In our relatively young, modern country, Americans are slowly coming to the realization that there are, in fact, many ancient medical remedies and treatments that effectively improve upon one's quality of health and life without invasive procedures. It's been a challenging awaking for many of us to explore feasible, effective health solutions beyond the popular pharmaceuticals and surgical procedures; however, with the help of the web, people are finally discovering legitimate, alternative health solutions to their ailments, and it's stunning to find out how simple the solutions sometimes are.
We, thus, turn our attention to Ashwagandha's amazing and abundant health benefits: it's been used for thousands of years in India, Arabia, and Africa to treat numerous ailments such as anxiety, acute stress, hormone imbalances, insomnia, arthritis/inflammation, memory loss, liver diseases, menopause, cancer, and much more. Ashwagandha for medicinal treatments in the United States is beginning to gain significant fame, but Western medicine and science hasn't thoroughly research the root enough yet to fully understand the complexities of it's workings with various treatments. Where Western and ancient medicine are in agreement on Ashwagandha is how it impacts the brain to promote much needed healing throughout the body.
Ashwagandha (if you're new to the name) is also known as Indian ginseng or withnia somnifera, and it's been a traditional Ayurveda staple for medical usage in India and parts of Africa and Arabia for over three thousand years. The medicinal root/herb has finally caught the attention of Western scientists and pharmaceutical companies for its many positive health benefits, and interested researchers continue to test and understand its properties in a multitude of health treatments.
Thus far, the most conclusive data that's been found by scientists is Ashwagandha's positive impact on the brain which, in turn, regulates nearly every aspect of health and wellness in the body. Neuroscience today (via biochemistry) explains Ashwagandha's relationship to the brain in terms of assistance in guiding and regulating essential hormones, chemicals, and synapses that contribute to a healthy, invigorating life.
Stress, The Silent Killer
On a chemical level, one of our greatest adversaries to our health is stress. Even when consciously ignored, stress continues to negatively impact the body, and its effects are potent and systemic. Take cortisol for example: it's a hormone that's released into the body when you're mentally or physically stressed. Cortisol creates all sorts of havoc in the body. It's well known for producing lethargy with irresistible urges to binge eat comfort foods when you feel down and out. This, of course, leads to weight gain, muscle loss, fatigue, depression, and cognitive impairment, and when this becomes the norm in one's life, more detrimental health problems can arise such as acid reflux, insomnia, gut imbalances, increased blood pressure, slower tissue regeneration, and a suppressed immune system for fighting external threats to our bodies. Let's face it: when we're not stressed out, we can quickly fall apart. That's why it's essential to manage and control stress, and this has been Ashwagandha's primary use for thousands of years.  In a recent study measuring the increase and decrease of cortisol levels in patients, Ashwaganda and placebos were administered during the experiment and 64 individuals were observed as testing positive from the benefits of the herb for stress reduction.  Additional research has found Ashwagandha to have comparable benefits to the major anti-anxiety drug Lorazepam, but without having unwanted side effects like sleep apnea, Ataxi, and allergy hypersensitivity.
Rest, Relaxation, and a Positive Mood
In relationship to stress reduction, there is the opportunity for the body to rest and heal itself properly. Ashwagandha's positive contribution to hormone regulations and stress reduction has been shown to reduce insomnia, anxiety, and other sleep prohibitors. By getting complete, uninterrupted sleep cycles at night, the body can heal and rejuvenate itself, as well as be fortified against physical and mental stressors we come into contact with daily. When rest is consistent, our minds have the time to contemplate what's actually happening and react properly to the world around it. This means better decisions and outcomes. Emotionally, one's mood is at peace and more resilient to frustration and distraction. In our fast paced world, who couldn't benefit from being more rested, healthy, and responsive?
