I’ve been taking Ashwagandha for 7 years on and off. When you read the research, you start to question what Ashwagandha doesn’t treat. It’s one of the best all-around supplements for general health.
- Traditional Medicinal Uses
- The Ashwagandha That I Take
- Health Benefits of Ashwagandha
- 1) Ashwagandha is an Anti-Oxidant
- 2) Ashwagandha is an Anti-Inflammatory
- 3) Ashwagandha Combats Anxiety/Stress
- 4) Ashwagandha Enhances Brain Function
- 5) Ashwagandha Induces Fat Cell Death
- 6-10) Ashwagandha Fights Infections
- 11-22) Anti-Cancer Activity of Ashwagandha
- 23-28) Ashwagandha is Neuroprotective
- 29) Ashwagandha Promotes Heart Health
- Ashwagandha has been found to protect the heart in different models of stress and injury
- 30) Ashwagandha is Anti-Diabetic
- 31-32) Ashwagandha Reduces Pain/Fever
- 33-36) Ashwagandha for Women
- 37) Ashwagandha Improves Fertility
- 38) Ashwagandha Reduces Autoimmune Diseases
- 39) Ashwagandha Promotes Bone Health
- 40-44) Hormonal Interactions of Ashwagandha
- 45) Ashwagandha Protects the Liver
- 46) Ashwagandha is Good for the Gut
- 47) Ashwagandha Protects Pancreatic Cells
- 48) Ashwagandha Protects Kidneys
- 49) Ashwagandha Prevents Respiratory Problems
- 50) Ashwagandha for Skin
- 51) Ashwagandha May Reduce Morphine Dependence
- 52) Ashwagandha for Genetic Diseases
- 53) Ashwagandha Helps Muscle Growth
- 54) Ashwagandha For Longevity
- 55) Ashwagandha Prevents Seizures
- 56) Ashwagandha Reduces Age-Related Cataracts
- 57) Ashwagandha Protects Against Industrial Toxins
- 58) Effect of Ashwagandha on Blood Cells
- 59) Ashwagandha is an Effective Anti-Venom
- Ashwagandha Synergies
- Parts Used
- Active Chemical Constituents
- Side Effects
- Buying Ashwagandha: What Joe Uses
- Molecular Targets
- Health Tools I Wish I Had When I Was Sick
Withania sominifera (WS) is known commonly as Ashwagandha, Indian ginseng, Poison gooseberry or Winter cherry. It is a plant of the Solanaceae or nightshade family.
In Sanskrit, Ashwagandha, the Indian name for Withania Sominifera, means “odor of the horse”, probably originating from the odor of its root which resembles that of a sweaty horse [R].
Ashwagandha is also referred to as “Indian ginseng“, since it is used in India, in a way similar to how ginseng is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a large variety of human diseases.
In Ayurveda, Ashwagandha is considered a “Rasayana” herb, an elixir that works, in a nonspecific, global fashion, to increase human health and longevity [R].
It is also considered an “Adaptogen“, a nontoxic medication that normalizes physiological functions disturbed by chronic stress, through correction of imbalances in the neuroendocrine and immune systems.
Although used as a broad spectrum remedy in India for centuries, and mentioned as the “Queen of Ayurveda” Ashwagandha has only recently been under investigation in laboratory settings [R].
Traditional Medicinal Uses
In Ayurveda, the fresh roots are sometimes boiled in milk prior to drying to leach out undesirable constituents [R].
The berries are used as a substitute for Rennet, to coagulate milk in cheese making.
Milk supplemented with Ashwagandha has been reported to increase total proteins and body weight.
A decoction of Ashwagandha root is used as a nutrient and health restorative agent among postpartum ladies [R].
Ashwagandha is said to thicken and increase the nutritive value of the breastmilk when given to nursing mothers.
The Ashwagandha That I Take
Below, I give a bunch of different good options to buy Ashwagandha, but some people want to to know which one I take.
