Ashwagandha: Australia’s best kept secret

Ashwagandha has been a well-known medicinal herb in Indian culture for almost 6,000 years. Now, the secrets of this magical herb are being explored throughout the world by scientist looking to identify and promote the health benefits of Ashwagandha.

Ashwagandha comes from the Withania Somnifera plant and is otherwise known as Indian ginseng, poison gooseberry, or winter cherry. Over the years, the plant has been used regularly in herbal remedies for its ability to reduce stress, fight cancer and inflammation, increase brain function, lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of depression, and balance hormones.

Stress-buster

Ashwagandha is commonly used to help combat stress and tension.

Two of the key components of the plant, withaferin A and withanolide A, have been proven in numerous studies to help block nerve receptors in the brain, which transfer feelings of stress. This means that even small amounts of Ashwagandha can result in you feeling more relaxed.

Studies performed on adults found that those who took Ashwagandha twice per day reported an 88% decrease in stress levels and emotional strain. People who regularly take Ashwagandha also reported fewer moments of feeling anxious and panicked. The Ashwagandha acted to regulate and restrict cortisol levels in the brain. Cortisol is the main stress hormone in the human body.

Cortisol is responsible for the feeling of stress but also reacts throughout the body to disrupt normal bodily functions. Using Ashwagandha to lower cortisol levels will also prevent further symptoms of stress, such as digestive issues, insomnia, and migraines.

Elevated levels of cortisol have been linked increased blood sugar levels and also promotes the storage of fat around the stomach area. A side effect of Ashwagandha to lower levels of cortisol is the loss of excess weight stored around your middle.

Summary

Studies show the Ashwagandha plant can help control cortisol levels, which contribute to feeling stressed.

 

Lowers Cholesterol

As well as having a direct effect on the levels of cortisol in your brain, Ashwagandha has also been proven effective at lowering levels of cholesterol. Studies show that consuming Ashwagandha regularly can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels by around 50%.

A separate study found nearly a 20% decrease in bad cholesterol across 60 participants. This means that regularly consuming Ashwagandha can help lower your risk of a heart disease and heart failure. 30% of all deaths in Australia are caused by complications created by having high cholesterol. Actively seeking products that can help lower cholesterol could save your life.

Summary

Consuming the plant daily can decrease cholesterol, minimizing your risk of heart disease and heart failure.

 

Anti-Inflammatory properties help the immune system

Another crucial way in which Ashwagandha can help reduce your risk of heart disease is its anti-inflammatory properties. There is plenty of scientific proof that it can help increase the activity of the natural cells in your body, which fight inflammation, disease and infection, and keep your immune system healthy.

A healthy immune system can help minimise feelings of fatigue and lower your chances of getting ill. Regular consumption of Ashwagandha tea has proven to be effective at increasing the number of killer cells in the bloodstream within 96 hours.

The anti-inflammatory effects of the plant can also decrease the number of C-reactive proteins in the body which can cause heart disease. Consuming Ashwagandha on a daily basis can promote a healthy immune system and encourage the body to produce effective killer cells that fight infection and inflammation in the body.

Summary

Scientific studies show that Ashwagandha has strong anti-inflammatory properties that contribute to a healthy immune system.

 

Fight depression

Ashwagandha is also commonly used as a way to minimise feelings of depression. The plant can do this in several ways. Firstly, by relieving feelings of stress and anxiety, which can result in depression. Clinically-diagnosed depression is commonly treated with chemical medication. Using an herb is a gentled, kinder, more natural way to treat feelings of depression.

Studies have shown that Ashwagandha can reduce feelings of emotional distress and depression by as much as 79% over a period of two months. The plant can help regulate cortisol levels, which cause stress, anxiety, and depression. While the plant can alleviate feelings of depression, it can’t increase levels of happiness. This is because scientists consider the plant to be an adaptogen, meaning it helps combat stress and depression.

Summary

Studies have proven that a small dose of the plant can help minimize feelings of distress, anxiety, and depression.

 

Balance hormones – Men and Menopausal Women

The Ashwagandha plant is also widely known for its ability to balance hormones and increase fertility. Parts of the plant affect the enzymes in the reproductive system of men which can result in an increase in fertility. Studies of infertile men found that one in 75 men had greatly increased chances of conceiving. In Australia, 30% of infertility problems are due to the man’s reproductive health and another 30% is due to both partners.

