Ashwagandha is one of the powerful herbs of Ayurveda. It is used as a remedy in Ayurveda for a wide variety of diseases like anxiety, depression, insomnia, weight gain, weight loss etc. It is helpful in enhancing immunity, muscle strength, body building, sexual stimulation and works as an anti-oxidant.
Botanical name: Withania somnifera
Ayurveda explains the pharmacology of the herbs in terms of taste and quality.
As per ancient Ayurvedic texts, Ashwagandha has the below mentioned qualities:
Taste– pungent, spicy, bitter and slightly astringent
Qualities– oiliness, unctuousness, lightness (easy to digest)
Taste conversion after digestion – Undergoes pungent taste conversion after digestion.
Potency – Hot
Effect on Tridosha – Balances Tridosha, especially Kapha and Vata.
Ashwagandha being hot, nourishing and unctuous, helps to counter the cold and dry qualities of Vata Dosha.
It has spicy, bitter and lightness qualities, which are opposite to Kapha Dosha.
Because of its hotness and spicy taste, it improves digestion strength and also promotes Pitta Dosha.
Root is the mainly used part. The leaves are often used in weight loss therapy.
It’s Kshara – An Alkali: The whole plant of Ashwagandha is burnt in open air, ash is mixed with water and mixed thoroughly and left undisturbed for a couple of hours. The supernatant water is decanted out and the precipitated power is collected, heated, dried and powdered. This Alkali is used for the purpose of weight loss.
Ashwagandha Capsule or tablet:
250 – 500 mg, once or twice a day, based on doctor’s advice.
When Ashwagandha powder, tablet or capsule is administered, some people feel a burning sensation if taken before food or on an empty stomach. Hence, it is best to take it 30 minutes after food.
Ashwagandha milk remedy or Ashwagandha with ghee can be administered before food as well, based on your doctor’s advice.
There is a very famous group of 8 herbs, called Ashtavarga, known to carry very high rejuvenation and anti-aging qualities. But these herbs grow only in certain parts of Himalaya and are found very rarely. So, centuries ago, ancient Ayurvedic masters have explained substitutes for these 8 herbs.
These are the two herbs that are legally substituted with Ashwagandha due to similarity in their qualities.
This clearly proves the anti-aging prowess of Ashwagandha.
As per Ayurvedic textbooks, Ashwagandha has the following health benefits:
The somniferin is the chemical constituent of the drug and is well known for its sedative and anxiolytic effect. Due to its sedative benefits, the roots are used in the treatment of anxiety, nervousness, fatigue, giddiness, fainting, loss of sleep etc. It has shown very significant benefit for the treatment of premature ejaculation resulted due to anxiety.
Other important chemical constituents of Withania somnifera are:
Ashwagandha in Hashimoto thyroiditis / hypothyroidism, would effectively address the symptoms of stress, weight gain, muscle pain, joint pains, depression etc.
The regular dose (needs approval by consulting Ayurvedic doctor) for this is – half a teaspoon (3 g) at night, with a cup of milk or water, 10 minutes after food.
Ashwagandha can be useful for children to improve growth etc. But, it should only be administered under medical supervision.
If it is taken for boosting health and immunity, it can be continued for a period of 4 – 8 weeks’ time.
A double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial in Ashwagandha has proven that treatment with Ashwagandha may be beneficial for normalizing thyroid indices in subclinical hypothyroid patients.
Ashwagandha is useful in many of the symptoms of hypothyroidism such as -
If used alone, for example, consuming only Ashwagandha capsule with water, it tends to worsen gastritis in people with sensitive stomach. It also causes constipation in a few.
Because of its innate hot nature, people with Pitta dominance, feel increased hotness with Ashwagandha capsule.
But if it is taken along with milk or ghee, usually this side effect is very much nullified.
Sedative effect: In a very high dose, it may have mild sedative effect. Its sleep promotion effect can be more attributed to its anti-anxiety and anti-depression properties than to its sedative effect.
Some people also observe constipation, loose stools, abdominal cramps, and drowsiness.
It can be used safely for children and lactating mother, under medical supervision.
It is best to avoid this during pregnancy.
It, being a Rasayana herb (anti-aging), as such there are no definitive contra-indications. Below mentioned symptoms should be noticed when you consume Ashwagandha.
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