Health Benefits of Ashwagandha
1) Ashwagandha is an Anti-Oxidant
Ashwagandha improved oxidative damage induced by streptozotocin in rats [R].
The chemoprotective activity of Ashwagandha may be due to its antioxidant and detoxifying properties [R].
2) Ashwagandha is an Anti-Inflammatory
Ashwagandha suppressed Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells (MDSC) and Tumor-Associated Macrophages (TAMs) [R].
Ashwagandha extract also showed an enhancement in the activity of macrophages in animals [R].
Joe’s Experience: Although Ashwagandha increases Th-1 [R], it’s more of an immune balancer. Ashwagandha is one of the Th1 boosting supplements that I use that doesn’t cause me any problems.
3) Ashwagandha Combats Anxiety/Stress
Ashwagandha is specifically used as a tonic to calm the nerves (nervine) [R].
The root extract of Ashwagandha at high concentrations safely and effectively improved resistance towards stress and thereby improved self-assessed quality of life in human subjects [R].
Cortisol, the body’s stress hormone, contributes to muscle loss and weakness, wrinkles, and cognitive impairment.
Ashwagandha extract reduced chronic stress-induced ulcers than the drug ranitidine, a decline in sex drive, and cognitive impairment (rat models) [R].
4) Ashwagandha Enhances Brain Function
Ashwagandha belongs to a sub-group of “Rasayanas” (or elixir) known as “Medhyarasayanas” (Medhya refers to the mind and mental/intellectual capacity) [R].
Ashwagandha has a cognition promoting effect. It is useful in children with memory deficit and also prevents memory loss in old age people [R].
Relaxation, a benefit derived from the Ashwagandha’s stress-fighting effects, also improves long-term visual memory [R].
5) Ashwagandha Induces Fat Cell Death
Ashwagandha reduces fat cell viability and synthesis and also induces fat cell death [R].
Ashwagandha root extract can be used for body weight management in adults [R].
Supplementation of Ashwagandha decreased body fat percentage in people [R].
6-10) Ashwagandha Fights Infections
Ashwagandha (Withania sominifera glycoprotein) showed activity against most of the phytopathogenic fungi and bacteria tested [R].
Ashwagandha inhibited fungal growth by inhibiting spore germination and hyphal growth [R].
Ashwagandha showed potent antifungal activity against Aspergillus flavus, Fusarium oxysporum and F. verticilloides [R].
Ashwagandha showed antibacterial activity against Clvibacter michiganensis subsp. michiganensis [R].
Ashwagandha was active against Staphylococcus aureus (SA) and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) [R].
Water extract of Ashwagandha inhibited the growth of gram-negative N.gonorrhoea.
Oral administration of the water extracts successfully destroyed Salmonella infection in mice [R].
Water extract of Ashwagandha showed activity against Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (HSV-1) in cell cultures [R].
Ashwagandha root extract had antiviral property against Infectious Bursal Disease virus in cell cultures [R].
Ashwagandha might be helpful in improving the HIV-1 associated neurocognitive impairments [R].
Ashwagandha is helpful in the treatment of Leishmaniasis [R].
Alcohol and water extracts of Ashwagandha are used to treat Malaria [R].
Ashwagandha showed a parasite suppressive effect on rodent malarial parasites [R].
11-22) Anti-Cancer Activity of Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is a potent and relatively safe radiosensitizer/chemotherapeutic agent [R].
Water extract of Ashwagandha effectively increased the WBC counts in paclitaxel-induced neutropenia (abnormally low concentration of neutrophils) in chemotherapy [R].
Ashwagandha root extract significantly reduced the rate of cell division in breast tumors [R].
The alcohol extract of Ashwagandha leaves showed 98% growth inhibition of colon cancer cell lines (HCT-15) [R].
Ashwagandha leaves (Withaferin A, Withanone, Withanolide A) induced growth arrest and differentiation in brain cells and thus may help in treating Glioblastoma [R].
Ashwagandha has anticancer activity against neuroblastoma cells (IMR-32) [R].
