Ashwagandha improves your response to daily stress. Powerful antioxidant.

Category: Energy and mental well-being, Integrative Nutrition, Stress

ASHWAGANDHA: INCREASES PHYSICAL AND MENTAL WELL-BEING

Víctor Blasco, PhD in Chemistry. Specialist in Medicinal Chemistry.

Ashwagandha is a medicinal plant native to India and North Africa, known by the scientific name Withania Somnifera. Although little known to today’s society, it has been used in traditional medicine for more than 3,000 years for its beneficial properties for the body and mind.

This plant belongs to the Solanaceae family, like the aubergine and the tomato, and contains a multitude of active compounds that are responsible for its medicinal properties. These include the withanolides (steroid lactones), which are attributed with anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic and antioxidant properties. They are also natural adaptogens for the body, helping to regulate any stressful situation, whether physical, psychological or environmental. They are also natural adaptogens for the body, helping to regulate any stressful situation, whether physical, psychological or environmental. 1

In addition to these, Ashwagandha contains a number of other active compounds that contribute to its enormous health benefits, also showing immunomodulatory, cardioprotective and neuroprotective properties. These include alkaloids, fatty acids, amino acids and a variety of sugars. Some alkaloids, such as somniferin and somnin, have sedative effects and can help improve sleep quality.

Moreover, the name Ashwagandha means “the smell and strength of a horse”, also referring to its aphrodisiac properties and unique smell. For this reason, and all of the above, it is commonly used to treat physical and mental fatigue, impotence and ageing, in addition to a host of other benefits detailed below.

Firstly, as mentioned above, it helps to combat stress and anxiety by producing an appropriate response to different stimuli or forms of stress. It also contributes to the maintenance of normal levels of cortisol in the blood, the so-called “stress hormone”, and helps to combat insomnia, improving the quality of sleep. All this makes it easier to cope with such situations and even dramatically improves people’s mood. Some studies show that supplementation with this plant can reduce anxiety and insomnia by up to 69%, severe depression by up to 79%, and the release of cortisol in the blood by up to 30%.2,3

Another of its most notable characteristics is its ability to stimulate memory and cognitive functions. In this sense, Ashwagandha extracts help to improve the learning process and concentration, help to keep the mind alert during episodes of fatigue and drowsiness, and promote greater focus and clarity in cognitive development. Furthermore, given their antioxidant properties, they protect the brain and prevent cell damage caused by free radicals. There is therefore a great deal of scientific evidence, especially in in vivo animal studies, that shows the great potential of extracts from this plant.4

 

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It also has anti-inflammatory and cardioprotective effects. Its anti-inflammatory activity is mainly due to the presence of withanolides, a group of steroid molecules that act by inhibiting the activity of certain enzymes and pro-inflammatory substances, such as tumour necrosis factor a (TNF-a) and Interleukins. In addition, they increase the activity of Natural Killers, strengthening the immune system and helping in the fight against external agents and infections.5

In terms of cardiovascular health, Ashwagandha contains flavonoids that are able to reduce blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, significantly improving the lipid profile of individuals. In addition, animal studies have shown that these extracts also have hypotensive effects that help reduce and regulate blood pressure, which has a major impact on the treatment of hypertension and type II diabetes. 6

Another characteristic that needs to be highlighted is its ability to improve physical performance and vitality in individuals. Given its adaptogenic properties, Ashwagandha increases energy levels and endurance, which translates into improved athletic performance and a greater ability to cope with physical stress.7 In addition, extracts of this plant exhibit anabolic and antioxidant properties that promote muscle growth and repair, accelerating recovery after intense exercise and significantly increasing muscle mass through protein synthesis. 8

It is also capable of regulating the levels of hormones related to sport, which, together with its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, greatly enhance physical performance and allow the body to function optimally.

Finally, thanks to its ability to regulate hormonal balance, it is of great importance in improving sleep quality 9 and even in the treatment of hypothyroidism.10 On the one hand, it increases sleep efficiency, total sleep time and sleep latency, making it an effective ally in the fight against insomnia, and on the other hand, it can stimulate the thyroid gland, specifically the T3 and T4 hormones, which could also be used as a treatment for hypothyroidism.

In short, Ashwagandha is an ancient herb which, although not of great interest to the scientific community, has enormous therapeutic potential for relieving stress and anxiety, improving physical performance and increasing vitality. In addition, this amazing plant is capable of strengthening cognitive function, increasing concentration and memory, and actively acts to improve the quality of sleep and promote optimal health. It is therefore a natural ally for all those seeking to feel better, optimise their state of health and reach their maximum potential in all aspects of their lives.

Would you like to find out more about Ashwagandha?

 

 

Bibliographic references:

1.- Singh, G., Sharma, P. K., Dudhe, R., & Singh, S. Biological activities of Withania somnifera. Ann. Biol. Res., 2010, 1(3), 56-63.

2.- Chandrasekhar, K., Kapoor, J., & Anishetty, S. A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian journal of psychological medicine, 2012, 34(3), 255–262.

3.- Auddy, B., Hazra, J., Mitra, A., Abedon, B., Ghosal, S. A Standardized Withania Somnifera Extract Significantly Reduces Stress-Related Parameters in Chronically Stressed Humans: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study. Journal of American Nutraceutical Association. 2008, 11 (1), 51-57.

4.- Bharti, V. K., Malik, J. K., Gupta, R. C. Ashwagandha: multiple health benefits. Nutraceuticals, 2016, 717-733

5.- Mishra L. C, Singh B. B., Dagenais S. Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Withania somnifera (ashwagandha): a review. Altern Med Rev. 2000, 5 (4), 334-346.

6.- Andallu, B., & Radhika, B. Hypoglycemic, diuretic and hypocholesterolemic effect of winter cherry (Withania somnifera, Dunal) root. Indian J. Exp. Biol., 2000, 38 (6), 607–609.

7.- Sandhu J. S, Shah B, Shenoy S, Chauhan S, Lavekar G. S, Padhi M. M. Effects of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) and Terminalia arjuna (Arjuna) on physical performance and cardiorespiratory endurance in healthy young adults. Int J Ayurveda Res. 2010, 1 (3), 144-149.

8.- Wankhede, S., Langade, D., Joshi, K., Sinha, S. R., & 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, 12, 43.

9.- Deshpande, A., Irani, N., Balkrishnan, R. Benny, I. R. A randomized, double blind, placebo controlled study to evaluate the effects of ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract on sleep quality in healthy adults. Sleep medicine, 2020, 72, 28-36.

10.- Panda, S., & Kar, A. Withania somnifera and Bauhinia purpurea in the regulation of circulating thyroid hormone concentrations in female mice. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 1999, 67 (2), 233–239.

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