Ashwagandha, scientifically known as Withania somnifera, is an evergreen shrub that grows in India, the Middle East, and parts of Africa. It has a long history of use in traditional medicine. For hundreds of years, people have used the roots and orange-red fruit of ashwagandha for medicinal purposes. The herb is also known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry.
The name “ashwagandha” describes the smell of its root, meaning “like a horse.” By definition, ashwa means horse. Practitioners use this herb as a general tonic to boost energy and reduce stress and anxiety. Some also claim that the herb may be beneficial for certain cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, and anxiety.
What do people use ashwagandha for?
Ashwagandha is an important herb in Ayurvedic medicine. This is one of the world’s oldest medical systems and one of India’s healthcare systems. In Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha is considered a Rasayana. This means that it helps maintain youth, both mentally and physically.
There is some evidence to suggest that the herb can have neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammation underpins many health conditions, and reducing inflammation can protect the body against a variety of conditions.
For example, people use ashwagandha to help treat the following:
- skin conditions
Different treatments make use of different parts of the plant, including the leaves, seeds, and fruit.
This herb is gaining popularity in the West. Today, people can buy ashwagandha as a supplement in the United States.
What does ashwagandha do to the body?
Ashwagandha contains chemicals that might help calm the brain, reduce swelling, lower blood pressure, and alter the immune system. Since ashwagandha is traditionally used as an adaptogen, it is used for many conditions related to stress. Adaptogens are believed to help the body resist physical and mental stress.
Is it safe to take ashwagandha daily?
The daily therapeutic use of Ashawagandha is generally considered safe at doses that range between 250 mg and 500 mg. The safety of ashwagandha at these doses has been established with human studies. However, because of its possible drug-like effects on neurotransmission, it’s difficult to rule out unintended side-effects or a loss of potency in the long-term.
Generally, studies suggest that the effects of Ashwagandha on stress/anxiety continually improve for at least two months after the beginning of daily supplementation. Furthermore, the studies use Ashwagandha daily, and if a study finds an effect, the best way to get that same effect is to mimic the dose and dosing schedule in the study. It is unknown if taking breaks from Ashwagandha or taking it every other day will yield the same effects.
Should I Use Ashwagandha in the Morning or at Night?
Ashwagandha is best taken at night before going to bed because of its potent relaxation and sleep-enhancing benefits. Sleep plays an important role in your physical health. For example, sleep is involved in healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.
It seems to be safe, but it needs more long-term research that’s specifically designed to evaluate its safety. It may cause mild drowsiness and sedation for some people.