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Ashwagandha Dosage Benefits and Side Effects

Ashwagandha is a dietary supplement known by the botanical name withania somnifera. Also known as Indian ginseng, this powerful herb used in Ayurvedic medicine as a way similar to the use of ginseng in traditional Chinese medicine. Alkaloids, saponins, steroidal lactones and withanolides are thought to be the biologically active components of ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is often compared to Asian ginseng which contain molecules like withanoloids called ginsenosides.

Ashwagandha Benefits

Ashwagandha has good impressive adaptogenic properties. Adaptogens support the ability of an organism to cope with stress and thereby conserve energy. According to a large of research, components in ashwagandha possess tonic, anti-inflammatory, immune enhancing aphrodisiac anxiety relieving and nerve sedative properties. Ashwagandha is rich in antioxidants, such as catalase, glutathione and superoxide dismutase. This antioxidant effect partly explains its other effects like anti-aging, anti-stress, anti-inflammatory and cognition facilitation. Ashwagandha is known to have a positive effect on hormones and it helps the thyroid gland to increase the secretion of the hormone. The studies do not reveal selectively its effect on T3 or T4, but the levels of both T3 and T4 go up with high quality supplementation of ashwagandha.

Immune System

Ashwagandha increases the count of white blood cells and prepares the body to produce antigens against various infections and allergies. A number of studies have shown significant increases in white blood cell counts and other measures of strengthened immunity in rodents given ashwagandha or certain chemicals extracted from the herb. Animal studies published in 1994 confirmed that ashwagandha’s withanolides stimulate lymphocytes, which are immune system cells. In a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study in healthy men aged 50-59 years, red blood cell counts and hemoglobin level were significantly increased.

Cancer

Ashwagandha is reported to have anti-carcinogenic effects in animal and cell cultures by decreasing the expression of nuclear factor-kappaB, suppressing intercellular tumor necrosis factor and potentiating apoptotic signalling in cancerous cell lines. Published in 2007, another study on human cells shows that ashwagandha may inhibit tumor growth without harming normal cells. In another study, orally administered ashwagandha extract significantly inhibited experimentally induced stomach cancer in laboratory animals. A recent analysis showed that ashwagandha extract inhibit the growth of human breast, lung, and colon cancer cell lines in the laboratory. Other studies on mice have found that administering an alcohol extract of Ashwagandha caused the total tumor remission in 25% of animals and more than 50% reversal of tumor growth in 63% of the animals.

Inflammation

An application of the leaves when applied on an inflammation acts as anti inflammatory. Several withanolides exert selective COX-2 enzyme inhibition and withania has been found to decrease alpha-2-macroglobulin, a liver-synthesised plasma protein that increases during inflammation. Findings of a more up-to-date study published in the October 2004 issue of the ‘Journal of Clinical Rheumatology‘ show that ashwagandha reduces knee pain in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Animal studies have found that naturally occurring steroids in ashwaganda are more potent than treatment with the synthetic steroid hydrocortisone for controlling inflammation.

Anxiety

Latest researches reveal that Ashwagandha, if given in proper dose, can restore the neurotransmitters and hence can be useful in various mental disorders. A 2009 randomized controlled clinical trial found that ashwagandha helps to treat anxiety. In a trial, 30 patients suffering from anxiety neurosis were administered a dose of 40 ml per day for a month. The research concluded that most of anxiety symptoms, panic attacks and phobia were significantly relieved. Oral administration of ashwagandha for 5 days suggested anxiety-relieving effects similar to those achieved by the anti-anxiety drug lorazepam (Ativan), and antidepressant effects similar to those of the prescription antidepressant drug imipramine (Tofranil). A study done at the Department of Pharmacology, University of Texas Health Science Center indicated that extracts of Ashwagandha produce GABA-like activity, which may account for the herb’s anti-anxiety effects.

Nerves and Memory

Ashwagandha has been shown to support the regeneration and reconstruction of nerve cells and synapses. In one human clinical study, ashwagandha improves overall mental aptitude and reaction time. Ashwagandha could prevent memory deficit and cognitive impairment by inhibiting degeneration of neurons and repairing the damaged neurons. Experimental studies suggest that Ashwagandha root extract might help to reconstruct the damaged neuronal network. Several animal studies indicate the potential for protection of neurons, including protection from neuronal injury in Parkinson’s disease  and promotion of dendrite formation.

Sexual Performance

Research shows that ashwagandha has an aphrodisiac effect and improves sexual performance. The root extract is used in impairment in libido, sexual performance, vigor, and penile erectile dysfunction. Its most active compounds, alkaloids and withanoloids enhance longevity and possess sexually stimulating properties. One double-blind clinical trial found that a dose of 3 g taken daily for 1 year improved the sexual performance of 71.4% of healthy aging males.

Ashwagandha Dosage

Take 1-2 capsules of Ashwagandha twice a day, after meals. Ayurvedic practitioners may recommend 500 to 2000 milligrams of ashwagandha root powder daily.

Side Effects

Side effects large doses of Ashwagandha can cause abdominal discomfort and diarrhea. May potentiate the sedative effect of barbiturates. In extremely large doses, ashwagandha has been reported to induce abortions in animals. Taking ashwagandha with thyroid hormone pills might cause too much thyroid hormone in the body, and increase the effects and side effects of thyroid hormone. No one with an autoimmune disease should use the product without express consent from their doctor.


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