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Withania somnifera

What are The Numerous Health Benefits of Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is the common name for the herb Withania somnifera. A popular request in the shop with people recommending this to their friends, yet a difficult one to pronounce!

What are the benefits associated with using ashwagandha?

Stress and anxiety

Ashwagandha root is an adaptogenic herb which means it is in the classification of herbs that help the body ‘adapt’ when things are out of balance. The primary area of use for this herb is during times of heightened stress or anxiety. In a review looking at five human studies reporting on the use of this herb, it is shown to significantly improve scores measured on a variety of anxiety and stress scales[i]. Not only has it been shown to have a perceived improvement on stress assessment scales but other studies have also monitored cortisol levels comparing intake of the herb to placebo and also seen a significant reduction in the levels of this stress hormone when taken over a 60 day period[ii].

Not only are stress and anxiety a frequent feature of modern day society, especially during recent times, but also poor sleep quality is another more prevalent problem. Sleep is critical to good health with this restoration time being a crucial part of our natural immunity and cellular repair. Ashwagandha root has demonstrated sleep inducing properties and has been shown to significantly improve overall sleep quality in small scale studies looking at those suffering with insomnia[iii].

Energy-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties

Other benefits of Ashwagandha include its anti-inflammatory properties in relation to joint health, its benefits around energy production in relation to mitochondrial health, and also its uses in relation to memory and cognitive health in both children and old age[iv].

What to consider

As a first intervention, we would always recommend people to look at lifestyle factors to reduce stress at the same time as ensuring that nutrients such as vitamin C are replete to help cope with life’s stressors. However, we also recognise that there can be more challenging times in life where we just need some additional strategies to help minimise the impact of stress and this is where Ashwagandha can be a useful herb to help provide us with some additional support.


Pregnancy and breastfeeding

It is advisable for pregnant or breastfeeding women to avoid ashwagandha due to limited research on its safety during these periods.

Autoimmune conditions

Ashwagandha may stimulate the immune system, which could potentially worsen symptoms in individuals with autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or multiple sclerosis. It is recommended to exercise caution and consult with a healthcare professional if you have an autoimmune condition.

Sedative effects

Ashwagandha has been reported to have mild sedative properties and may cause drowsiness or sleepiness in some individuals. It is important to be aware of this effect, especially when operating machinery or driving.

Medication interactions

Ashwagandha may interact with certain medications, including immunosuppressants, sedatives, and medications for thyroid disorders. It is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional if you are taking any medications to ensure there are no potential interactions.

Recommended For

Stress , Anxiety , Sleep , Rheumatoid Arthritis , Brain Health , Energy , Fatigue/ Exhaustion , Chronic Fatigue

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