Ashwagandha, also known as Indian ginseng, is a plant that is native to the Indian subcontinent. It has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine and Hinduism. Ashwagandha roots are known to have large amounts of steroidal saponins and alkaloids such as withaferin A which can be used for medicinal properties such as anti-stress effects. Ashwagandha is generally divided into four categories depending on the time of flowering:
1) Early flowering plants that flower around Autumn
2) Middle flowering plants that flower mid-Summer
3) Late flowering plants that flower around Spring
4) Plants having three different times of blooming
Health Benefits of Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha has 12 benefits supported by science, they are:
1. Helps Fight Stress:
Ashwagandha is known to fight stress, in the book “Indian Herbalogy of North America" it is said to fight “Stress and anxiety, nervous tension, neurasthenia, insomnia, low vitality.”
2. Boosts the Immune System:
Since having a strong immune system is essential for good health it can help prevent diseases such as colds and flu. According to WebMD the active compounds in Ashwagandha promote healthy cell growth and function of organs such as the liver, spleen and kidneys.
3. Increases Libido:
Ashwagandha has been known to be useful for improving libido and it was even used in a study to increase the testosterone levels of rats.
4. Can Reduce the pain of arthritis:
Ashwagandha is known for its anti-inflammatory properties which may help reduce the pain associated with arthritis. According to WebMD, the anti inflammatory properties can also help reduce joint stiffness in patients.
5. Boosts Memory:
Ashwagandha has been used in many studies to improve memory and is often used in Ayurvedic medicine for Alzheimer’s disease by improving cognitive functions.
6. Ashwagandha Can Reduce Stress:
As seen above, ashwagandha helps fight stress by lowering cortisol levels and reducing fatigue and anxiety.
7. May have Antibacterial Properties :
Ashwagandha is shown to have antibacterial properties and has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for reducing joint pain, nausea and fever.
8. Has Antimicrobial Properties:
This can help prevent the growth of harmful microbes such els as candida which can be a cause of thrush or Candida albicans which is a common cause of a fungal infection such as vaginitis, athlete’s foot or ringworm. It also helps fight microbes that may cause tuberculosis or meningitis.
9. Can have Anti-Diabetic Properties:
According to a study published in 2011 in the “Journal of Enzyme Inhibition and Medicinal Chemistry”, Ashwagandha can reduce the blood glucose levels of diabetic mice without any adverse reactions.
10. May Lower Cholesterol:
According to a study published in 2011 in the “American Journal of Chinese Medicine”, ashwagandha may lower LDL cholesterol levels by reducing triglyceride levels.
11. May Reduce Symptoms of Arthritis:
Ashwagandha has been shown to improve symptoms such as joint pain and stiffness by reducing inflammation according to WebMD.
12. May Improve Bone Health:
According to a study published in the “Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine”, ashwagandha may have positive effects on preventing osteoporosis with anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce the risk of bone diseases.
The effects of Ashwagandha on Testosterone levels:
(1) Ashwagandha has been shown to increase serum testosterone levels in animal studies.
(2) Ashwagandha has been shown to increase serum testosterone levels in human studies.
(3) In one study, the effect on cyclic AMP mediated phosphorylation and nuclear translocation of tyrosine hydroxylase was measured after oral intake of ashwagandha to rats for 12 weeks. The peak testosterone level increased from 573 ng/ml during the first week to 572 ng/ml in the last week (increased by 1 ng/ml). The mean testosterone level increased from 6.3 mcg/dl during the first week to 7.
Ashwagandha and Antidepressants:
In the study done by Dr. Baba et. al, they used Reboxetine, which is an SSRI antidepressant to block the binding of serotonin molecules into the receptor sites. This approach resulted in a significant increase in serum testosterone levels.
The importance of Ashwagandha taken with Testosterone:
Ashwagandha is a steroidal alkaloid extracted from Ashwagandha roots by using chemical solvents or steam distillation. It has been seen in numerous studies that Ashwagandha and its extracts have a significant impact on testosterone levels.