As well as increasing fertility, Ashwagandha is also used to help menopausal women. The plant helps to stabilize testosterone levels which can increase a women’s sex drive and relieve symptoms of menopausal and perimenopausal women. Consuming just a small amount of the herb each day can minimise hot flushes, eight gain, headaches, irregular bowel movements and sleeping problems.

Scientific research shows an average improvement of 75% in the quality of life of menopausal women. Its anti-inflammatory properties help reduce the discomfort of hot flushes and can calm the central nervous system by inhibiting the production of the COX-2 enzyme.

Summary

Ashwagandha is well known as a hormone-balancing herb. By balancing hormones, the plant can help increase fertility in men and combat symptoms of the menopause.

 

Fight cancer

Scientists are now looking at the ways in which Ashwagandha can also help fight the growth of cancerous cells in the body. Studies have shown that when consumed regularly, Ashwagandha helps to encourage apoptosis, which kills cancer cells. By preventing the spread of cells, the plant can be used to prevent the spread of existing cancers to other areas of the body.

In addition to preventing the growth and spread of cancerous cells within the body, the plant is known to affect the chondroblasts in cartilage. This helps prevent tumours from forming.  Several studies have been performed to analysis how effective the herb is at treating and preventing breast, brain, ovarian, colon and lung cancer. All studies have been positive and shown no major side effects.

Summary

Tests have shown that the plant can stop the growth and spread of cancerous cells.

 

Improve brain functions and memory

Ashwagandha is widely used in medicine to treat loss of brain function or long-term memory. While the plant can help increase brain functions, it is especially effective at helping recover brain functions and memories lost via disease or accidents.

The herb has properties that help promote antioxidants, thereby protecting the brain cells from damage and decay. The oxidative stress on the cells causes you to be forgetful and lose concentration and brainpower. Consuming small amounts of the plant daily is thought to reverse the oxidative stress, and help the brain function normally.

Studies have shown that reaction time, focus, attention span and performance improved when taking Ashwagandha.

Summary

Scientists have performed several tests that show that the herb can improve long-term memory. It can also improve focus, attention span, and attentiveness.

 

Ashwagandha: Side Effects

Ashwagandha is a powerful plant, which is why it has been used for millennia in herbal medicines across the world. While the plant is excellent for menopausal women and infertile men because of its effects on testosterone, it is not advised for pregnant women to consume Ashwagandha.

During pregnancy, the plant can change the bodies natural hormones which can result in menstruation and miscarriage. While the plant can give a boost to the mother and improve her health, it will not do the same for the baby. Pregnant mothers traditionally used the plant for energy and vitality. Still, modern medicine suggests safer ways of improving the mother's health that doesn’t risk the unborn child.

Aside from a small risk to pregnant women, there are very few side effects when consuming Ashwagandha on a daily basis. Excess consumption can result in digestive issues, including nausea, constipation, and diarrhoea.

Additionally, as the plant can have a major influence on your hormones, especially cortisol, anyone suffering from an illness affecting their adrenal glands, may find additional benefit or additional side effects. If you have an illness which effects your hormones or hormone production, Ashwagandha may be very helpful or harmful depending on your illness. You should consult with your doctor before taking any.

Anyone with an autoimmune disease should also consult a doctor before consuming any food or drink which has the plant as an ingredient.  Because the plant has such strong effects on hormones and cholesterol levels, if you are on existing medication, you should check with your doctor. The pant is so effective, you may need to have your dosage changed.

Frequently Asked Questions 

1.     Can Ashwagandha help me beat depression?

Yes! The plant is known to be an adaptogen meaning it can help block the transmitters of stress and depression in the body. It can also help control the levels of the cortisol hormone, which is responsible for stress and depression. Of course, for medically-diagnosed depression, always consult your doctor. 

2.     Is Ashwagandha good for fertility?

The Ashwagandha plant is proven to help regulate the hormone testosterone. Studies have found that infertile men benefit from taking Ashwagandha daily to boost testosterone levels and increase fertility. 

3.     Can men use Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is safe for both men and women. For men, it is a great way to increase testosterone, boost fertility and promote a healthy immune system. 

4.     Can I drink Ashwagandha when pregnant?

Because Ashwagandha is good at balancing hormones, it is not wise to consume it during pregnancy, especially in the early stages. The plant can cause menstruation and, if consumed while pregnant, can result in a miscarriage.

However, once the baby has been born, Ashwagandha can help provide energy, lower stress levels, and encourage regular milk production. 

