Ashwagandha, also called Indian ginseng, is a plant native to India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Its scientific name is Withania somnifera and for more than 3000 years it has been used in Ayurvedic medicine as a rejuvenating and anti-aging remedy, able to restore calm and serenity and to support the immune system. The term Ashwagandha literally means horse smell and refers both to the very strong smell emanating from its root and to the fact that, according to tradition, Ashawagandha can give the power of a horse to those who take it. In recent years, science has dedicated several studies aimed at understanding and analyzing the properties of Ashwagandha that, as shown by research, are due to its active ingredients such as withanolides, alkaloids and saponins. So let's try to better understand what this natural remedy can do for our health, relying, as always, on the most recent scientific studies.
Ashwagandha for Memory
Studies have shown that Ashwagandha is able to improve memory and cognitive function, including information processing speed and mental flexibility, in both healthy people and people with early stage dementia (Xing et al, Int J Environ Res Public Health, 2022). In the latter case, results were observed after taking 600 mg of Ashwagandha root extract for 2 months, while in healthy people, cognitive function can improve after taking between 200 and 400 mg of Ashwagandha extract for one month (Xing et al, Int J Environ Res Public Health, 2022). Even a single intake of 400 mg of Ashwagandha root improves short-term memory and attention in healthy people (Xing et al, Int J Environ Res Public Health, 2022). The neuroprotective properties of Ashwagandha can be attributed to its ability to counteract free radicals and inflammation, modulate the action of neurotransmitters, reduce apoptosis, namely programmed death, of neurons and stimulate synaptic plasticity (D Cruz et al, Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol, 2022).
Ashwagandha against anxiety and stress
Ashwagandha counteracts stress and anxiety, even in young adults, already after 30 days of taking 200-400 mg of extract of roots and leaves of the plant (Xing et al, Int J Environ Res Public Health, 2022 - Akhgarjand et al, Phytother Res, 2022). Ashwagandha, in particular, is adaptogenic, it strengthens the body and makes it more capable of adapting to events (D Cruz et al, Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol, 2022).
Ashwagandha against insomnia
Ashwagandha, thanks to its content in withanolides, helps in case of insomnia. In particular, studies have observed that Ashwagandha improves the quality of sleep, allows you to lengthen the time spent in bed while asleep, promotes the deep sleep phase, which is the phase in which the brain regenerates, and recharges the body with energy during the day (Yang et al, Curr Dev Nutr, 2022 - Murthy et al, Prev Nutr Food Sci, 2022).
Ashwagandha against ulcers
Ashwagandha has been shown to be able to counteract the onset of ulcers caused by stress and drugs such as aspirin (Singh et al, Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med., 2011).
Ashwagandha and muscles
Ashawagandha improves muscle strength and increases muscle mass, proving useful in counteracting sarcopenia (Wankhede et al, J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 2015).
Ashawagandha and infertility
A limited number of studies have shown that Ashawagandha can help improve fertility, especially in men. However, as indicated by the authors of the research, at present it is still too early to state with certainty that Ashawagandha has this effect. Even if the preliminary results are promising, further research will have to be carried out on larger samples of the population (Durg et al, Phytomedicine, 2018).
Ashwagandha, how to take it and warnings
Ashwagandha is taken in the form of an extract, available in chemist's and herbalist's shops. Ashwagandha is considered generally safe although its long-term effects have not yet been evaluated. In general, the studies have analyzed the action of ashawagandha extracts in doses between 200 and 600 mg and taken up to a maximum of two months and have judged this intake as safe and without side effects (Verma et al, Complement Ther Med, 2021 ). However, caution should be used in some cases. Avoid during pregnancy and ask your doctor for advice if you are taking medicines or need to keep diabetes under control, as Ashawagandha acts with a hypoglycaemic action which could be added to that of the medicines in use.