Ashwagandha – why use adaptogens?

Ashwagandha – what is it?

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) also Indian ginseng or winter cherry. It has been known for thousands of years since it appeared as a beneficial herb in natural Indian medicine. Currently it is credited with anti-cancer, antibacterial, cytostatic, sedative and blood pressure-lowering properties.

It occurs naturally in tropical and sub-tropical climates and can therefore be found in South Africa, Sri Lanka, China, India and the Canary Islands. It grows in the form of shrubs up to 150 cm high. It can be recognized by its elongated, slightly mat leaves and orange-red fruits.

Ashwagandha owes its name to its specific, unpleasant smell – in Sanskrit, the combination of the words “ashwa” and “gandha” means: “horse smell”.

Ashwagandha active ingredients chemical composition

Indian ginseng owes its popularity to its active ingredients, which show a beneficial and holistic effect on the functioning of the body.

Witanolides are the most important compounds showing biological activity in the root and leaves of ashwagandha. Over 140 vitanolides from this plant have been thoroughly studied. They exhibit anticancer, antibacterial, cytostatic, sedative, and blood pressure-lowering properties. The best-studied is Withaferin A, whose proven anticancer activity is inhibition of factor Sp1. Sp1 factor helps maintain telomerase activity in cancer cells, contributing to their increased kongevity.

Withaferin A is responsible for the neuroprotective properties of Ashwaganda.

Another group of active substances present in the composition of Withania somnifera are alkaloids there are as many as 12 types of them. Alkaloids are characterized by antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety effects.

Other active compounds contained in Indian ginseng include: sitoinosides (present in the root of the plant, show anti-stress and antioxidant activity) and flavonoids (showing activity limiting the growth of pathogenic microorganisms).

Ashwagandha plant visualization

Ashwagandha as an adaptogen

For an herb to qualify as an adaptogen, it must meet several conditions:

  • The substance should be of natural origin
  • It should have a non-specific effect
  • It should have a normalizing effect on the body
  • It should be harmless
  • It should shows stress-adapting properties

Ashwagandha meets all of these – it is the most studied adaptogen, which is why it is often called: “queen of adaptogens” – numerous studies have shown that its regular use stabilizes physiological processes, strengthens resistance to stress and helps to better adapt to constantly changing external factors.

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Add titleAshwagandha – why use adaptogens?

Ashwagandha – what is it?

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) also Indian ginseng or winter cherry. It has been known for thousands of years since it appeared as a beneficial herb in natural Indian medicine. Currently it is credited with anti-cancer, antibacterial, cytostatic, sedative and blood pressure-lowering properties.

It occurs naturally in tropical and sub-tropical climates and can therefore be found in South Africa, Sri Lanka, China, India and the Canary Islands. It grows in the form of shrubs up to 150 cm high. It can be recognized by its elongated, slightly mat leaves and orange-red fruits.

Ashwagandha owes its name to its specific, unpleasant smell – in Sanskrit, the combination of the words “ashwa” and “gandha” means: “horse smell”.

Ashwagandha active ingredients chemical composition

Indian ginseng owes its popularity to its active ingredients, which show a beneficial and holistic effect on the functioning of the body.

Witanolides are the most important compounds showing biological activity in the root and leaves of ashwagandha. Over 140 vitanolides from this plant have been thoroughly studied. They exhibit anticancer, antibacterial, cytostatic, sedative, and blood pressure-lowering properties. The best-studied is Withaferin A, whose proven anticancer activity is inhibition of factor Sp1. Sp1 factor helps maintain telomerase activity in cancer cells, contributing to their increased kongevity.

Withaferin A is responsible for the neuroprotective properties of Ashwaganda.

Another group of active substances present in the composition of Withania somnifera are alkaloids there are as many as 12 types of them. Alkaloids are characterized by antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety effects.

Other active compounds contained in Indian ginseng include: sitoinosides (present in the root of the plant, show anti-stress and antioxidant activity) and flavonoids (showing activity limiting the growth of pathogenic microorganisms).

