The earliest known mention of Ashwagandha was in the Rig Veda, compiled around 6,000 BC. It's native to India and has been called the King of Ayurvedic herbs and is sometimes referred to as Indian ginseng. In Sanskrit, ashwagandha translates to "the smell of a horse" some say this means that this herb may impart the vigour and strength of a stallion. This herb is versatile, potent and has a long list of benefits.
1) Helps to fight stress
Ashwagandha is classed as an adaptogen which means it can help your body manage stress and promote or restore normal physiological functioning. Studies have shown that ashwagandha may help reduce cortisol levels. In one study using chronically stressed adults, those who supplemented with ashwagandha had significantly greater reductions in the level of cortisol compared with the control group. Those taking the highest dose, on average, experienced a 30% reduction.
In a 60-day study with sixty four people with chronic stress, those that supplemented with ashwagandha reported a 69% reduction in anxiety and insomnia compared with 11% in the placebo group.
This is a powerful stress fighting herb.
2) Improving brain health
Experts say that ashwagandha can improve memory, decrease oxidative brain stress and help prevent nerve cell degeneration. Some of the ways it does this is by reducing anxiety, improving sleep and since it's natural relaxant the reduction in stress can improve cognitive function.
Many of these benefits are attributed to its high concentration of withanolides which have been shown to improve cognitive function. It also helps with attention building, information processing speed and overall mental skills. In two small studies, ashwagandha has been shown to improve reaction time and social cognition.
3) Enhancing strength
Ashwagandha stimulates nitric oxide production by regulating blood flow and pressure of the arterial system. Increased blood flow is good for cognitive ability and the nitric oxide theoretically could lead to enhanced muscle pump, better endurance, and faster recover. Ashwagandha helps increase testosterone levels and significantly boosts sperm quality and fertility in men. In another study, those who took ashwagandha had significantly greater gains in muscle strength and size. It also more than doubled their reductions in body fat percentage, compared with the placebo group.
For endurance and resistance training, this herb is truly a win. It helps with rest, recovery, energy and the brain.