Heart Disease Hypothyroidism Immune System Support Infertility Menopause Neurodegenerative Diseases Obesity Sexually Transmitted Diseases Skin Wounds Ulcers Traditional Medical Uses of Ashwagandha While it was historically domesticated as a medicinal plant in India, this herb grew and was traditionally used as a rejuvenative herb across the ancient Mediterranean countries into Palestine, Asia, and much of the Arab countries and also into Africa. 10 In historical Ayurvedic texts, the root was thought to offer the strength and sexual virility of a horse. ,11 Several African tribes also used the herb as an aphrodisiac. 20 But despite its name, which means the smell of a horse, ancient cultures knew that ashwagandha offered a lot more benefits than those referring to horse-like attributes of physical strength and virility. 6 In fact, it would be more difficult to name areas that Ayurveda suggests ashwagandha does not offer some medicinal benefit for than those it does. Some of the historical uses of ashwagandha in Ayurveda, Unani, and Middle Eastern traditional medicines included treating and disease-preventative care for:3,21-22
Aging and longevity Arthritis and other inflammatory conditions Asthma Digestive system Emaciation and failure to thrive Immune system Liver conditions Muscle and skeletal organs Reproductive organs, libido, and fertility (men and women) Sexually transmitted diseases Stamina Current Uses in Traditional Medicines Ashwagandha continues to be used for medical purposes throughout Africa and India.
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It is actually grown on a commercial scale in a number of states across India, and annual crops yield approximately 7,000 tons. 6,10
Ayurvedic practitioners in India utilize this herb to treat a number of conditions, including its use as a purgative, diuretic, and liver tonic. In Cape Verde, the leaves are prescribed as a blood-purifying tonic and as a treatment for gonorrhea. In Ethiopia, ashwagandha is used to treat epilepsy and cough, and in Madagascar it is a treatment for asthma. In South Africa, it is employed to improve female fertility, and in Somalia the roots are given to children as a remedy for nightmares. Interestingly, although it is used for fertility it is also used as an abortificant. 23
Ashwagandha can also be beneficial in personal care products for the hair and skin. Traditionally used to prevent hair loss and signs of aging skin, ashwagandha’s antioxidant, hormone-balancing, and anti-inflammatory properties may very well prove to be effective in these areas. Ashwagandha is one of the main herbs for promoting Ojas and rejuvenating the body. It is a well-known semen promoter and it treats impotency and infertility. It increases physical endurance and improves sexual function. It is a rejuvenative general tonic, which stimulates immune system. Increases physical endurance & promotes Ojas.
It is a part of many general tonics and preparations, such as Chyavana Prash. Biologically Active Constituents The known biologically-active components in ashwagandha are the following: Alkaloids. For 4000 years plant alkaloids have been used in medicine, teas, and even poisons. (13)Ashwagandha alkaloids act as antispasmodic agents in smooth-muscled organs throughout the body (i. e. , the heart, uterus, and intestines). 14 Steroidal lactones. Ashwagandha’s steroidal lactones (withanolides and withaferins) have anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, immuno-modulatory, and antioxidant effects. 4 Withaferin A has been found in both roots and leaves, and studies have shown it has potent anti-cancer properties. 15 Saponins. Known for their distinct ability to create foam, saponins are bitter plant glycosides. They are found in many foods and plants, including oats and spinach, and are known diuretics, emetics, and expectorants. 16 Iron.
One of the most abundant of the planet’s metals, iron plays an important part in the structure of key proteins and enzymes in our bodies. It is needed for cell growth, oxygen transport, overall energy levels, and strong immunity to disease. 7 Small scale human studies have shown that the high amounts of iron in ashwagandha may improve hemoglobin and red blood cell counts in adults, as well as promote growth in children. 4 Choline. Ashwagandha root also contains choline, a substance in acetylcholine, one of the brain’s neurotransmitters that play a role in cognition and memory. 18 Strikingly similar to the active constituents of ginseng, many of these components are associated with increased overall energy, improved sexual function, and greater longevity.
And yet unlike ginseng, which is a known stimulant, ashwagandha has the added benefit of being a mood-stabilizer and a mild sedative (the Latin name somnifera means sleep inducer). In a world where many of suffer from chronic anxiety and over-stimulation, this herb offers a welcome balance between overall energetic support while calming the nervous system. 6,19 How to Grow Ashwagandha Ashwagandha is easy to grow from seed. The plant has an average diameter of 9-12 inches, and grows up to 36 inches in temperate climates and up to seven feet tall in areas similar to where the countries it is native to (e. . , India) Ashwagandha prefers warmer, drier growing conditions, and should be placed in full-sun for best results. Seeds should be planted in well-drained soil about twelve inches apart. 12 The roots, which are between 2 1/2 and 6 1/2 feet in length,10 are harvested after the first frost of winter has passed. 12 In hot, dry climates ashwagandha is typically harvested 150-180 days after planting. 10 Roots are then cut into 4-inch chunks and dried Safety Medical experts caution against pregnant women using ashwagandha because it may cause loss of the fetus.
This is supported by the traditional use of ashwagandha as an abortificant. Another stated precaution is that ashwagandha may potentially increase the sedative effect of barbiturate drugs. The only report of a potentially severe adverse side effect possibly attributable to ashwagandha use was a case of sudden increase in thyroid hormone levels in a woman taking ashwagandha supplements for fatigue. Although it was once believed that ashwagandha contained nicotine, this has since been refuted. Natural Herbal Beauty with Ashwagandha