Ashwagandha: 6 Health Benefits and Rich History

by Abby Nelson

About Ashwagandha

One of the most revered herbs of Ancient India, ashwagandha is a 3-foot-tall shrub native to the dry lands of India, northern Africa, and the Middle East. The plant, covered in silver gray hairs with enchanting paper-like lanterns, gives way to bursts of bright red berries. Although the fruits are aesthetically pleasing, it is the roots which hold the powers to thousands of years of ancient remedies. In the following paragraph, you will read about some of these uses.

Photo of ashwagandha plant with berries

Historical and Medicinal Uses

Thousands of years ago, before the times of a written alphabet or before the construction of the great wonder of the pyramids, ashwagandha was being discovered as a plant ally to the people of India. In fact, ashwagandha is a Sanskrit word. Its translation means the “smell of a horse”, which captures the animal’s essence of strength and stability. There are even stories of Alexander the Great adding ashwagandha to his wine for himself and his army to support energy and vigor.

Written in India’s ancient religious texts called the Vedas, ashwagandha is regarded as a rejuvenating tonic. Ayurvedic medicine continues to use it as an aphrodisiac, diuretic, astringent, and stimulant (1).

Ayruvedic practitioners dry and grind the roots in to a fine powder. The powder gets placed in milk, ghee, or honey, which is drank as a tonic for children. It is also made in to an herbal paste, which is applied to joints to reduce inflammation. Another one of its many uses is to aid in a restful night’s sleep.

Photo of Ashwagandha Sprout in dirt

Modern Uses

As news of this powerful herb spread to the west, there has been an impressive amount of research done on its capabilities. In this paragraph, you will read some of the research and benefits.

Use 1: Ashwagandha for Stress and Anxiety

The way in which ashwagandha thrives in barren conditions and poor alkaline soils may be symbolic to its ability to allow the human body to adapt to stress. Many plants die in such arid conditions, but ashwagandha pushes through.

This medicinal herb is an adaptogen. Adaptogens are herbal remedies that help the body counteract the effects of stress. Studies show that ashwagandha reduces anxiety in substantial ways (2).

Use 2: May Increase Muscle Mass and Strength

Research shows that ashwagandha may increase strength (3, 11, 12).

In one study, men gained muscle strength after 30 days while taking 750-1,250 mg of ashwagandha (11).

Another study found that supplementing with ashwagandha during a resistance training program increased muscle mass and strength (12).

Use 3:  May Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation is the body’s natural defense against infections and injuries. However, chronic inflammation causes your body to be on high alert all the time, which can cause damage to your heart, brain, and organs. Several studies done on animals show that ashwagandha helps reduce inflammation (4).

Additional Benefits

Use 4: May Increase Fertility in Men

There are studies that test how ashwagandha supplements affect male testosterone levels and reproductive health (5).

One study showed that ashwagandha increased sperm count and testosterone levels (6).

Use 5: Can Reduce Blood Sugar Levels

Studies suggest that ashwagandha lowers blood sugar levels in healthy individuals and in those who have diabetes (7).

Use 6. May Improve Memory and Brain Function

In one study, men who took a 500 mg extract of ashwagandha reported improved reaction times and improvements in task performance (8).

Another study showed improved memory, task performance, and attention after taking 300 mg of ashwagandha twice daily (9).

The Takeaway

Overall, you will see a lot of information on the internet today supporting this powerful herb’s health benefits. Maybe you have interest in Ayurveda’s holistic approach to living- which includes the connection of a balanced mind, body, and soul. Or perhaps you are getting through some stressful times in today’s world. After reading about so many benefits online, I tried it out to help me through a tough roommate situation, which was difficult being stuck inside with COVID! I personally found that it had an overall relaxing effect on my body and helped me feel more content. As a result, it is worth checking out Izee Native’s ashwagandha supplements with black pepper, which increases the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. Give it a try and let us know how it works for you!

Photo of ashwagandha bottle with supplements