Whether you are walking through VitaminShoppe or your local grocery store, you will undoubtedly see an isle with a gazillion health supplements. Some you are probably familiar with like vitamin A, vitamin B, potassium and so on, but I am sure that there are just as many supplements in that isle that you’ve probably never seen before.
I wanted to take the time today to talk about one of those supplements that you’ve probably never heard of. This supplement is called ashwagandha.
Recently, ashwagandha has seen a huge spike in popularity, mainly due to social media, and people are flocking to their local convenience stores to get their hands on it. But what is this hard to pronounce supplement?
Throughout this article, I will be sharing the health benefits of ashwagandha root and some of its possible side effects so that you can decide for yourself if you want to hop on the newest social media trend.
What is Ashwagandha?
Just by the name, “ashwagandha”, I am sure you probably guessed that it is an exotic plant. According to WebMD, ashwagandha is mainly found in the Middle East, some Asian countries and parts of Africa. It is a pretty basic looking green plant with reddish/orange berries that grow from its leaves.
A fun fact about ashwagandha is that it actually has a pretty raunchy smell. By definition, “ash” means horse and the plant was named ashwagandha because it smells like a horse.
It is a unique herb in which both its root and berries can be used for medicinal purposes. Ashwagandha has been around since ancient times and was even a part of one of the first medicinal systems in ancient India.
The best place to purchase this supplement is either on Amazon or your local drug store.
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Health Benefits of Ashwagandha
Like I briefly mentioned above, ashwagandha has shown the potential to offer a plethora of health benefits. Some of the most notable are:
- Ease stress and anxiety symptoms
- Lower cortisol levels
- Support a healthy heart
- Reduce Inflammation
- Raise testosterone levels in men
- Aid in muscle growth and strength training
- Improve blood flow
- Accelerate fat loss
- Improve memory and cognitive function
- Might be able to kill cancer cells and help treat cancer patients but more research must be done
What is Ashwagandha Mainly Used For?
With its long list of health benefits, ashwagandha has shown that it can be used for a variety of medical conditions, support a healthy lifestyle and better the overall quality of someone’s life. Some of its most notable uses are listed below.
Stress and Anxiety: Ashwagandha is most commonly used to treat stress and anxiety. Like I said earlier, ashwagandha releases chemicals that calm the brain and help people relax. On top of its ability to calm the brain, ashwagandha has shown the potential to reduce cortisol levels in the body. Cortisol, better known as the stress hormone, is produced by the adrenal glands when the body triggers the fight or flight response. Lowering cortisol levels effectively helps the body to combat stress and stay calm more easily.
Due to its anti-stress properties, ashwagandha has also shown the potential to combat symptoms of depression.
Muscle Growth: As I mentioned earlier, ashwagandha has shown, in studies, that it has the possibility to raise testosterone levels in men. More testosterone means higher sperm count, higher libido, and above all, more potential for muscle growth.
One study, conducted with almost 60 young men, showed that those who supplemented with ashwagandha over an 8-week period experienced a significant advantage over those who didn’t in regard to muscle recovery, strength and overall muscle growth.
Ashwagandha has also shown that it can improve blood flow and circulation throughout the body. This means that, while working out, your muscles would have access to more oxygen. More oxygen means more energy and, above all else, improved blood flow increases vascularity leading to you looking even better in the mirror.
Treat Physical/Mental Disorders: Not only can ashwagandha help decrease stress and anxiety symptoms in those who take it, but some studies have shown that ashwagandha can even help treat severe mental diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. More studies need to be done on humans, but one study done on mice inferred that ashwagandha could potentially regenerate damaged nerve cells in the brain and protect the brain from further harm.
As far as ashwagandha’s physical benefits, studies have shown that it has the potential to increase blood flow, improve heart health by lowering bad triglycerides and cholesterol in the body, reduce inflammation by improving insulin sensitivity and even help with sexual dysfunction in males and females.
Possible Side Effects of Ashwagandha
Although ashwagandha has a long list of health benefits, not everyone should take it.
Ashwagandha has the potential to lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar, and raise thyroid hormone levels in the body. Therefore, you should be cautious if you are on medication for blood pressure, diabetes or thyroid issues because ashwagandha can effect the medication’s ability to effectively treat your condition.
It is not proven, but women who are pregnant or who think they may become pregnant should also be cautious before taking ashwagandha.
As always before taking any supplement, you should consult your doctor or a trained health care provider to ensure that the supplement is appropriate and safe for you to take.
In conclusion, ashwagandha is still relatively early in the research stage but many of the studies performed on the herb so far have shown very promising results, even though most of the studies have been done on animals.
Its potential to ease stress symptoms, increase testosterone, improve body composition, and treat mental/physical disorders has been the main reason why this plant has taken social media by storm in recent weeks.
If you are reading this looking for a way to improve your muscle and strength gains, I recommend looking into this natural herb.
Please note that, like I said earlier, ashwagandha still has plenty of research to be done to confirm most of its apparent health benefits. Please be careful and consult with a doctor or healthcare provider before taking this supplement or any supplement!
The best place to find ashwagandha is on Amazon or your local drug store. Amazon probably has the least expensive prices but most places will sell it for around $30 for a 3-month supply. I recommend using the NatureMade brand ashwagandha capsules because this brand is consistently rated as the most trusted supplement brand on the market.
If you enjoyed this article and want to share your thoughts on the health benefits of ashwagandha root, please feel free to leave a comment below!