Native to North Africa, India, and the Middle East, ashwagandha is a staple of the Hindu traditional medicine called Ayurveda. This herb, also known as Withania Somnifera or Indian Ginseng (though it is not related to ginseng), is known to pack a healing punch and to have significant restorative properties. Although the benefits of ashwagandha are lesser known, that doesn’t make the plant any less powerful.
Benefits of Ashwagandha
While this short and stout plant has a variety of benefits, the most widely recognized benefit of ashwagandha is its ability to boost the immune system. In fact, several studies have reportedly shown it to greatly boost the immune system, increasing white blood cell production, helping to ward off illness and disease. It’s these benefits that make it a go-to choice in Indian herbal medicine for people in recovery who are looking to rebuild their internal system after illness.
But, immune-system benefits are far from the only perks of this plant. In addition, it is said to impact sexual health—increasing fertility and even sperm count. It has also been traditionally used as an aphrodisiac. However, the roots may actually decrease fertility for women, so be forewarned.
For wound care, the leaves of the plant are said to provide a healing poultice. In addition, the roots have antifungal and antibacterial properties—good for warding off infection.
The benefits of ashwagandha are many; in addition to promoting fertility, aiding in wound care, and boosting the immune system, some other benefits are:
- Sleep aid
- Pain relief
- Eye health
- Heart tonic
- Lowers cholesterol
- Regulates blood sugar
- Reduces depression and anxiety
- Combats stress
- Fights cognitive decline due to brain cell degeneration
How does one plant do all this? Observing the health benefits of thyme and health benefits of ginger – two other gifts from nature – it is easy to see how natural foods offer so much. On the note of the health benefits of ashwagandha, scientists aren’t quite sure what gives the plant it’s powerful punch, but they know the benefits are there.
The plant is even labeled a “adaptogen:” this means ashwagandha adapts to fit certain health needs within the body—it finds what’s wrong and attempts to fix it. Other studies indicate it derives many of its benefits from antioxidant properties. But even without knowing the “how” of ashwagandha’s benefits, we know it works, and has been working for centuries.
As with any herbal treatment, do your research before beginning supplementation. Plants are powerful substances and could still have some negative effects, despite being safer than many man-made solutions.