Ashwagandha root (Withanolide sulfoxide) inhibits human stomach cancer cell lines [R].
Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) inhibited the tumor Proteosome in human prostate cancer cell cultures [R].
Ashwagandha was found effective against urethane-induced lung-adenoma in mice [R].
Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) inhibited the growth of human kidney cancer cell lines [R].
Ashwagandha was effective in treating human head and neck squamous carcinoma [R].
Long-term treatment with Ashwagandha controlled dermatosarcoma [R].
Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) inhibits cancer gene activation and mitochondrial dysfunction in skin epidermal cells [R].
Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) exhibited anticancer activity against pancreatic cell lines (targets Hsp 90) [R].
Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) is effective in the treatment and prevention of cervical cancer [R].
Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) decreased the expression of HPV cancer genes, resulting in the death of cervical cancer cells [R].
Alcoholic extract of Ashwagandha root had a protective effect against Dalton’s Ascitic Lymphoma (DAL) [R].
Ashwagandha had anti-tumor effect on Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cell carcinoma [R].
Ashwagandha slows down tumor growth and increases survival time [R].
Ashwagandha stimulates the generation of cytotoxic T lymphocytes, to reduce tumor growth [R].
23-28) Ashwagandha is Neuroprotective
Ashwagandha (metabolites of its constituents) when taken for 7 days, promoted the growth of nerves [R].
The alcohol extract of Ashwagandha promoted the formation of dendrites [R].
Ashwagandha had a potential neuroprotective role for acute stress in rats [R].
Ashwagandha root extract could be useful for the treatment of drug-induced dyskinesia (abnormality or impairment of voluntary movement) [R].
Ashwagandha also showed neurite extension in normal and damaged cortical neurons [R].
Ashwagandha (Alcoholic extract) was effective against scopolamine-induced amnesia in mouse and brain cell culture models [R].
There are several studies which show that Ashwagandha slows, stops, reverses or removes neuritic atrophy and synaptic loss [R].
Orally administered Ashwagandha (Withanoside IV) may improve neuronal dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease [R].
Ashwagandha significantly reversed ibotenic acid-induced cognitive defects in Alzheimer’s disease model [R].
Ashwagandha root extract showed an improvement in the behavioral, anatomical and the biochemical deformities in Parkinsonian mice [R].
Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
A combination herbal product containing Ashwagandha may improve attention and impulse control in children with ADHD. The effect of Ashwagandha alone is unclear.
29) Ashwagandha Promotes Heart Health
Constituents of Ashwagandha are demonstrated to exhibit a favorable “tonic” effect on the heart [R].
Ashwagandha has been found to protect the heart in different models of stress and injury
- Ashwagandha improved the cardiorespiratory endurance of elite athletes [R].
- Ashwagandha was protective against oxidative damage in isoproterenol (ISO)-induced heart attack in rats [R].
- Ashwagandha extract provides protection against doxorubicin associated toxicity of heart [R].
- Ashwagandha showed a protective effect in ischemic stroke in rats [R].
- Ashwagandha has been found protective in isoproterenol-induced ischemic rats [R].
- At 50mg/ Kg dose, it was found to be the most effective in the functional recovery of the heart in rats [R].
- Supplementation of Ashwagandha with milk is recommended for the treatment of stress-oriented hypertension [R].
30) Ashwagandha is Anti-Diabetic
Ashwagandha improved diabetes-induced testicular dysfunctions in prepubertal rats [R].
Ashwagandha could prevent glycation induced Diabetes [R].
Withaferin A is partially responsible for Ashwagandha’s anti-diabetic activity [R].
31-32) Ashwagandha Reduces Pain/Fever
Ashwagandha is a pain reliever that soothes the nervous system from pain responses [R].
Ashwagandha (1000 mg/kg/oral) produced significant pain relief for rats experiencing heat induced by hot plate method [R].
Ashwagandha reduces fever as well [R].
