What is Ashwagandha Root?
Ashwagandha (withania somnifera), which is often also called indian ginseng and winter cherry, is an evergreen shrub that grows throughout India, The Middle East and parts of Africa. The shrub has a history of use dating back over 3,000 years, with it being one of the most prominent herbs used in traditional Ayurveda medicine treatments. Ayurveda is a natural system of medicine that originated in India. Loosely translated as knowledge of life, the practice is based on the idea that disease is due to an imbalance or stress in a person’s consciousness and focuses on lifestyle changes and natural therapies to regain balance in a person’s life.
Ashwagandha has generally been taken in a fine powder form, as the root will simply be dried and ground, forming an easy to use powder that can be either taken in capsules or added to drinks and smoothies. More recently we have seen the formulation of concentrated ashwagandha root extracts, which aim to further harness the power of specific chemicals that are thought to be responsible for the plants healing properties. Whichever way you choose to add ashwagandha to your diet, we are here to help you understand just some of the benefits that may be available from this astonishing shrub.
Why do people use Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, meaning that it helps your body to resist stressorsof all kinds, be it physical, chemical or biological. Its anti stressing activities have been studied in some detail, in a number of trials, with a 2019 double blind human trial showing significant improvements in stress and anxiety levels, along with improved sleep in patients given an eight week course of concentrated ashwagandha extract.
Whilst the root is used to treat a host of diseases and ailments, the most common and widely established reason for ashwagandha root use is for general daily support in the reduction of stress and anxiety. It has a clearly shown pathway of reducing stress, along with having a number of human trials, which back up its efficiency.
Why the recent broader interest in Ashwagandha?
In Ayurveda, Ashwagandha has been used for thousands of years, as a tonic to promote a host of health benefits, including; anti-aging, anti-inflammation and mood elevation, however its action on the human body and so its true potential is only now being unlocked. With a recent focus on using natural supplemets over pharmaceutical medications, much of the current interest in ashwagandha comes from it’s high concentration of withanolides, which have been shown to work within the treatment of a host of different diseasesstyle=”font-weight: 400;”>, ranging from autoimmune/inflammatory disorders, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and neurobehavioral/psychiatric diseases.
- Potential anti-cancer properties
Several animal and test tube studies have shown that with anolides helpinduce apoptosis (the programmed death of cancer cells), whilst impeding the growth of new cancer cells. Further animal studies have shown that the chemical may be useful in the treatment of a range of cancers, including; breast, lung, colon, brain, and ovarian cancer.
- Reduction of inflammation
Inflammation is linked to and can often be found to be the root cause of a number of nasty diseases, including heart disease, cancer, arthritis and Crohn’s disease. Several animal studies, along with a small number of human trials, to support this evidence, have shown ashwagandha to be effective in decreasing inflammation, whilst increasing the action of Natural Killer Cells, which protect the body from infections. It has even been shown to be effective in decreasing specific markers of inflammation, such as CRP (C-reactive protein), which has been linked to anincreased risk of heart disease.
- Reduction of cholesterol levels
Another health protecting benefit of ashwagandha comes from its potential to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Animal studies and even some human studies have also shown a reduction in the two, even if not as strongly in animals. One 60 day study on chronically stressed adults showed a 17% decrease in LDL (bad) cholesterols and an 11% decrease in triglycerides in groups taking the highest dose of ashwagandha extract.
Ashwagandha at Greenhaus
At Greenhaus our aim is always to bring you the best possible product on the market. As such, we have currently only chosen to stock an ashwagandha extract tincture, for internal consumption as we believe this is the best possible way to receive the active chemicals contained within the plant. We do however also stock a moisturising cream containing ashwagandha, amongst other adaptogens.
Nikki Hill is a fully qualified Naturopath, Clinical Nutritionist and Medical Herbalist, who looks for natural solutions that help improve your overall health. The Organic Ashwagandha Root Tincture comes in a 100ml bottle, containing a high concentration of 500mg of herbal extract/1ml of tincture. The tincture is the perfect way to keep the stresses and anxiety of daily life at bay.
Osena London have created a deeply nourishing and soothing cream, containing a blend of plant extracts and adaptogens to replenish and support your skin, whilst protecting against the effects of daily stressors. The moisturising cream comes in a recyclable 50ml jar, containing both ashwagandha root and cordyceps mushrooms.