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is shutterstock_629051027-1024x1024.jpg
Ashwagandha plant visualization

Ashwagandha as an adaptogen

For an herb to qualify as an adaptogen, it must meet several conditions:

  • The substance should be of natural origin
  • It should have a non-specific effect
  • It should have a normalizing effect on the body
  • It should be harmless
  • It should shows stress-adapting properties

Ashwagandha meets all of these – it is the most studied adaptogen, which is why it is often called: “queen of adaptogens” – numerous studies have shown that its regular use stabilizes physiological processes, strengthens resistance to stress and helps to better adapt to constantly changing external factors.

How to obtain ashwagandha?

In traditional ayurvedic formulas, natural methods are used as a form of raw material preparation – drying and grinding the root to the finest possible form. For dietary supplements, extracts of varying concentrations are used, which are based on aqueous or organic solvents.

Ashwagandha safety and contradictions

Research on ashwagandha supplements confirms that it is safe to use in adequate amounts by healthy individuals. However, some people (especially those taking some specific drugs) should consult their doctor before starting Indian ginseng supplementation. What should you pay special attention to?

Thyroid disorders – the compounds in “ashwa” affect endocrine function. People with thyroid disorders should consult their doctor about the therapy.

Use of medications with central action – sleep aids, antidepressants, antiepileptic drugs. People taking medications from these groups should consult supplementation with a doctor.

Taking medications for hypertension and diabetes – ashwagandha may interfere with the effect of these groups of medications due to its hypotensive and hypoglycemic effects. It is a good idea to monitor blood pressure and sugar status while taking ashwagandha supplementation.

Ashwagandha interactions with other drugs and herbs

With which drugs can an ashwagandha supplement interact with?

  • Antidiabetic drugs: it is important to control the sugar-insulin balance more often, due to the hypoglycemic effect of ashwagandha
  • Sedative drugs (especially from the group of benzodiazepines): Indian ginseng can increase the effect of these drugs, which can cause dementia, excessive drowsiness and impaired concentration Immunosuppressive drugs: “ashwagandha” may reduce the effectiveness of these drugs.
  • Hypertension drugs: more frequent monitoring of blood pressure is recommended due to the fact that ashwagandha may lower it.
  • Thyroid hormones: ashwagandha may impair the regulation of hormones and may also increase the production of thyroid hormones and intensify the side effects of taking these substances.
  • Other adaptogens (ginseng, Bacopa Monnieri): ashwagandha in combination with other adaptogens can have a more intensive sedative effect.

Ashwagandha benefits

Ashwgandha is a very versatile adaptogen – because of its broad spectrum of actions, it can be used for different purposes and for different ailments. Additionally, it is inclusive – thanks to its ever-growing popularity, we can find more and more inexpensive but good quality supplements on the market. Almost anyone can use ashwagandha, because there are few contraindications for its usage.

Ashwagandha for stress

  • reduces cortisol levels in healthy people who are regularly stressed reduces feelings of anxiety/anxiety
  • makes it easier to fall asleep
  • improves the quality of sleep

Ashwagandha effects on the nervous system

  • protects neurons and glial cells (component of the nervous tissue). The active compounds in Indian ginseng have been shown to influence antioxidant activity in the cerebral cortex – supplementation may increase levels of naturally occurring antioxidant substances in the body.
  • causes better communication between nerve cells, which may result in better mental performance Ashwagandha and testosterone
  • increases free testosterone levels. Some data report an increase of up to 10%, so the result is really impressive!   Ashwagandha and the reproductive system and libido
  • Ashwagandha significantly improves the parameters responsible for sexual satisfaction in both men and women.
  • It eliminates erection problems in men
  • can make workouts more efficient and longer, which means that more calories can be burned
  • improves tolerance to fatigue and exertion
  • accelerates muscle regeneration after physical work

Ashwagandha immunity and the immune system

  • supports the treatment of autoimmune diseases
  • increases the proliferation of cells of the specific immune system, called B and T lymphocytes
  • enhances the activity of natural killer (NK) cells – has cytotoxic and antibacterial effects

Ashwagandha and the circulatory system

  • improves lipid profile – lowers levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides
  • increases the level of HDL cholesterol
  • improves the flow of nutrients to cells throughout the body
  • may support the treatment of anemia

Which form of ashwagandha to choose

There are plenty of preparations and supplements containing ashwagandha extract available on the market today. It is worth knowing that in the case of plant raw materials, the most important issue we should look at is standardization. In the context of ashwagandha, it concerns, first of all, the previously mentioned vitanolides.

