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  • Know Everything About Ashwagandha: Benefits, Uses, Modern Relevance Of The Ancient Wonder Herb

    Know Everything About Ashwagandha: Benefits, Uses, Modern Relevance Of The Ancient Wonder Herb

    In a world where stress seems to be an unavoidable companion on our daily journey, there's a humble herb that has quietly withstood the test of time, offering a sanctuary of calm and vitality amidst life's chaos. Ashwagandha is an ancient remedy that has transcended centuries, revered in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for its remarkable array of benefits. But ashwagandha isn't merely a relic of the past; it's also a modern-day marvel, capturing the attention of researchers and health enthusiasts alike for its potent properties and potential to enhance our well-being in numerous ways. 

    From the world of ancient India to the shelves of present-day contemporary wellness stores, ashwagandha has maintained its place as a cornerstone of holistic health practices. Its name, derived from Sanskrit, translates to "the smell of a horse," highlighting both its unique odor and its traditional use as a strength-enhancing tonic. But its significance reaches far beyond muscular prowess; ashwagandha is a multifaceted herb celebrated for its adaptogenic qualities, meaning it helps the body adapt to stressors and maintain balance. Stay tuned to know everything there is to know about ashwagandha according to the world of Ayurveda! 

    Different names as per Ayurveda 

    In English – Indian winter cherry, Poison gooseberry, Indian ginseng 

    In Hindi – Ashwagandha, Asgandh 

    In Sanskrit – Palashaparni, Ashwagandha, Vaji gandha, hayagandha 

    Shloka verse

     

    Dhanvantari nighantu- page no-148 shloka-11 

    Dhanvantari nighantu - guduchyadi varga - page no 64, shloka no 262-263 

     

    Charaka samhita- sutrasthana - kushthadi lepa- 3rd chapter - 8th 

    Charaka samhita - sutrasthana- 4th chapter - 2nd shloka - brmhaniya mahakashaya 

    Charaka Samhita - sutrasthana- 4th chapter - 7th shloka - Balya mahakashaya 

    1. Appearance of ashwagandha 

    ayurvedic benefits of ashwagandha

    Ashwagandha the magical herb, often referred to as "Indian ginseng" or "winter cherry," thrives in the dry regions of India, the Middle East, and parts of Africa. Its name, ashwagandha has been derived from Sanskrit with "ashwa" meaning horse and "gandha" meaning smell, signifying that it gives you the strength of a horse and it has a peculiar smell similar to horse sweat.  

    The woody shrub ashwagandha can reach a height of 35 to 75 cm. The branches of this plant grow dramatically from a central stalk. Its dull green leaves measure 10 to 12 centimeters in length. The flowers are circular and tiny. The greenish-yellow flowers are found in clusters that range in diameter from four to six mm. The fruits are red berries with a green calyx around them. The flesh of the long, tuberous, fragrant roots is yellowish green in color. 

    2. Ayurvedic properties of ashwagandha

    Rasa (Taste): Ashwagandha has 3 tastes contributing to the flavor profile which are katu (pungent), tikta (bitter), and kashya (astringent). 

    Guna (Quality): Ashwagandha has 2 primary qualities laghu (light) and snigdha (unctuous).  

    Veerya (Potency): Ashwagandha has a ushna (hot) potency, indicating a heating effect on the body.  

    Vipaka (taste developed through digestion): Post digestion ashwagandha retains its katu (pungent) taste.  

    3. Main Actions and Consumptions as per Ayurveda 

    Rasayana (Rejuvenator) 

    पीताऽश्वगन्धा पयसाऽर्धमासं घृतेन तैलेन सुखाम्बुना वा कृशस्य पुष्टिं वपुषो विधत्ते बालस्य सस्यस्य यथा सुवृष्टिः (.हृ.. 39/158) 

    Ashwagandha taken with milk or ghee, or oil or warm water for fifteen days will act as rasayana and increases the weight. 

    Sosa (Emaciation) 

    तदुत्थितं क्षीरघृतं सिताढ्यं प्रातः पिबेत् वाऽथ पयोऽनुपानम् ।। (सु.. 41/42) 

    Ghrita prepared from ashwagandha to be taken every morning or the milk processed with ashwagandha taken with sugar helps to relieve sosa. 

    Swasa (Dyspnoea) 

    क्षाराञ्चाप्यश्वगन्धाया लिह्यान्ना क्षौद्र सर्पिषा (.चि. 17/117) 

    The ksara (Alkali) of ashwagandha taken with honey and ghee is beneficial in swasa. 

    Garbhadharanartha (For conception) 

    क्वाथेन हयगन्धायाः साधितं सघृतं पयः ऋतुस्नाताऽबला पीत्वा गर्भं धत्ते संशय (भा.प्र.चि. 70/26) 

    Ghrita prepared from aswagandha kwatha (decoction) and milk should be consumed by the woman at the right time (Rtusnata) to help in conception. 