33-36) Ashwagandha for Women
Relieves menopausal symptoms
Ashwagandha is also effective in reducing symptoms such as hot flashes, mood fluctuations and anxiety [R].
Ashwagandha root extract stimulates thyroidal activity and also enhances the antiperoxidation of liver tissue [R].
Ashwagandha relaxes the mind and decreases anxiety, thus stabilizing the mood in patients with behavioral disturbances [R], including menopause.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Ashwagandha was one of the components of a polyherbal Ayurvedic preparation called “Testo” (at a concentration of 25 mg) which showed a significant relief in patients with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
Ashwagandha is best for treating Amenorrhoea (an abnormal absence of menstruation) [R].
Controls Uterine fibroids
Long-term treatment with Ashwagandha controlled uterine fibroids (non-cancerous growths that develop in the muscular walls of the uterus) [R].
37) Ashwagandha Improves Fertility
Mechanism: Ashwagandha can balance hormones and improve fertility by promoting relaxation and decreasing stress [R].
Ashwagandha improves the functioning of the thyroid gland, which is responsible for regulating reproductive hormones [R].
Ashwagandha is useful for treating Hypogonadism in males [R].
Ashwagandha is effective in restoring male reproductive health. It improves semen quality [R] and sex hormones in infertile men.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) plant powder for 60 days significantly improved the weights of testes, accessory sex organs in male rats. It is also effective in restoration of spermatozoa in mice [R].
Ashwagandha root extract was effective in increasing sexual competence in male rats [R].
Ashwagandha is also effective on seminal metabolites in infertile males [R].
However, in humans, ashwagandha didn’t improve erectile dysfunction of psychological origin [R].
38) Ashwagandha Reduces Autoimmune Diseases
Ashwagandha root powder reduced inflammation in a pristane-induced model of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus [R].
39) Ashwagandha Promotes Bone Health
Ashwagandha stimulates bone formation and is a bone-building agent [R].
Ashwagandha supplementation improved Calcium retention and bone calcification [R].
Ashwagandha improved bone calcification in calcium-deficient rats without ovaries [R].
40-44) Hormonal Interactions of Ashwagandha
Follicle Stimulating Hormone
Ashwagandha root extract stimulated thyroidal activity in adult male mice [R].
Ashwagandha improved metformin-induced hypothyroidism in Type 2 diabetic mice [R].
Water extract of Ashwagandha given for 20 days is effective in treating Hypothyroidism [R].
Ashwagandha also prevents Goitre (an enlarged Thyroid) [R].
45) Ashwagandha Protects the Liver
Ashwagandha significantly increases bile acid content of the liver in rats with high cholesterol [R].
Ashwagandha decreased circulating liver enzymes (Glucose-6-phosphatase), glycogen and restored them to normal levels in alloxan-induced diabetic rats [R].
Ashwagandha prevents ionizing irradiation-induced liver toxicity disorders in rats [R].
Ashwagandha is protective to the liver in rats against heavy metals [R].
46) Ashwagandha is Good for the Gut
An enema of Ashwagandha water extract is prescribed for intestinal ulcers, irritable bowel and rectal bleeding [R].
Ashwagandha also prevents constipation. Ashwagandha is used to prevent and treat Hemorrhoids (swollen veins located around the anus or in the lower rectum).
47) Ashwagandha Protects Pancreatic Cells
Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) could be incorporated as a supportive treatment to improve pancreatic transplant outcome [R].
Ashwagandha is protective against pancreatic cell damage in Type 2 diabetic rats [R].
48) Ashwagandha Protects Kidneys
Ashwagandha root extract protects the kidney from gentamycin induced toxicity [R].
Ashwagandha was an effective curative for kidney corpuscles from carbendazim-induced damage [R].
49) Ashwagandha Prevents Respiratory Problems
Two teaspoons of Ashwagandha given three times a day helps fast recovery from Bronchitis [R].
50) Ashwagandha for Skin
Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) prevents white spots on the skin (avoids the risk of hypopigmentation of skin) [R].