Check out: Best Ashwagandha supplements – ranking

If the package of the supplement does not contain information on the amount of active compounds – it may turn out to be of questionable quality!

There is also the issue of choosing the form of the supplement. Ashwagandha can usually be found in three forms: in tablets, in capsules and in drops. There is also powdered ashwagandha root or leaf, from which a decoction should be prepared before consumption.

  • Ashwagandha in tablets: the tabletting process protects the active ingredients from excessive breakdown, so this form of supplementation is qualitatively adequate. This form is usually the cheapest.
  • Ashwagandha in capsule form: encapsulation is the most physically vulnerable form of supplement. Additionally, gelatin is often included in the capsule formulation, making this form unsuitable for vegans.
  • Ashwagandha drops: is the most expensive form of Ashwagandha supplementation. However, some studies show that Indian ginseng extract dissolved in oils may show better bioavailability. When choosing this form, it is a good idea to check the manufacturer – extracts in the form of drops should be stored in dark pharmaceutical bottles.

Ashwagandha dosage

The dosage of ashwagandha, like any other supplement, depends on several factors. The most important of these are age, purpose of use, and overall health. Generalizing, the supplement is usually recommended to be taken in two doses per day – morning and evening.

Ashwagandha supplementation breaks

Manufacturers recommend taking breaks during treatment with Indian ginseng. The effects of supplementation may be noticeable even after 2-3 months, however, it is recommended to take a one-month break in using the extract every 8 weeks due to rapid adaptation of the body to active substances. The supplement, in any form, should be consumed after a meal.

Ashwagandha during pregnancy

All manufacturers clearly recommend that ashwagandha extract supplements should not be used during pregnancy and lactation. Higher miscarriage rates have been reported with high doses of the extract!

Ashwagandha is not the only adaptogen worth using, go to the article: Adaptogens, why you should use them.

Summary

In conclusion, supplementation with ashwagandha extract is a very versatile choice, as it will work on number of our body systems. There are many supplements available on the market, but it is worth paying attention to standardization when choosing. There are some contraindications to using the supplement, but it is perfectly safe for healthy individuals.VisibilityPublish

How to obtain ashwagandha?

In traditional ayurvedic formulas, natural methods are used as a form of raw material preparation – drying and grinding the root to the finest possible form. For dietary supplements, extracts of varying concentrations are used, which are based on aqueous or organic solvents.

Ashwagandha safety and contradictions

Research on ashwagandha supplements confirms that it is safe to use in adequate amounts by healthy individuals. However, some people (especially those taking some specific drugs) should consult their doctor before starting Indian ginseng supplementation. What should you pay special attention to?

Thyroid disorders – the compounds in “ashwa” affect endocrine function. People with thyroid disorders should consult their doctor about the therapy.

Use of medications with central action – sleep aids, antidepressants, antiepileptic drugs. People taking medications from these groups should consult supplementation with a doctor.

Taking medications for hypertension and diabetes – ashwagandha may interfere with the effect of these groups of medications due to its hypotensive and hypoglycemic effects. It is a good idea to monitor blood pressure and sugar status while taking ashwagandha supplementation.

Ashwagandha interactions with other drugs and herbs

With which drugs can an ashwagandha supplement interact with?

  • Antidiabetic drugs: it is important to control the sugar-insulin balance more often, due to the hypoglycemic effect of ashwagandha
  • Sedative drugs (especially from the group of benzodiazepines): Indian ginseng can increase the effect of these drugs, which can cause dementia, excessive drowsiness and impaired concentration Immunosuppressive drugs: “ashwagandha” may reduce the effectiveness of these drugs.
  • Hypertension drugs: more frequent monitoring of blood pressure is recommended due to the fact that ashwagandha may lower it.
  • Thyroid hormones: ashwagandha may impair the regulation of hormones and may also increase the production of thyroid hormones and intensify the side effects of taking these substances.
  • Other adaptogens (ginseng, Bacopa Monnieri): ashwagandha in combination with other adaptogens can have a more intensive sedative effect.

