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The benefits of Ashwagandha

Ayurveda roots

Ashwagandha root is a herb that has been used for the past 4,000 years for a variety of medicinal purposes.

It is the traditional medicine of India, and is known as a type of Ayurvedic medicine.

The word Ayurveda, literally translated, means the science of life.

It comes from the Sanskrit root words ayur which means life, and veda, which means to know.

Ayurveda differs from traditional medicine which looks to science and research for answers and cures.

Instead, Ayurveda followers believe that five great elements make up the universe and the human body: earth, water, fire, air and space.

Consequently, this type of medicine seeks to look at these elements to cure ailments of the body.


Ashwagandha is a plant, but it is the root and berry that are used to make medicine.

In keeping with Ayurveda, which uses senses to define its medicinal value, ashwagandha gets its name from the Sanskrit ashva (meaning 'horse') and gandha (meaning 'smell'), which refers to the odour of the root.

Ashwagandha bears yellow flowers and red fruit - all of which are berry sized.

However, never take the plant without buying it as there are serious health implications involved.

"Do not eat ashwagandha berries, as they can cause severe gastrointestinal pain. Taking ashwagandha with tranquilizers may result in drowsiness and loss of coordination. You should avoid this herb if you are taking prescription drugs for anxiety, insomnia, or a seizure disorder," herbal specialist Phyllis Balch advised.

The plant grows in India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

Health benefits

Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, which means that it allows people to adapt better to environmental factors.

For example, a person who is suffering physically may benefit from an adaptogen, while someone who has mental anxiety may also feel the effects.

In terms of psychological problems such as nervousness, people sometimes take ashwagandha to calm themselves.

Medicinal expert Tori Hudson advises taking ashwagandha for general mental well being.

"In cases of general debility, nervous exhaustion, loss of muscle strength, and that all-familiar "brain fog," the ashwagandha plant that grows and is cultivated in India and even the Himalayas is well-known in folk medicine of that region as a traditional treatment of these problems," she said.

To confirm this, a study conducted at the University of Texas Health Science Centre found that ashwagandha inhibits the number of nerve cells that fire in the brain - which makes for a less anxious mind.

As well as mental benefits, it also helps the immune system.

According to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians ashwagandha can boost the immune system and help fight many common illnesses such as colds.

The test mixed the herb with cow's milk, and found that there was a direct correlation between the immune system cells count and the amount of ashwagandha taken.

According to other specialists, the herb can stabilise thyroid levels, as well as prevent cancer cells activity.

In addition, it is thought to be beneficial in clearing up urinary infections.

Possibly most famously, the herb is known as a sexual stimulant.

According to Ms Balch, "ashwagandha is a sexual "grounding" herb that reduces the frequency of premature ejaculation and increases sexual stamina".

How can it be taken?

The herb can be taken in a variety of ways, from tinctures to capsules.

Choose whichever you think you'd prefer to take, and always read the label carefully.

In addition, a combination of ashwagandha with almond oil and rose water can be used as a facial cleanser.

"For better absorption, take ashwagandha on an empty stomach. Caution: ashwagandha may cause drowsiness in some individuals. Do not drive after taking this herb," Bottom Line Health advises.

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