Ayurveda is a well-known alternative healing medicine that found its roots 3.000 years ago in India. Before it became popular around the globe, it was practiced only in India, Africa, Asia, as well as the Mediterranean countries. This system supports the body’s self-healing properties by using herbs as well as herbal medicines, among which is ashwagandha.

Ashwagandha is an evergreen bush that grows mainly in India, some parts of Africa, as well as the Middle East. It is considered one of the most important herbs of the Ayurvedic medicine due to its incredible health benefits. As it’s known, it has been used to treat many health conditions, including stress, insomnia, fever, diabetes, memory loss, arthritis, snake bites, and similar. However, since there has been scientific proof only for part of them, we will only look at them.

Ashwagandha Longevity Health Benefits

1. Reduces Anxiety and Stress

One of the most common uses of ashwagandha is for anxiety as well as stress reduction. There have been many studies on this topic. According to a 2012 study, this herb helped reduce stress, anxiety, as well as insomnia by 69%. As researchers have found, the main reason why it helps treat these mental conditions is that it reduces the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. It has also been found to have blocked the stress pathway in the brain of rats by regulating the signals in the nervous system. 

2. May Reduce Depression Symptoms

Depression, unfortunately, is a very common mental condition. As the World Health Organization states, more than 264 million people suffer from depression (1). It’s also one of the leading causes of committing suicide. Therefore, it’s of crucial importance to find an efficient way to treat this condition.

According to a 2000 study, using ashwagandha for depression might be helpful. It’s because it showed that it is well-tolerated by the patients and has anxiolytic properties. That’s why it may help reduce the symptoms of depression. Happier and healthier people are reported to enjoy longevity.

3. Can Lower Blood Sugar Levels

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Apart from reducing cortisol levels, ashwagandha can also lower blood sugar levels. According to the studies conducted on this topic, it increased insulin production as well as improved its sensitivity in muscle cells (2). It was also found that it can lower blood sugar levels in both healthy people as well as diabetics. (3, 4)

This is an important discovery, especially in terms of treating diabetes. As it’s known, diabetes is an auto-immune or chronic disease which is a result of lack of insulin production (Type 1) or insulin resistance (Type 2). Therefore, being able to improve insulin sensitivity as well as increase its production, this herb may be the answer to treating this condition.

4. May Lower Cholesterol Levels

Another heart-related benefit of ashwagandha is its ability to lower cholesterol levels. Apart from cholesterol, it may also reduce triglyceride levels. There have been some animal studies that found this herb can lower both cholesterol and triglyceride levels by around 50%. (5) The human studies, on the other hand, showed that the reduction percentage is lower, yet great because ashwagandha lowered the LDL (bad) cholesterol by 17% whereas the triglycerides by 11%. (6)

5. May Improve Brain Function Problems

It has been found that ashwagandha may help improve brain function problems as well as the memory that are caused by a disease or an injury. Studies have shown that it may benefit patients with Alzheimer’s as well as epilepsy. It’s because this herb acts as an antioxidant, thus protecting nerve cells from damage caused by the harmful free radicals.

According to the findings, ashwagandha can reverse spatial memory impairment in patients with epilepsy. (7) Moreover, it was found that it can improve the memory of both healthy people and people with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, as well as Huntington’s. (8) As presented in the African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine, this herb may protect the brain, nerves, as well as nerve paths from damage, as a result of these diseases, if given in early stages. (9)

6. May Reduce Inflammation

Several studies, conducted on people and animals, have shown that ashwagandha may be able to reduce inflammation (10, 11, 12). According to the findings, it’s because it increases the activity of the immune cells, thus boosting their ability to fight infections. Moreover, it has been found that it helps reduce the markers of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein which is associated with increased risk of heart disease.

7. May Increase Physical Strength and Muscle Mass For Longevity

Apart from playing an important role in improving your overall health, ashwagandha may also improve your physical strength. As studies have found, this amazing herb may make you stronger. (13, 14) It does that by improving your body composition as well as increasing muscle mass and due to body fat reduction.

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The Bottom Line

According to the findings,  ashwagandha is indeed a very helpful herb and is well tolerated. It can assist in improving your physical health as well as strength. It can also improve your mental health. 

References

Candelario M, Cuellar E, Reyes-Ruiz JM, Darabedian N, Feimeng Z, Miledi R, Russo-Neustadt A, Limon A. Direct Evidence for Gabaergic Activity of Withania Somnifera on Mammalian Ionotropic Gabaa and Gabaρ Receptors. Journal of Ethnopharmacology.  2015 Aug 2;171:264-72. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2015.05.058. Epub 2015 Jun 9

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression

Andrade C, Aswath A, Chaturvedi SK, Srinivasa M, Raguram R. A Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Evaluation of the Anxiolytic Efficacy ff an Ethanolic Extract of Withania Somnifera. Indian Journal of Psychiatry. 2000 Jul;42(3):295-301.