Ashwagandha root extracts induced skin darkening in wall lizard melanophores [R].
51) Ashwagandha May Reduce Morphine Dependence
52) Ashwagandha for Genetic Diseases
Ashwagandha was effective in the treatment of the genetic disease “Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia” (overgrowth of the adrenal gland) in 57-year-old women [R].
53) Ashwagandha Helps Muscle Growth
There was a significant increase in the body weight of rats treated with Ashwagandha when compared to the control [R].
Ashwagandha was effective in treating patients with Sarcopenia (the loss of muscle mass and strength as a result of aging) [R].
Ashwagandha appeared safe and strengthened muscle activity [R].
54) Ashwagandha For Longevity
Leaf extracts of Ashwagandha (i-Extract) have anti-aging properties [R].
It is also claimed to have potent aphrodisiac rejuvenative and life-prolonging properties [R].
55) Ashwagandha Prevents Seizures
Ashwagandha is also a component of “Siotone” granules which provide significant protection against pentylenetetrazol-, maximal electroshock- and strychnine-induced convulsions [R].
56) Ashwagandha Reduces Age-Related Cataracts
Ashwagandha was able to retard the formation of cataracts in cells [R].
Ashwagandha plant extract also prevents “diabetic cataracts”, an effect caused due to chronically high blood sugar [R].
Ashwagandha has optimum protective effect against selenite-induced oxidative damage lenses [R].
Ashwagandha is widely used to treat conjunctivitis [R].
57) Ashwagandha Protects Against Industrial Toxins
Ashwagandha leaf extract protects normal human cells against the toxicity of methoxyacetic acid (a major industrial metabolite) [R].
Ashwagandha is also shown to be effective against diesel exhaust, heavy metals, and pesticides that harm the various organ systems in the body [R].
58) Effect of Ashwagandha on Blood Cells
Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) triggers suicidal blood cell death [R].
Ashwagandha (leaves) was effective in curing Anaemia prominent in rural women in India [R].
Ashwagandha has the potential to increase red blood cells [R].
Ashwagandha root extract was found to also enhance the total White Blood Cell count [R].
59) Ashwagandha is an Effective Anti-Venom
A glycoprotein purified from Ashwagandha inhibited the hyaluronidase activity of cobra (Naja Naja) and viper (Daboi russelii) venoms [R].
Ashwagandha root in combination with other drugs is prescribed for snake venom as well as for scorpion-sting [R].
Ashwagandha is synergistic with Diazepam in protection against social isolation induced behavior in rats [R].
A combination of Maitake mushroom-derived glucan and Ashwagandha extracts have strong biological effects related to immune health and stress reduction [R].
Ashwagandha along with Anti-tubecular drugs and Chyawanprash (a multi-herbal formulation) was effective in the management of lung Tuberculosis [R].
The Root of Ashwagandha is regarded as a tonic, aphrodisiac, narcotic, diuretic, antiparasitic, astringent, thermogenic and stimulant [R]. It is an important ingredient of more than 200 formulations in traditional systems of medicine like Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani [R].
Leaves are bitter and have a characteristic odor, are recommended for fever and painful swellings [R]
The flowers are astringent, depurative, diuretic and aphrodisiac [R].
Seeds are antiparasitic [R].
In Ayurveda, berries and tender leaves are prescribed to be applied externally to tumors, tubercular glands, carbuncles, and ulcers [R].
Other useful parts are stem, fruits, and bark [R].
Active Chemical Constituents
The biologically active chemical constituents are Alkaloids (isopelletierine, anaferine), Steroidal lactones (Withanolides, Withaferins) [R].
Other components are Saponins (Sitoindoside VII and VIII), and Withanolides (sitoindoside IX and X) [R].
Ashwagandha is also known to structure a wide range of low molecular weight secondary metabolites like Terpenoids, Flavonoids, Tannins, Phenols, and Resins [R].
The extract of leaves showed the presence of Carbohydrates, Glycosidal sugars, Proteins and Amino acids.
