Are you losing sleep over hair fall? That’s not very nice.
But fret not!
Ashwagandha, a traditional Indian herb, can come to your rescue. Being an adaptogen, it will help you stay calm and relaxed, improve sleep quality and thus promote hair growth.
In this article, we will look at 9 amazing benefits of ashwagandha. We’ll also see how to take it and who should avoid it.
Ashwagandha, also known as Indian Ginseng, is a shrub that grows in dry regions of India, China and Yemen.
Deemed as one of the valuable herbs in Indian medicine, it’s a rejuvenator, health tonic, anti-stress agent and memory booster.
Interestingly, the name ‘ashwagandha’ is formed by joining two Sanskrit names: ‘ashwa’ means horse and ‘gandha’ is smell. The fresh roots of ashwagandha smell like a horse. Also, the herb is said to give you horse-like strength and energy.
But the surge in demand for ashwagandha is not for the ‘horse-like power’ but because of its adaptogenic nature. What does this mean?
We live in a stressful world that can take a toll on our bodies, hair, skin and whatnot.
The conventional anti-depressants come with their share of trouble. Thus enters ashwagandha to reduce anxiety and agitated mind and help our body cope with a stressful situation.
With a coping mechanism available, our body functions better and can also focus on growing better hair rather than responding to the fight or flight response that gets triggered due to stress.
There’s more to this Indian herb, here are its numerous benefits….
Ashwagandha has natural stress-relieving properties.
When the body is stressed, the immune and endocrine systems are in a wreck, leaving a person feeling depleted and exhausted. Adaptogenic herbs such as ashwagandha work to restore the balance of hormones, calm and strengthen the nerves and make the body more resilient to stress.
In traditional Indian medicine, ashwagandha has been used to treat nervous exhaustion, debility and boost immune function.
In a 2019 study, 60 adults with self-reported high stress took a daily dose of ashwagandha supplements (240mg). At the end of 60 days trial, the researchers found a significant reduction in anxiety levels measured using a standardized questionnaire. Moreover, there was a reduction in serum cortisol, which is a stress hormone.
The botanical name of ashwagandha is Withania somnifera. And somnifera in Latin means sleep-inducing.
Due to ashwagandha’s anti-anxiety and nerve-calming effects, it promotes sound, restful sleep.
A 2021 review that examined 5 high-quality studies containing 400 participants found that ashwagandha appeared to have a notable effect on overall sleep quality. Besides, it improved the mental alertness of participants upon waking up (a sign of good sleep).
Ashwagandha is useful for balancing adrenal function. When you are stressed, your adrenals (endocrine glands) release cortisol. If the cortisol remains high, over time, it can cause muscle wastage, increased blood sugar levels and suppressed immune system.
Research shows that ashwagandha supplements can help reduce cortisol, nourish the adrenals and aids healing. In addition, ashwagandha is an immuno-stimulant and rejuvenative. A healthy immune system protects us from infections, allergies and pathogens.
Ashwagandha looks after our hair by reducing stress.
As you may know, stress can push hair follicles from the growing phase to the resting phase, leading to more hair falling out than usual. Plus, stress increases androgen levels which shrink the hair follicles and cause male and female pattern baldness.
Because ashwagandha works as an adaptogen and makes our body more resilient to stress, it can protect hair from the untoward effects of stress.
Ashwagandha is also said to preserve our natural hair colour. The powerful antioxidants in ashwagandha fight the free radicals that can cause greying. In addition, it increases the production of melanin, the pigment responsible for hair colour.
If you are looking for a natural herb to control diabetes, ashwagandha may provide help. In traditional Indian medicine, ashwagandha has been used alone or with other plants to reduce blood sugar levels.
Studies show that ashwagandha can help cells to absorb glucose from the blood, increasing peripheral insulin sensitivity. And this can translate into reduced blood sugar levels in both healthy people and those with diabetes.
Ashwagandha may help reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Ashwagandha acts as a pain reliever, blocking pain signals to travel to the brain. While its anti-inflammatory properties help reduce joint swelling.
Ashwagandha is often given to weak, emaciated persons to help them build muscle mass, strength, and stamina. Since it is anabolic, this herb provides an excellent, safe alternative to steroids for increasing muscle mass.
A 2015 study conducted on 57 male participants who took an ashwagandha supplement of 600 mg and underwent resistance training for 8 weeks found a significant increases in muscle strength and size, compared to those who consumed starch placebos.
It appears that regular use of ashwagandha can boost hemoglobin levels and red blood cell count. What this means is more oxygen is delivered to each and every cell of your body. So you will have more energy and stamina as well as glowing skin.
Ashwagandha is widely used in Indian medicine to enhance memory and learning.
Ashwagandha has powerful antioxidants such as withanamides A and C. These compounds offer protective effects on the brain and may help slow cognitive decline and improve memory, attention and reaction time.
Ashwagandha supplements are made from the root, although leaves too are used in the commercial preparations. You can either take ashwagandha powder or its extract in capsule form.
Ashwagandha powder: General recommended dose for powder is between 1 to 2 grams (1/2 teaspoon) per day. Start at a low dose, say 1/4 tsp, then build up gradually. You can have it with warm milk, ghee (clarified butter), or honey. You can also add it to your soups, smoothies, etc. If you are a woman, it may help to take ashwagandha with another ayurvedic herb, shatavari, as it seems to have a beneficial effect when taken together.
Ashwagandha pills: Because of its strong taste, ashwagandha capsules are usually preferred. The most common recommended dosage is between 100 to 300 mg per day.
How long can you take it: Like all herbal supplements, it is advised that you do not take it continually. So take it for 3 to 4 months, then give a gap of few months. This gives your body time to readjust itself.
Along with ashwagandha, follow a diet high in fresh vegetables, fruits, healthy fats (nuts & seeds), lentils and beans, fish and some meat. Remove refined flour, packaged foods and drinks from your diet. These diet changes along with ashwagandha can help you see great results in reducing stress, boosting energy, improving neurological health, balancing hormones and looking youthful.
Although ashwagandha is considered safe, it’s not appropriate for everyone. It’s a potent herbal medicine and therefore has limitations in use.
Do you use ashwagandha? What has been your experience?