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Ashwagandha: Uses, Benefits & Risks

Ashwagandha: Uses, Benefits & Risks

 What’s inside this article: An overview of the adaptogenic herb ashwagandha – includes important information such as its uses, benefits, side effects, safety, potential risks, and history of the herb.

What is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha (sometimes called Indian ginseng) is an adaptogenic herb that’s been used as part of Ayurvedic medicine for over 3000 years. 

Ayurvedic medicine is one of the world’s oldest medical systems and remains part of India’s traditional health care system. 

It has several uses and may help reduce stress, improve memory, and lose weight.

Uses

Ashwagandha is used to treat a variety of health conditions. Some of its known uses include to:

  • boost the immune system after an illness
  • treat anxiety
  • boost libido
  • treat hypothyroidism
  • reduce pain from rheumatoid arthritis
  • manage gastrointestinal disorders

Benefits of Ashwagandha

Although limited scientific research is available, there are several studies that suggest the following benefits:

  • Lowers anxiety: Several studies show significant improvement in anxiety symptoms compared to the placebo group
  • For hypothyroidism:  Researchers noted clinically significant improvements in thyroid function. 
  • Weight Loss: Because of Ashwagandha’s ability to reduce stress, it may also help with weight loss. People taking Ashwagandha supplements report having fewer food cravings, less reactive eating, and increased feelings of happiness.  
  • Muscle strength and recovery: A study in the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition concluded that men taking ashwagandha and participating in resistance training showed a more significant increase in strength and muscle size after 8 weeks than the placebo group. 
  • Memory: In addition to improving overall memory, studies show ashwagandha improves executive function, attention, and processing speed.
  • Boosts libido: Ashwagandha can increase libido. It works by stimulating the production of nitric oxide and increasing the blood flow to the genitals.

Risks and Side Effects

Ashwagandha root supplements haven’t been tested for safety, mainly because dietary supplements are largely unregulated in the United States.

Consumers should be aware that some products’ content may differ from what is on the product label. 

It’s crucial to ensure when using supplements that you’re purchasing high-quality products from a trusted source.

With that said, ashwagandha root is considered safe.

Side effects may include: 

  • upset stomach and diarrhea
  • blurry vision
  • increased stomach acid
  • “giddiness”
  • elevated testosterone levels

Who Shouldn’t Take Ashwagandha?

Certain people shouldn’t use this adaptogen unless recommended by a qualified health care practitioner. 

You shouldn’t take astragalus root if you:

  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Have an autoimmune disease
  • Are taking medication for your thyroid or blood sugar
  • Are taking barbiturates or sedatives
  • Have a bleeding disorder or are on blood-thinning medication
  • Have a schedule surgery in the next 14 days

How to Take Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is available in capsules, powders, and tinctures, all of which are available in health-food stores and pharmacies specializing in natural remedies.

In alternative health practices, practitioners recommend doses ranging from 125mg to 5g. 

You should consult a knowledgeable provider to determine the appropriate dosing for you.

What to Look for Before Buying

Before you purchase any herbal supplement, carefully read the supplements facts label.

You should know the dosage amount of active ingredients per serving and look into additional ingredients like fillers or flavorings and dyes. 

overview of the adaptogenic herb ashwagandha – includes important information such as its uses, benefits, side effects, safety, potential risks, and history of the herb.

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