Arthritis and Inflammation
Inflammation and arthritis is unfortunately something the majority of us experience at some point in our lives, whether it's from aging, injuries, or debilitating disorders. For hundreds of years, Ashwagandha has been used to treat inflammation, and now scientists are verifying its effectiveness. In 2015, a study was conducted on 86 patients suffering from intense joint pain . Subjects were administered Ashwagandha supplements for a brief 3 week period, and results showed a conclusive reduction in pain and swelling reduction. While more studies need to be carried out on the herb's use for treating inflammation, Ashwagandha is looking to be effective in managing swelling and joint pain. The use of Ashwagandha is so broad due in part to its' composition, which includes iron, antioxidants, potassium, nitrate, alkaloids and fatty acids, all of which work together to lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and adjust the immune system. What's currently not known by scientists at this time is if there are any negative side-effects from using the treatment long term.
Alzheimer's and Dementia
Current research by Japanese scientists have discovered that Ashwagandha is helping to regenerate nerve cells in the brain that were previously damaged . Additional research demonstrates that the treatment is proving to reconstruct brain synapses that promote cellular communications that were formerly lost. While Ashwagandha hasn't been directly used yet to treat Alzheimer's and dementia patients, scientific interest in the root's healing properties are steadily increasing. The ancient medicine may be used in the near future to repair many brain trauma related injuries.
Fertility and Sexual Potency
Ancient medicine has traditionally prescribed Ashwagandha for treating fertility and sexual dysfunctions in both men and women. The root has been long used as an aphrodisiac, and has been scientifically proven to rebalance and revitalize testosterone production .
Menopause is an extremely challenging time in a woman's life due to the extreme hormonal changes going on within the body. These changes bring on a great deal of stress, physiological implications (i.e., hot flashes, insomnia, anxiety, etc.), and discomfort that, according to modern medicine, must simply run its course. With women, however, Ashwagandha treatments can positively impact the endocrine system, and thus, balance hormones much better.  In a 2012 study involving 51 menopausal women, Ashwagandha supplements were administered and there was a sizable reduction in their symptoms such as anxiety, hot flashes, and mood.
Cautionary Use of Ashwagandha
At this point in time, Ashwagandha hasn't been thoroughly studied by Western science to determine any potential long-term side effects from using the herb for various treatments. Be advised that if you have any of the three following health circumstances, you should not take Ashwagandha due to the negative side effects:
- Hyperthyroidism: While Ashwagandha has been well documented to balance hormones, if you have hyperthyroidism, it's strongly advised to not use the herb.
- Exacerbate other medications - especially sedatives and downers: Ashwagandha has been found to exacerbate or intensify the effects of other drugs - especially depressants like alcohol, barbiturates, and pain killers. They should therefore not be mixed with Ashwagandha.
- Pregnancy and Nursing: Ashwagandha has been known to cause miscarriages, so it should never be taken by pregnant mothers, nor should it be taken if you are breast feeding.
It is also not recommended for those with autoimmune diseases; those prone to ulcers; those with diabetes; iron deficiencies; or those about to have surgery. Those with thyroid concerns should also consider the combination of this supplement with their regulatory medications.
The manner in which you take Ashwagandha is dependent on your doctor or Ayurvedic practitioner's recommendations, along with your direct reason for taking the medicine, and any other health concerns you have. Therefore, there is no one particular dosage or methodology. However, several sources have recommendations to take before bed, to aid in sleep. Many people will mix in approximately three grams of Ashwagandha powder in warm milk. The average daily intake is between one and six grams. Some people do report intense nightmares with this medicine, when the dosage taken is too high for their system.
It is important to purchase your supplements from a trusted source, as there are reports that many drugs have higher the daily recommended levels of lead, arsenic, and mercury. The FDA has therefore placed particular regulations on such medicines as Ashwagandha.
-All Dream Leaf supplements are produced in a FDA Certified Lab in the United States-
*Note, this is considered to be a very potent plant, and can have harmful side effects when taken incorrectly or by those with certain health conditions, and therefore is recommended for use as detailed by a doctor and/or Ayurvedic practitioner. Before taking any supplement you should always talk to a doctor first and list all the medicines and supplements you are currently prescribed as this list isn't entirely comprehensive, and medicinal supplements should be chosen based on individual need and care.
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