Ashwagandha benefits

Ashwgandha is a very versatile adaptogen – because of its broad spectrum of actions, it can be used for different purposes and for different ailments. Additionally, it is inclusive – thanks to its ever-growing popularity, we can find more and more inexpensive but good quality supplements on the market. Almost anyone can use ashwagandha, because there are few contraindications for its usage.

Ashwagandha for stress

  • reduces cortisol levels in healthy people who are regularly stressed reduces feelings of anxiety/anxiety
  • makes it easier to fall asleep
  • improves the quality of sleep

Ashwagandha effects on the nervous system

  • protects neurons and glial cells (component of the nervous tissue). The active compounds in Indian ginseng have been shown to influence antioxidant activity in the cerebral cortex – supplementation may increase levels of naturally occurring antioxidant substances in the body.
  • causes better communication between nerve cells, which may result in better mental performance Ashwagandha and testosterone
  • increases free testosterone levels. Some data report an increase of up to 10%, so the result is really impressive!   Ashwagandha and the reproductive system and libido
  • Ashwagandha significantly improves the parameters responsible for sexual satisfaction in both men and women.
  • It eliminates erection problems in men
  • can make workouts more efficient and longer, which means that more calories can be burned
  • improves tolerance to fatigue and exertion
  • accelerates muscle regeneration after physical work

Ashwagandha immunity and the immune system

  • supports the treatment of autoimmune diseases
  • increases the proliferation of cells of the specific immune system, called B and T lymphocytes
  • enhances the activity of natural killer (NK) cells – has cytotoxic and antibacterial effects

Ashwagandha and the circulatory system

  • improves lipid profile – lowers levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides
  • increases the level of HDL cholesterol
  • improves the flow of nutrients to cells throughout the body
  • may support the treatment of anemia

Which form of ashwagandha to choose

There are plenty of preparations and supplements containing ashwagandha extract available on the market today. It is worth knowing that in the case of plant raw materials, the most important issue we should look at is standardization. In the context of ashwagandha, it concerns, first of all, the previously mentioned vitanolides.

Check out: Best Ashwagandha supplements – ranking

If the package of the supplement does not contain information on the amount of active compounds – it may turn out to be of questionable quality!

Recommended Ashwagandha supplement – Apollo’s Hegemony Ashwagandha Diamond HPLC

There is also the issue of choosing the form of the supplement. Ashwagandha can usually be found in three forms: in tablets, in capsules and in drops. There is also powdered ashwagandha root or leaf, from which a decoction should be prepared before consumption.

  • Ashwagandha in tablets: the tabletting process protects the active ingredients from excessive breakdown, so this form of supplementation is qualitatively adequate. This form is usually the cheapest.
  • Ashwagandha in capsule form: encapsulation is the most physically vulnerable form of supplement. Additionally, gelatin is often included in the capsule formulation, making this form unsuitable for vegans.
  • Ashwagandha drops: is the most expensive form of Ashwagandha supplementation. However, some studies show that Indian ginseng extract dissolved in oils may show better bioavailability. When choosing this form, it is a good idea to check the manufacturer – extracts in the form of drops should be stored in dark pharmaceutical bottles.

Ashwagandha dosage

The dosage of ashwagandha, like any other supplement, depends on several factors. The most important of these are age, purpose of use, and overall health. Generalizing, the supplement is usually recommended to be taken in two doses per day – morning and evening.

Ashwagandha supplementation breaks

Manufacturers recommend taking breaks during treatment with Indian ginseng. The effects of supplementation may be noticeable even after 2-3 months, however, it is recommended to take a one-month break in using the extract every 8 weeks due to rapid adaptation of the body to active substances. The supplement, in any form, should be consumed after a meal.

Ashwagandha during pregnancy

All manufacturers clearly recommend that ashwagandha extract supplements should not be used during pregnancy and lactation. Higher miscarriage rates have been reported with high doses of the extract!

Ashwagandha is not the only adaptogen worth using, go to the article: Adaptogens, why you should use them.

Summary

In conclusion, supplementation with ashwagandha extract is a very versatile choice, as it will work on number of our body systems. There are many supplements available on the market, but it is worth paying attention to standardization when choosing. There are some contraindications to using the supplement, but it is perfectly safe for healthy individuals.

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