One of the most powerful herbs in Ayurvedic medicine, Ashwagandha has been used since ancient times for its many rejuvenating properties and its great restorative benefits. It is commonly used to treat a variety of illnesses and conditions. Traditionally, its leaves and fruits have been used to help strengthen the immune system and have been used for its therapeutic properties by being applied to tumors, ulcers, and carbuncles. The paste formed from powdered dried leaves has also been used in the treatment of burns and wounds.
Although it has no relation to ginseng, Ashwagandha is also known as Indian ginseng along with poison gooseberry and winter share. It is a plant in the nightshade family that contains many medicinal chemicals and properties. In western herbal medicine, the root of the Ashwagandha part is what is more commonly used. It is sold today as a dietary supplement in either powdered or pill form.
The herbal benefits of Ashwagandha have been known to support the body’s overall sense of wellbeing through energizing and rejuvenation. It helps alleviate symptoms of stress and fatigue and complete lack of energy. Ashwagandha’s healing effects are overwhelming. Along with protecting the immune system, it offers anti-inflammatory benefits, which result in the reduction of fluid retention and swelling. It can stabilize the body’s blood sugar and help lower cholesterol levels.
Ashwagandha also has anti-malarial properties and has been known to enhance sexual potency for both males and females. It has also been used in cancer treatments as an accompaniment since it reduces immunosuppression and by reducing stress and fatigue, it can ease the pain brought by chemotherapy. The benefits of Ashwagandha do not end there as it also has many mental and cognitive abilities. Beside its anti-stress and anti-anxiety effects, Ashwagandha can also improve learning and memory function.
It can help in improving concentration and decrease reaction time. It has also been known to help with sociability and has been shown to improve sleep. It also has many adaptogenic benefits. Adaptogens, such as Ashwagandha, are combinations of vitamins, herbs, and amino acids that control the body’s response to stress or any change in environments. Since it helps to improve memory formation, it has possible uses for Alzheimer’s treatment. It seems to help in the reduction of brain-cell degeneration and has overall anti-aging benefits.
The lowest effective dose that has shown to be effective simply in the relief of stress and anxiety is between 50-100mg. To avail of its many other great benefits, the lowest dose to have shown effectiveness is about 300-500mg daily. Experts recommend a dose between 600-1000mg twice each day when taking in capsule form. It may also be taken in powdered form mixed in with a drink, preferably hot milk, to alleviate some symptoms of insomnia and anxiety just before sleep.
The most optimal dose is 6000mg daily, which should be divided into 3 doses of 2000mg each in pill form. Anything over this dosage may begin to present unwanted side effects. The preferred form for taking the supplement is through the root extract, although many people use the dried herbs and leaves today in tea form. Ashwagandha is recommended to take the pill supplements with meals, and if they are taken only once a day, they should be taken early in the morning along with breakfast. For sleep, the best dose to take is between 1 and 3 grams at a time.
The Ashwagandha root is considered to be completely nontoxic with very minimal side effects. Although, excess dosages of Ashwagandha have been known to cause negative effects. High doses of Withaferin A, an anticancer molecule present in Ashwagandha, are known to be toxic. It may take quite a bit to get to a toxic level, but it is still important to be wary. Also, an excess dosage of Ashwagandha irritates the stomach and may cause upset nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Avoid taking Ashwagandha altogether if already taking blood pressure medications or any immunosuppressant to reduce excessive and dangerous effects.
Long-term use of Ashwagandha is not particularly recommended nor is it discouraged. It does not show any general long-term advantages but has mild negative effects. Long-term use of Ashwagandha might result in an overproduction of the thyroid hormone that is not beneficial for those with existing thyroid problems.
Since it also contains a good amount of iron, long-term intake of Ashwagandha can also result in excess iron intake. In addition, excessive Ashwagandha in the system as a result of long-term use may result in an overactive immune system. This situation can possibly turn into rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. For sleep, Ashwagandha can be taken long term with no real side effects.
The short-term use of Ashwagandha is generally recommended and safe. Its short-term use will yield the most desirable and positive results. Its effects in short-term use will be more beneficial than if it were to be used in longer terms. Ashwagandha for sleep is best if done in the short-term, though the long-term is still safe.
Ashwagandha has been used in the Eastern hemisphere for centuries for its herbal medicinal properties. It has also found its applications in the western world for many years as an acceptable and effective form of dietary supplement. It may be purchased in the USA legally in both powder or pill form. There are many companies that sell Ashwagandha, and many sell online. Some products are even classified as USDA certified organic.
Ashwagandha is a useful and reliable supplement, whether it is taken in pill or powder form for its cognitive benefits. It even has calming effects when consumed as a tea or other type of drink. As long as it is taken in the proper dosage, it is completely safe and nontoxic. The history of this supplement has proven its effectiveness in many forms and further research of this product can shed light on what it can do for other serious disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Using Ashwagandha for sleep is very common and as an adaptogen can help to lower cortisol levels and drop overall stress.