Ashwagandha is an evergreen

Ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub that is native to India, northern Africa, and the Middle East. But it can be grown almost anywhere.  Its main use is to reduce stress.

Ashwagandha was first used in Ayurveda. This is a natural system of medicine that originated in India more than 3000 years ago. This system was based on the idea that some diseases are caused by stress. This medicinal regiment includes eating rights, herbal remedies, yoga, and even mediation. While Ayurveda may not be common in the United States, practitioners of Ayurveda in India undergo state-recognized training.


Ashwagandha contains chemicals that help calm the brain, reduce swelling, lower blood pressure, and alter the immune system.  Ashwagandha appears to control mediators of stress, such as heat shock proteins, cortisol, and stress-activated c-Ju N-terminal protein kinase. One study found that after 8 weeks the participants had significantly lower levels of stress.  They also experienced better sleep quality. While anxiety may not be the main target for this vitamin, it has been shown to reduce anxiety as well.

The various benefits of ashwagandha

Some studies and evidence have also shown that ashwagandha may help reduce the symptoms of depression. After 12 weeks the participants had reductions in their depression. Another study in 2012 found that stressed adults who took ashwagandha every day for 60 days reported an average of 77% reduction in stress and depression.

In addition, ashwagandha has shown promise for athletic performance. One study showed doses between 120 mg and 1250 mg per day showed some enhancement in physical performance, including strength and oxygen. Other studies also showed that ashwagandha significantly increased maximum oxygen consumption (VO2 max). VO2 max is the maximum amount of oxygen a person can use during intense activity. This is a measurement of heart and lung fitness. VO2 max is not just important in athletes though. Having a high VO2 max has been associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Other studies have also shown that ashwagandha may help increase muscle strength. One study showed that participants who took 600 mg per day, while doing resistance training for 8 weeks, had significantly greater gains in muscle strength and size.  


Another health benefit is that ashwagandha may reduce blood sugar levels. While research is limited, the beginning findings are promising. Ashwagandha has certain compounds such as withaferin (WA). This is a potent antidiabetic process that may aid your cells to take in glucose from your bloodstream.

WA may also help reduce inflammation in the body. WA works by targeting inflammatory pathways in the body, including single molecules called nuclear factor kappa B (NK-kB) and nuclear erythroid 2-related factor 2 Nrg2.



Ashwagandha also shows promise in improving brain function. One review that included 5 clinical studies showed evidence that cognitive function, even in older adults and those with some impairment, had improved. These improvements included: executive functioning, attention, reaction time, performance on cognitive tasks, immediate and general memory, and information processing speed.


In conclusion

Ashwagandha can help with various facets of our busy everyday lives. With health experts now revising the recommended exercise time to about four hours a week, not only can ashwagandha help with getting the most out of your workout routine but also with the stress that comes with planning it!

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