Understanding the Benefits & Downside of Using Ashwagandha


28 Sep
28Sep

Ashwagandha is an ancient medicinal herb, and it is considered as one of the most important herbs in Ayurveda science. Ashwagandha, or withaniasomnifera, is commonly known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry. The name winter cherry is basically derived from the appearance of the plant, which is an evergreen shrub with red berries. However, the red berries are not used for making the ashwagandha powder. When the roots of the winter cherry shrub are powdered, they provide various health benefits; this powder is known as ashwagandha powder. The name Indian ginseng is a bit misnomer as it is not botanically related to the ginseng. However, both ginseng & ashwagandha are adaptogenic.

So, if you're looking for an alternative form of treatment and are curious to learn about Ayurvedic medicine, then ashwagandha is an excellent option. This powder is beneficial for anyone struggling with mental health, sexual health, cognitive function, immunity, and various other health conditions. However, just like every good thing has its downside, ashwagandha too has its downside. So, in this article, we will discuss the benefits and downside of using it.

Benefits of Ashwagandha

Reduces Blood Sugar Level

Ashwagandha, when taken for some time, has the potential to reduce blood sugar levels. Researches have shown that this herb helps to improve insulin sensitivity. Also, it indicates that ashwagandha can lower the blood sugar level for people with diabetes issue.

It has Anti-Cancer Properties

Various test-tube studies done on animals have found that Withaferin A— a compound found in ashwagandha helps to induce apoptosis (programmed death of cancer cells).

Studies on animals suggest that ashwagandha helps in the treatment of various types of cancer which includes breast cancer and lung cancer. However, Double-Blind human studies are yet to reach the stage 3 test. But considering the benefits it brings to the quality of life with lowered oxidative stress point of view, there's no harm of using it in your daily routine.

Reduces Cortisol Levels

Cortisol is the hormone released by the adrenal glands in the human body when a person is extremely stressed out. This hormone is often used as a physiological marker of stress in the body. Having high cortisol levels for a prolonged period of time are often linked to chronic stress. Taking an Ayurvedic medicine like ashwagandha helps to reduce cortisol levels which, in turn, help to increase serotonin & dopamine levels in the brain. Thus, taking ashwagandha helps to reduce chronic stress and symptoms of depression.

Boosts Testosterone and Increases Fertility in Men

Chronic stress often leads to various hormonal changes that can directly affect your sex drive and fertility. Since ashwagandha are known for reducing chronic stress, it also helps men suffering from erectile dysfunction. There are certain ashwagandha supplements available that majorly helps with this issue. Taking an Ayurvedic herb like ashwagandha is a more holistic way to treat this condition than taking other allopathic supplements.

The Downside of Using Ashwagandha

Although ashwagandha has various benefits, it too has its downside. For any form of traditional medicine, or complementary/alternative medicine, it is important to consult a health care professional before taking a new medication; this reduces the risk of experiencing side effects or contraindications.

As far as ashwagandha extract is concerned, you can safely consume it for a maximum period of three months. After that, it can be risky to continue having ashwagandha. However, there are no researches or studies to show its potential long term side effects. Below are a few points that you keep in mind before taking ashwagandha:

  • You should avoid using it on your skin. However, people are still uncertain about whether there are side effects of doing so.
  • If you're suffering from diabetes issue, make sure you're extremely careful while consuming ashwagandha. It can make your blood sugar levels very low and interfere with any medications that you are taking.
  • It also sometimes interferes with medications that are used for treating high blood pressure. So, you need to be cautious before consuming it if you have such a health issue.
  • Ashwagandha has the potential of irritating the gastrointestinal tract, so it is advised that you must not consume it if you have stomach ulcers.
  • While ashwagandha does have certain anti-inflammatory effects, it might also make your immune system to become more active, which could potentially increase the symptoms in people suffering from autoimmune diseases.
  • Ashwagandha might actually slow down your central nervous system, so it is advised to not take it for at least two weeks prior to undergoing surgery.
  • Also, it can possibly increase thyroid hormone levels, so you need to be cautious when consuming it if you already have a thyroid condition.

These were just a few downsides of having ashwagandha, the benefits it provides are something that cannot be matched. So it is suggested to seek a professional health care provider advise before taking it.

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