5.     Will Ashwagandha help me lose weight?

Yes, with lower stress levels, the body is able to stop storing fat around the stomach and with an increased metabolism, can burn any existing fat. Ashwagandha is particularly effective for people’s look to lose weight from their stomach. 

6.     Where does Ashwagandha come from?

The Withania somnifera plant is a small plant native to India, the Middle East and some part of Northern Africa. The oldest use of the plant in medicinal remedies dates back to 6000 years ago in India. 

7.     How long does Ashwagandha take to work?

The plant may take up to two weeks to have a full effect on the body and create lasting results. However, you should start to feel less stressed and see fewer menopausal symptoms within the first few days. 

8.     What does Ashwagandha taste like?

The plant itself has a bitter, earthy taste. Many comment that it has a similar taste to Matcha. It is a strong, bold flavour which pairs well with chocolate, coffee, nuts, peppermint and orange. 

9.     Does Ashwagandha help with the menopause?

Yes, Ashwagandha is well-known for helping relieve the symptom of menopause. Hot flushes, headaches, hormonal swings, insomnia and weight gain can all be minimised by consuming just a small amount of the plant every day. 

10.  Does Ashwagandha help with stress?

Very much! Ashwagandha has been proven to lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Additionally, the plant can help block receptors in your brain which pass the stress feelings around your body leaving you feeling relaxed and calm. 

Consuming Ashwagandha

There are lots of different ways to consume Ashwagandha to get the health benefits. These include drinking tea form the plant, consuming the powder made form the ground roots and synthetic capsules. The benefits of the plant are so numerous that it is a fairly common supplement and can be found in most health-food stores and online. However, some ways of ingesting the herb are more effective, and tastier than others!

Ashwagandha Capsules

Capsules are ideal for people who want a quick, easy way to take the tablet and do not like the taste. Most capsules or tablets use synthetic substances to bind the herb together. The capsules are designed to be a powerful hit of the benefits of the plant. However, such a concentrated form of the herb cannot easily be digested by the body, so many of the benefits will pass through undigested. However, the capsules are normally blended with another herb or plant to give additional benefits.

Ashwagandha Root powder

The ground powder of the root of the plant is generally considered to be one of the healthiest parts of the plant. The root is ground into a fine powder which can be added to foods and drinks to achieve the health benefits. The powder is rarely mixed with other ingredients. Due to the earthy taste, its powder is normally mixed with other strong tastes such as cocoa, coffee, and nuts.

Generally, the root powder is mixed into hot chocolate or coffee. Adding a dash of hazelnut syrup to coffee, milk, and Ashwagandha powder makes a delicious morning drink if you don’t like tea.

Ashwagandha Tea

Perhaps the most popular way of consuming Ashwagandha is in tea form. The brewed plant has a delicious, bold, earthy taste. By brewing the dried plant in hot water, all the nutrients and minerals in the plant are kept fresh and then released into the tea. The plant has a strong taste, so the leaves only need to be brewed for a few minutes.

Our Hormone Balance Tea Équilibre is blended with other ingredients to emphasize the taste of the Ashwagandha.

Our tea is blended with orange, Honeybush, and peppermint for a great taste and added benefits. Right now, you can use code ONEFREE when you buy two teas to get a third for free.

Drinking the tea is a great way to reap the benefits of the plant and enjoy a relaxing drink. We recommend treating yourself to a square of dark chocolate at the same time.

This not only complements the earthy taste of the plant, but can also help lower your risk of heart disease.

Because Ashwagandha is a very medicinally powerful plant, it is not recommended that you consume more than two cups of Ashwagandha tea per day.

Summary

Overall, scientific studies have shown that consuming Ashwagandha tea on a daily basis can increase fertility in men, regulate hormones, fight stress and anxiety, improve your immune system, and fight the symptoms of menopause.

Additionally, several studies suggest it may help fight cancer by preventing the spread of cancerous cells. The natural compounds in the tea can also help improve brain function for better long-term memory.

The health benefits of Ashwagandha are so potent that it is not recommended for pregnant ladies as it can cause miscarriage. Unlike other herbal tea, it has a definite impact on men and women as it can regulate hormones, including testosterone.

Our Hormone Balance Tea Équilibre is formulated using a tried and tested blend of herbs, including Ashwagandha, for a great taste and extra benefits.

Have you started drinking Ashwagandha, and noticed changes to your health?

We’d love to hear about your journey using Ashwagandha so please get in touch.

Did Ashwagandha help you lose weight? Or is it helping you through the difficult menopause?

Let us know, and you might inspire someone else to change their life too.

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