Are you searching for a natural herb to help boost health and lower disease risk? USA Today reports the United States’ herbal supplement market is worth over $40 billion. This provides consumers with several options, including organic ashwagandha. Many consumers are less familiar with ashwagandha herbs compared to others on the market, such as ginseng, turmeric, and ginkgo. As with other dietary supplements, it’s important to know the possible health benefits of ashwagandha based on scientific studies.
What Exactly Is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is in the nightshade family, which explains why people often say it looks like tomato plants. The herb dates back to about 6000 BC in ancient India as part of the alternative medicine system Ayurveda.
This plant is native to regions including the Middle East, Africa, and South-East Asia. However, it’s mostly grown in India. Some people use the natural herb for cooking, although they typically use it for medicinal purposes.
Supplement makers might also sell the plant under other names, including winter cherry and Indian ginseng. Past studies show it might provide several possible health benefits.
1. Lower Blood Sugar Levels
The CDC reports over 10% of the USA’s population has diabetes. A recent test-tube study showed Ashwagandha improved insulin resistance in muscle cells. This is an important marker since insulin resistance can lead to pre-diabetes and diabetes.
The study also found that the herb of Traditional Indian Medicine (TIM) reduced fasting blood sugar levels. While more research is needed, it seems that ashwagandha seems to be effective in lowering blood sugar levels.
2. Reduced Stress and Anxiety
Past studies show the herbal supplement might be helpful to reduce stress and anxiety levels since it might have a calming effect. It’s also a more natural treatment compared to anxiety medicines with strong synthetic chemicals.
3. Improved Heart Health
Some studies show that ashwagandha might provide heart-friendly benefits, including:
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower blood cholesterol
- Relieve chest pain
- Prevent heart disease
More research is needed about the effects of products like ashwagandha root extract on heart health.
It’s possible the natural herb might contain properties that can fight cancer cells. Some animal and test-tube studies show that the chemical compound withaferin might help to kill cancer cells while preventing new cancer cells from growing.
Studies also show that the chemical compound might also help to fight various kinds of cancer, including:
One animal study showed that combining withaferin with an anti-cancer drug produced an average three-quarters reduction in cancer tumor growth. This anti-cancer treatment also prevented cancer cells from spreading to other animal organs.
5. Improved Brain Function and Memory
Various animal and test-tube studies reveal ashwagandha might help to improve memory and brain function based on issues including Alzheimer’s disease.
Studies also show that the powerful herb can boost antioxidants, which can help protect nerve cells from free radical attacks. This includes a rat study that showed the ashwagandha treatment nearly restored all “spatial memory” issues due to epilepsy.
6. Arthritis Pain Relief
The CDC reports nearly one-quarter of Americans to have arthritis. Studies show that ashwagandha might function as a pain reliever, which can help block signals from moving along the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord, and nerves).
Ashwagandha also seems to have anti-inflammatory properties based on studies. Due to these features, scientists believe the ancient herb might be effective for treating arthritis. This includes a small 2015 study that showed the herb might be an effective rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treatment.
Studies show the benefits of organic ashwagandha supplements might include ones related to heart health, memory, and anti-cancer properties. This natural herb that from ancient times can still provide big health benefits in the digital age.