Gorelick J., Rosenberg R., Smotrich A., Hanuš L., Bernstein N. Hypoglycemic Activity of Withanolides and Elicitated Withania Somnifera. Phytochemistry. 2015 Aug;116:283-289. doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2015.02.029. Epub 2015 Mar 18.

Raut AA, Rege NN, Tadvi FM, Solanki PV, Kene KR, Shirolkar SG, Pandey SN, Vaidya RA, Vaidya AB. Exploratory Study to Evaluate Tolerability, Safety, and Activity of Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) in Healthy Volunteers. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine. 2012 Jul;3(3):111-4. doi: 10.4103/0975-9476.100168.

Andallu B, Radhika B. Hypoglycemic, Diuretic and Hypocholesterolemic Effect of Winter Cherry (Withania Somnifera, Dunal) Root. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology. 2000 Jun;38(6):607-9.

Visavadiya NP, Narasimhacharya AV. Hypocholesteremic and Antioxidant Effects of Withania Somnifera (Dunal) in Hypercholesteremic Rats. Phytomedicine: International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology. 2007 Feb;14(2-3):136-42. Epub 2006 May 18.

Biswajit Auddy, PhD., Jayaram Hazra, PhD., Achintya Mitra, MD, Bruce Abedon, PhD., Shibnath Ghosal, PhD. A Standardized Withania Somnifera Extract Significantly Reduces Stress-Related Parameters in Chronically Stressed Humans: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study. JANA  Vol. 11, No. 1, 2008

https://blog.priceplow.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/withania_review.pdf

Soman S, Korah PK, Jayanarayanan S, Mathew J, Paulose CS. Oxidative Stress Induced NMDA Receptor Alteration Leads to Spatial Memory Deficits in Temporal Lobe Epilepsy: Ameliorative Effects of Withania Somnifera and Withanolide A. Neurochemical Research 2012 Sep;37(9):1915-27. doi: 10.1007/s11064-012-0810-5. Epub 2012 Jun 15.

Kurapati KR, Atluri VS, Samikkannu T, Nair MP. Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) Reverses Β-amyloid1-42 Induced Toxicity in Human Neuronal Cells: Implications in HIV-associated Neurocognitive Disorders (HAND). PLoS One. 2013 Oct 16;8(10):e77624. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0077624. eCollection 2013.

Narendra Singh, Mohit Bhalla, Prashanti de Jager, Marilena Gilca. An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda. African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines. 2011; 8(5 Suppl): 208–213. doi: 10.4314/ajtcam.v8i5S.9

Samadi Noshahr Z, Shahraki MR, Ahmadvand H, Nourabadi D, Nakhaei A. Protective Effects of Withania Somnifera Root on Inflammatory Markers and Insulin Resistance in Fructose-fed Rats. Reports of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. 2015 Apr;3(2):62-7.

Bhat J, Damle A, Vaishnav PP, Albers R, Joshi M, Banerjee G. In Vivo Enhancement of Natural Killer Cell Activity Through Tea Fortified with Ayurvedic Herbs. Phytotherapy Research: PTR. 2010 Jan;24(1):129-35. doi: 10.1002/ptr.2889.

Mikolai J, Erlandsen A, Murison A, Brown KA, Gregory WL, Raman-Caplan P, Zwickey HL. In Vivo Effects of Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) Extract on the Activation of Lymphocytes. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2009 Apr;15(4):423-30. doi: 10.1089/acm.2008.0215.

Wankhede S, Langade D, Joshi K, Sinha SR, Bhattacharyya S. Examining the Effect of Withania Somnifera Supplementation on Muscle Strength and Recovery: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2015 Nov 25;12:43. doi: 10.1186/s12970-015-0104-9. eCollection 2015.

Sandhu JS, Shah B, Shenoy S, Chauhan S, Lavekar GS, Padhi MM. (2010) Effects of Withania Somnifera (Ashwagandha) and Terminalia Arjuna (Arjuna) on Physical Performance and Cardiorespiratory Endurance in Healthy Young Adults. International Journal of Ayurveda Research. 2010 Jul;1(3):144-9.doi: 10.4103/0974-7788.72485.

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Ella Blunn

Ella Blunn

Ella Blunn is a freelance content writer and a digital nomad. You can find her on top of a mountain harvesting herbs. She loves trying new herbs and then writing about them.

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.