    Nidrajanak (sleep inducer)  

    Ashwagandha is indicated in cases of insomnia. It is also used widely as an anti-stress drug, thereby promoting sound sleep. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the potential health benefits of ashwagandha, particularly in the areas of stress management, cognitive function, and physical performance[1] 

    4. Parts used

    For ashwagandha, leaves and roots are the most widely used part of the herb.  

    What are the various medicinal uses of ashwagandha? 

    From strengthening the immune function and supporting cognitive health to promoting hormonal balance and fostering restful sleep, this botanical powerhouse offers a holistic approach to wellness that resonates with seekers of natural remedies and modern medicine practitioners alike. Read more to find out all medicinal uses of ashwagandha! 

    Balya (strength promoter) - Ashwagandha is an herb that is widely used as a strength promoting agent. It is recommended to promote bala (strength) in ayurveda, also called ojas - which is the essence of all the dhatus (body tissues)[2] 

    Rasayana (rejuvenator) - Ashwagandha is a very revered herb of the Indian ayurvedic system of medicine as a rasayana (tonic). It is used for various kinds of disease processes and especially as a nervine tonic[3] 

    Sukrala (promotes semen production) - Ashwagandha is considered as a shukrala or semenogogue, since it increases the production of semen. It has significant effects on sterility[4]. 

    Kantivardhaka (beauty enhancer) - This herb possesses anti-aging properties and is considered to increase the longevity of a person[5] 

    Nidranasa (insomnia)- Ashwagandha churņa mixed with sugar and ghee is very useful in nidranasa 

    चूर्ण हयगन्धायाः सितया सहितञ्च सर्पिषा लीढ़म् विदधाति नष्टनिद्रे निद्रामश्वेव सिद्धिमिदम्  

    (बं.से. जलदोषादि 13) 

    Pramehaghna (anti-diabetic) - There is evidence to suggest that ashwagandha supplementation may be helpful in infertility, anticancer and antidiabetic treatment. Studies have suggested that ashwagandha may exhibit cardioprotective properties[6] 

    Kasahara - Ashwagandha gives relief in cases of cough, cold and sore throat[6] 

    Kandughna - In a patient suffering with itching and burning sensation, this herb can provide relief to a considerable extent[6] 

    Besides the above-mentioned actions, ashwagandha also helps in reducing swelling (shophaghna), treating wounds (vranahara), switraghna (helps in skin disorders) and krimighna (anti-bacterial)[7] 

    Read more: Ashwagandha for your skin and body

    Currently research has been done on the benefits of ashwagandha human health including neuroprotective, sedative and adaptogenic effects and effects on sleep. There are also reports of anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, cardioprotective and anti-diabetic properties[6]. 

    5. Ashwagandha’s effect on the three doshas

    It helps in balancing Vata and Kapha dosha. 

    Vata: Vata is known for attributes like dryness, coolness, and movement, ashwagandha is especially helpful in regulating the Vata dosha. The nourishing and anchoring qualities of ashwagandha aid in Vata-balancing, lowering tension and anxiety while encouraging relaxation. 

    Kapha: Ashwagandha is so grounded and hefty, it can irritate Kapha dosha at times. For those who are Kapha, it might still be helpful in moderation because it increases vigor, boosts metabolism, and lessens sluggishness.  

    6. Side effects & cautionary information regarding ashwagandha 

    There are no specific precautions one must take while consuming ashwagandha apart from excess consumption which might imbalance the doshas and have adverse effects. 

    Pregnant and breastfeeding women – There are not many conclusive studies suggesting the effects of ashwagandha on pregnant and breastfeeding women, therefore it is advised to consume under the guidance of a medical professional. 

    Allergic reaction – Individuals who are allergic to ashwagandha should avoid its consumption. 

    7. Who all can benefit from the use of ashwagandha 

    Individuals with insomnia. 

    Individuals managing diabetics. 

    Individuals wanting to improve fertility. 

    Individuals wanting to increase their strength. 

    8. How to consume ashwagandha? 

    Ashwagandha can be consumed as churna with milk and ghee and honey or warm water which provides all the benefits but can have a tikta (bitter) taste which might be subjective to an individual's liking.  

    References  

    1. https://www.mdpi.com/2411-5142/6/1/20
    2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0378874121003287
    3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3252722/
    4. http://journalcra.com/sites/default/files/issue-pdf/45808.pdf
    5. https://www.jpccr.eu/Ashwagandha-Withania-somnifera-a-herb-with-versatile-medicinal-properties-empowering,141582,0,2.html
    6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10147008/
    7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3252722/ 

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