You may have heard the word “ashwagandha” get thrown around the health scene lately, and no…it’s not a cool, new yoga pose…Ashwagandha, also called “Indian ginseng,” is an herb, or more like a root, that is useful for everything from adrenal health to hair growth. And although it’s most famously known as an adaptogen, it’s got plenty more tricks up its sleeve. Here are just some of the ways that ashwagandha can completely turn your health around for the better.
1. Adrenal Support
Adrenal fatigue is becoming more and more common these days, especially with the rise of technology and our modern, “go-go-go” atmosphere. Your adrenal glands, which are situated just above your kidneys, are responsible for pumping out hormones which keep your body going. These include aldosterone, cortisol, and testosterone. Aldosterone helps to maintain the body’s salt and water levels, whereas cortisol helps to regulate body metabolism. When your adrenals gets “fatigued” from a stressful life event, physical illness, or malnutrition, they’re not able to provide the body with these hormones which may cause symptoms of adrenal fatigue such as chronic tiredness, low blood pressure, weight loss, body aches, loss of body hair, and skin discoloration. Ashwagandha is known as an adaptogenic herb, meaning that it “supports” the function of the organ or gland as opposed to being a mimetic herb, which “mimics” certain hormones and chemical reactions in the body. It is recommended to take 600-1000mg twice per day to help cope with any stresses, either emotional or physical.
2. Thyroid Health
Another gland that is responsible for pumping hormones is the thyroid, and ashwagandha has been proven to stimulate thyroid function. This was proven in a 1999 study where mice were fed 1.4g of ashwagandha per kg of body weight for 20 days and results showed that the serum concentrations of T4 increased significantly in the mice. Daily doses of the root have shown to improve both an over-active and under-active thyroid. Try a teaspoon of ashwagandha powder in a cup of hot milk or milk alternative to get your daily dose in.
3. Blood Sugar Balance
In a 2000 study, Ashwagandha powder was administered to human subjects daily for 30 days. A significant decrease in blood glucose levels was observed, comparable to that of an oral hypoglycemic drug. That’s pretty impressive! If you experience symptoms of low blood sugar or hypoglycemia — you might want to give ashwagandha a try.
4. Hair Growth
Ashwagandha is known to aid in stress-related hair loss caused by too much cortisol being pumped out of the adrenals. This is why hair loss is commonly associated with stressful life events or any kind of prolonged stress to the body. In a recent study, ashwagandha was tested against hair loss in human subjects over a 60-day period. 125 mg of the root was taken each day and at the end of the 60 days, there was a 14.5% reduction in cortisol that was observed in the test subjects. Try blending up a spoonful of ashwagandha powder in your morning smoothie for an easy way to boost your hair health.
5. Sex Drive
Ashwagandha is key for a healthy sex life and if you’ve been feeling a little “meh” in bed lately, it might be time to bring a little bit of this root into your daily rotation. In a study, 50 women were given 300mg of ashwagandha root twice per day for 8 weeks. It was no surprise that the SFI (sexual function index) dramatically increased in the ashwagandha group versus the placebo group. It was also observed that the female group who took the ashwagandha had lower scores on the FSDS (female sexual distress scale), which measures worry and distress related to sexual activity. But it’s not just women who are seeing results. Ashwagandha was also tested in infertile men. In the study, 180 infertile men were given 5g of ashwagandha powder per day for 3 months. Sperm concentration and motility improved dramatically in all test subjects. Sounds pretty promising!