Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) has been used for thousands of years in Ayurveda as a rejuvenating tonic, also known as Indian Ginseng, Indian Winter Cherry, or asgandh. It flourishes as a weed with ovate leaves, greenish-yellow flowers, and reddish-orange berries in parts of the Indian sub-continent.
This ‘King of Herbs’ enjoys a special place in Ayurveda as a potent Rasayana (rejuvenating tonic). A Rasayana, in simple words, is a substance that can provide nutrition to all levels of the human body and has a significant impact on the function of the endocrine and nervous systems. As an adaptogenic, ashwagandha benefits the body’s physical, emotional, and psychological stress response.
It should come as no surprise then that ashwagandha also enhances performance, improves sexual function, and boosts physical strength/stamina. However, it would be unfair to facilitate such a powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory herb to an oversimplified category.
Benefits Of Ashwagandha
Stress Reduction: In Ayurveda, all Rasayana herbs are adaptogenic (anti-stress) in nature. Ayurveda has recognized these properties of the herb for thousands of years. Recent scientific research also supports that Ashwagandha significantly affects the body’s stress response, brain function, and nervous system. It reduces the adrenal cortisol and ascorbic acid levels in the body and reduces stress.
Longevity: Ashwagandha helps the body cope with weakness from aging, and joint problems like rheumatic arthritis. It benefits general age-induced debility of the mind and body as well. Ayurveda calls it a Rasayana – an anti-aging elixir that improves life expectancy and keeps old age-related problems at bay. According to Ayurveda, Vata dosha naturally increases in the body as we age. Therefore, Ashwagandha balances Vata dosha, manages blood pressure, and aids the body in sustaining vitality.
Immunity: Ashwagandha has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that increase the body’s response and defense against diseases by enhancing cell-mediated immunity. It also helps combat stress and regulates endocrine function, which can play a vital role in immunity.
Sleep Disorders: Ashwagandha has mildly sleep-inducing properties when consumed with milk an hour before bedtime. It also reduces stress and anxiety, thus indirectly improving the quality of sleep and regeneration.
Sexual function: One of the eight branches of Ayurveda deals with Vajikarana (Aphrodisiac therapy, fertility, and conception). It is highly revered in this branch as a powerful tonic to maintain and enhance sexual function. Ashwagandha acts as an aphrodisiac and supports the proper function of adrenals. It also indirectly improves sexual function by increasing testosterone levels and improving endurance. Ayurveda describes it as ati shukrala, which enhances the quality and quantity of semen. It is also helpful in erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and improving sexual performance.
Ashwagandha Tonic: Steep ½ teaspoon of Ashwagandha powder in one cup of water for ten minutes. Let it cool down and consume it when it is slightly warmer than room temperature. You may add honey or lemon to improve the taste.
Ashwagandha For Stress: For a good night’s sleep, add dried Ashwagandha powder to milk (2 cups) and boil until it reduces to half the quantity (1 cup). Common combinations to improve taste include steeping Ashwagandha + licorice (in equal ratio) or adding a pinch of cardamom powder and cinnamon powder. Add honey for flavor when the drink cools down to room temperature (tepid).
Ashwagandha + Ghee (clarified butter): The ancient herb Ashwagandha benefits as an aphrodisiac that works wonders for your sexual health. It’s combined with the natural fat content in Ghee to improve both libido and mood while also increasing desire during intercourse or sex! Add 2 to 3 grams of Ashwagandha root powder along with Ghee (clarified butter) and consume daily.
Ashwagandha + Sesame Oil: Make a paste by adding ½ teaspoon of Ashwagandha powder to sesame oil. Add this paste to warm water and drink it. This drink helps pacify Vata dosha. Ayurveda also uses this mix to treat various neurological and muscular disorders.
Ashwagandha’s side effects can affect some people. Please speak to a professional before adding it to your daily regimen.
Additional Ashwagandha Benefits
Consumption of ashwagandha or withania somnifera is also associated with the following health benefits:
- It benefits goiter and may have a positive effect on thyroid hormone level
- It helps improve the nourishment of the body and increases the strength
- It may lead to a faster healing process of wounds
- It may lower blood sugar levels
- Increases milk production during lactation and reduces pain during menstruation
- Strengthens cardio muscles and improves heart health
- Decreases blood pressure (effective in hypertension)
- Enhances skin quality – better hydration and elasticity
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