Ashwaganda is used both culinary and medicinally. In Indian cuisine, the young leaves of ashwagandha are used in dishes. The leaves have some medicinal value, but the root is much more powerful. It is a plant with medicinal properties against fatigue, stress and a weak immune system. NB! This article is written from the personal view of the author and may contain information that is not scientifically substantiated and/or in line with the general view.
Fruits ashwaganda / Source: Roger Culos, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)
- Naming ashwaganda
- History of ashwaganda
- Active ingredients ashwaganda
- Ashwaganda as an adaptogen
- Ashwaganda for resistance
- Consult a herbal therapist
Scientists only use the botanical, Latin name of a plant to avoid any confusion in advance. The Latin name of ashwaganda is Withania Somnifera . The name withania is a tribute to the 19th century British botanist named Henry Witham. Somnifera means ‘sleep-inducing’. The plant is not at all sleep-inducing, but is actually used by people who are tired. Ashwaganda comes from a language in India and means something like ‘horse smell’. This refers to the strengthening and libido-stimulating properties of this plant. According to others, the carrot smell resembles that of a sweating horse and that would explain the name. In Dutch the plant has a few nicknames: Wintercherry, Withania and Indian ginseng.
History of ashwaganda
In Indian medicine, the root of ashwaganda has been used for centuries to treat fatigue, weakness, premature aging, impotence and weight loss. It is also used as a painkiller and sedative. Ashwaganda is called Indian ginseng but is not related to Panax Ginseng. It does not have stimulating properties like ginseng, but rather calming qualities.
Active ingredients ashwaganda
Usually the root is used to prepare a herbal medicine. Sometimes the leaf of the ashwagandha is used. The root contains various lactones, acylster glucosides and withanolides. It also contains the withasomniferols AC. There are at least 15 different alkaloids in the root and in terms of minerals, this plant is especially rich in iron.
Ashwaganda as an adaptogen
Ashwaganda is an adaptogen; that is a medical term that means ‘increasing adaptability’. Mental and physical performance is supported by this plant. It stimulates the adrenal gland, is calming and anti-anxiety, has antidepressant effects and is a strong antioxidant. The regeneration capacity of cells is increased and the aging process is slowed down. It promotes general health and stimulates the production of red and white blood cells. Due to its high iron content, it helps prevent and cure anemia. The entire hormonal system is brought into balance, making it an aphrodisiac. Because of all these medicinal properties, ashwaganda is prescribed for the following indications:
- Chronic fatigue, overworkedness, burnout,
- Weakness in overactive persons,
- Weakness due to chronic illness, recovery from illness,
- Ashwaganda / Source: Cliff, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-2.0)
Stress, reduced stress resistance,
- Stress exhaustion, nervous exhaustion,
- Depression due to stress, nervousness, restlessness,
- Reducing opiates, anxiety, insomnia due to stress,
- Prevention of stomach ulcer due to stress,
- Improving performance and fitness of athletes,
- Weak nerves,
- Impaired memory, reduced ability to concentrate,
- Prevention of premature signs of old age,
- Prevention of senile dementia,
- Prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease,
- Tardive dyskinesia,
- Reduces side effects of radiotherapy (irradiation),
- Reduces chemotherapy side effects
- Leucopenia or lack of white blood cells,
- Anorexia, constipation, weight loss,
- Lack of libido, sexual weakness, impotence
- Erection problems, male infertility,
- Hormonal imbalance in women,
- To promote conception.
Ashwaganda for resistance
Ashwaganda improves the quality of the immune system. It is an anti-inflammatory herb. It fights bacteria and tumors. That is why it is used as a supportive agent in regular cancer therapy. In addition to cancer, ashwaganda fights all kinds of inflammatory diseases. By the way, you can also talk about cancer as an inflammatory disease at the cellular level. Due to its immunostimulating and cancer-fighting properties, ashwaganda is used for:
- Immune weakness, swollen lymph nodes, herpes,
- Leucocytosis or increased white blood cell count,
- Herpes circinatus (skin fungal infection),
- Asthma, bronchitis,
- Osteoarthritis, arthritis,
- Back pain, psoriasis,
- Adjuvant in cancer therapy,
Because ashwaganda lowers blood sugar levels, it is used for metabolic syndrome and diabetes mellitus.
Consult a herbal therapist
Anyone who wants to use ashwaganda as a medicinal remedy is recommended to consult a herbal therapist. Ashwaganda extracts and medicines in the form of mother tincture, powder, dried herb, liquid extract and decoction should only be used on the prescription of authorized persons. A herbal therapist can tell you more about it, as well as about possible side effects and interactions with other medicines or herbs. There are also beneficial combinations with herbs. Some herbs can enhance each other’s effects; that’s called synergy. All medicinal effects of this medicinal herb mentioned in this article are based on scientific research and come from Geert Verhelst’s Large Handbook of Medicinal Plants, a standard work in the field of healing plants. The book is used in phytotherapy.
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