It is also a rich source of Iron [R].
A typical dose of Ashwagandha is 3-6 gms daily of the dried root and 300-500mg of the extract [R].
Maximum benefits appear when fresh Ashwagandha powder is used [R].
Ashwagandha extract was safe when given orally up to 1500mg/kg to rats for 6 months [R].
The hydroalcoholic extract of Ashwagandha at 2000 mg/kg body weight per day had no adverse effects when given to rats and hence may be considered as non-toxic [R].
Ashwagandha is generally safe when taken in the prescribed dosage range [R].
Ashwgandha use may possibly cause hirsutism (abnormal growth of hair on women’s face) [R].
Ashwagandha is contraindicated during pregnancy since large doses may possess aborting properties.
Since Ashwagandha acts as the mild brain depressant, patients should avoid alcohol, sedative, and other anti-anxiety drugs while taking ashwagandha [R].
Since Ashwagandha has the potential to raise thyroid hormone levels, it should not be used by people with hyperthyroidism.
EBSCO, an online database, cautions that Ashwagandha is a sedative and it interacts with sedative drugs.
Buying Ashwagandha: What Joe Uses
Ashwagandha is a very gentle herb, but this also means you likely won’t feel that much with one pill. I personally need to take a few pills to feel relaxing properties.
The reason there are many different products you can purchase is because there are many types of Ashwagandha that are good.
Withanolides are the most active ingredients, so getting those in a good percentage (2.5% or more) can be good.
The best approach is to try out different brands and see which you do best with. Everyone is different.
- Inactivates the TPX2-Aurora A complex [R].
- Inhibits Proteasome [R].
- Decreased the expression of anti-apoptotic proteins Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL [R].
- Inhibits Survivin and Mortalin [R, R].
- Inhibits Hsp90 transmission [R].
- Activates Bax/Bak [R].
- Inhibits STAT 3 [R].
- Inhibits Notch-1 [R].
- Inhibits COX-2 enzyme [R].
- Suppresses the increase of acetyl-CoA carboxylase-1 [R].
- activates Notch-2, Notch-4
- Inhibits Leishmanial Protein Kinase C (LPKC) [R].
- Decreases p21 (WAF-1) protein [R].
Bone protective activity
- Decreases receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-B [R].
- Decreases expression of the E3 ubiquitin ligase, Smad ubiquitin regulatory factor 2 (Smurf2) [R].
- Increased the expression of CD4 on CD3+ T cells [R].
- Increases expression of IL-2 and IFN-gamma [R].
- Increases IL-7 [R].
Health Tools I Wish I Had When I Was Sick
At SelfHacked, it’s our goal to offer our readers all the tools possible to get optimally healthy. When I was struggling with chronic health issues I felt stuck because I didn’t have any tools to help me get better. I had to spend literally thousands of hours trying to read through studies on pubmed to figure out how the body worked and how to fix it.
That’s why I decided to create tools that will help others cut down the guesswork:
- Lab Test Analyzer – a software tool that will analyze your labs and tell you what the optimal values are for each marker — as well as provide you with actionable tips and personalized health and lifestyle recommendations to help you get there.
- SelfDecode – a software tool that will help you analyze your genetic data from companies such as 23andme and ancestry. You will learn how your health is being impacted by your genes, and how to use this knowledge to your advantage.
- SelfHacked Secrets – an ebook where we examine and explain the biggest overlooked environmental factors that cause disease. This ebook is a great place to start your journey if you want to learn the essential steps to optimizing your health.
- SelfHacked Elimination Diet course – a video course that will help you figure out which diet works best for you
- Selfhacked Inflammation course – a video course on inflammation and how to bring it down
- Biohacking insomnia – an ebook on how to get great sleep
- Lectin Avoidance Cookbook – an e-cookbook for people with food sensitivities
- BrainGauge – a device that detects subtle brain changes and allows you to test what’s working for you
- SelfHacked VIP – an area where you can ask me (Joe) questions about health topics
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.
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