promoting sound, peaceful sleep at night.
- They are perfect for those battling stress, as it inhibits high levels of cortisol, ‘the stress hormone’. It is in fact used in tranquilizers and antidepressants drugs, since it helps relieve physical and mental stress and overcome depression.
- It has wound healing abilities. Fresh leaves are used topically to heal joint pains, skin sores and to reduce swelling.
- It helps in giving strength in conditions like general debility. It is known to improve energy, increase stamina and endurance.
- The exotic herb is a promising alternative treatment for a variety of mental degenerative diseases because it has demonstrated an ability to promote the growth of nerve cells, and protect the brain cells from the harmful effects of the environment.
- Ashwagandha is used as a general body tonic, as it makes you feel stronger and healthier. It is also present in Chyawanprash, the delicious and famous ingredient stocked up in every Indian household.
- It is also an anti-cancer agent as it slows the growth of cancerous tumors.
- The rejuvenating properties of Ashwagandha make it very effective in treating insomnia. It calms the nervous system, eases stress and gets rid of sleeplessness. You can also have a cup of hot milk mixed with 1 teaspoon of powdered Ashwagandha before bedtime.
- It helps to reduce blood sugar levels in both healthy people and those with diabetes.
- Its potent antioxidant properties help protect the skin against free radical damage. And slow down the ageing process by firming up your skin.
- Ashwagandha stimulates DHEA, which is a precursor to both testosterone and estrogen and stimulates the production of natural skin oils.
- It also promotes the production of compounds and proteins for healthy skin. Hyaluronan for skin hydration, elastin to keep the skin supple and collagen for skin strength. For glowing skin, you can also use Ashwagandha as a toner with dried ginger and lemon.
- They are also used in shampoos, it helps to improve the scalp circulation and strengthen the hair. And also helps to get rid of dandruff.
- It also appears to stimulate production of melanin, the pigment responsible for the colour of your hair. So, it may actually reverse greying of hair. It also helps deal with hair loss.