Ashwagandha Benefits and Side Effects

Written by Vincent
Medically reviewed by Nikhil Kapoor, BS Pharm
Fact checked by Victor Cheung

Ashwagandha which is profoundly known as the winter cherry or Indian Ginseng is a medicinal plant that is greatly used in Ayurveda. Its scientific name is “Withania somnifera” and it belongs to the kingdom of Plantae. It is also taken in the form of a dietary supplement in many countries due to its many benefits. It is mostly grown in the regions of the Middle East, India, and parts of Africa. It is a short and evergreen shrub that is substantially used in traditional medicine. It is a tender shrub that is 35 to 75 cm tall. It has small, green, and bell-shaped flowers and bright orange-red fruit. Its ripe fruit and roots are used as an ingredient for various medicines for a hundred of years.  

Its name is kept based on its roots. Its roots smell like a horse which is ‘Ashwagandha’ in Sanskrit. Here, ‘ashwa’ means horse, and ‘gandha’ means smells like. In Latin the species ‘somnifera’ means sleep-inducing. Studies have shown that this herb as a tonic is used as an energy booster that also reduces stress and anxiety.  

100 gm of Ashwagandha is deduced to have 1 percent Calcium, Dietary Fiber 1 g, Iron 7%, Sodium 1 mg, Selenium 5 g, and total Carbohydrates 2 g.

Benefits of Ashwagandha

Anxiety and Depression

The wonder plant Ashwagandha is proven to be useful in anxiety and depression disorders. It was found in research that they have nerve-calming properties that help reduce anxiety. It helps with agoraphobia also which means anxiety in crowded places. 

Arthritis

The anti-arthritic properties of Ashwagandha are known widely. It has calming effects on the nervous system of our body. Thus, it helps in relieving pain by soothing CNS (Central Nervous System). It is also found that consuming an herbal concoction of Ashwagandha reduced the severity of pain in Arthritis and even Rheumatoid Arthritis. It is useful to protect joint cartilage and also contains some anti-inflammatory properties. Arthritis is a disability that has serious impacts on the whole body. So, it is recommended to consult a doctor for further treatments.

Erectile Dysfunction

The sexual life of men gets disrupted due to many conditions like stress, lifestyle disorders, or organ malfunctioning. When the male sex organ is deprived of blood flow due to cortisol (stress hormones), there is a disruption in the strong erection. So, these problems may create difficulties in maintaining his healthy sexual life. Ashwagandha has been known to naturally treat this problem as it dilates the blood vessels and also improves blood circulation in the body after stimulation of the production of nitric acid.

Hair Loss

The hair masks prepared using Ashwagandha powder are an awesome remedy for stress hair loss. There is proof that it improves the scalp’s grip and strengthens hair roots. The ashwagandha has magical impacts on the melanin content of hair and stops the precursors of premature graying of hair. Hence, it promotes restorative sleep that reduces the stress levels of the body. Ashwagandha is also added to many shampoos that facilitate the growth of hair at the follicular level.

Healthy Skin

The skin is the largest gland of our body that needs healthy routines. Ashwagandha roots are known to have anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties that benefit the skin of every individual. It has the properties of reducing sebum production and controlling acne. The skin shows a natural glow when the skin care products have Ashwagandha extracts in them. They keep skin infections at bay and delay skin aging. Drinking Ashwagandha powder in a concoction of hot water has been known to boost collagen in the skin and prevents fine facial lines.

Immunity Booster

Our body shows signs of infection and diseases in every phase of life. The consumption of Ashwagandha tea added with drops of lemon juice improves the immunity system. It helps the body to endure a lot of cellular damage and recovers the cellular damage to a great extent. The powder of this useful plant has antioxidants and increases immune cell activity. 

Weight Gain

The powder of Ashwagandha root added with ghee is proven to increase body weight. The principle of using this power plant to increase body mass depends on the excess calories imparted by its consumption. Young men looking to improve their muscle mass can use the nutrition properties of Ashwagandha to look robust as they have healthy fats and high-calorie content.

Lowers Blood Pressure

Ashwagandha has chemicals to lower blood pressure naturally. Its regular consumption is said to have properties that calm brain and reduce stress.

Side Effects of Ashwagandha

Intake of ashwagandha can also have some side effects of which you need to take care. 

  • Drowsiness and Nausea: taking ashwagandha for the first time can sometimes result in sleepiness in the body but it can reduce over time. To avoid these circumstances you can take ashwagandha after a meal or before your bedtime. This can mainly happen if you overdose.
  • Upset Stomach: people with sensitive stomachs should avoid taking raw ashwagandha and is preferred to take it in fewer amounts with other herbs and food items. High ashwagandha indulgence can also lead to vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Medication problems: try to consult with your doctor before intaking this herb as this can interfere with various medicines. It can reduce the effect of medicines you are taking now. So you should confer with the doctor so you don’t have any health problems afterward. 
  • Swelling: if you have any inflammatory conditions or muscular degeneration problems, you should prevent taking ashwagandha. This is because it increases the immune system and therefore inflates the cells. This can cause severe health problems if not treated in time.
  • Body temperature: monitoring yourself after taking ashwagandha in your routine is very important as ashwagandha will infer with your body temperature. If your temperature fluctuates a lot then you should consider discussing it with your doctor. It is advisable to immediately stop taking it.

Conclusion

Ashwagandha is a traditional medicine that has taken part in curing various ailments. It is an ingredient that is still used in many natural medicines as well as ayurvedic ones. But the excessive intake of its powder in unprescribed quantities may pose risk to the internal body system.

References

1. Does Ashwagandha Lower Blood Pressure – HealthyBpClub.com

2. Ashwagandha: Uses, Benefits & Side Effects – PharmEasy Blog

3. Ashwagandha — Health benefits, dosage, safety, side-effects, and more | Supplements – Examine

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