''One obtains longevity, regains youth, gets a sharp memory and intellect and freedom from diseases, gets a lustrous complexion, and strength of a horse." Wondering which herb the Ayurvedic scholar Charaka is referring to?
Commonly known as the "King of Ayurvedic Herbs," ashwagandha has been used for ailments of the human mind and body for over 5000 years. But how much do we know about this magical herb? In this article, let's understand the properties of ashwagandha, its uses, its health benefits, and compatible herbs.
Arguably the most commonly used Ayurvedic herb, the Sanskrit word "ashwagandha" literally translates to "smell of the horse," wherein ashwa means horse and gandha means fragrance. This meaning holds importance mainly because it refers to the overpowering smell of the root. Traditionally, Ayurvedic scholars believed that this medicinal herb brings you immense strength and stamina a horse possesses.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), which belongs to the Solanaceae family, is also known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry because it has a small red-orange fruit that looks similar to a cherry tomato. This adaptogenic shrub is traditionally found inIndia, North Africa, and the Middle East.
Classified as a Rasayana (rejuvenating) and Balya (strengthening) herb, the optimal use of ashwagandha helps increase your lifespan. As an adaptogen, it meets three specific criteria - reduces and regulates stress, restores physiological function, and promotes a youthful state of being.
Properties of Ashwagandha:
Guna (quality) - Laghu (light) and Snighda (oily)
Rasa (taste) - Madhur (sweet)
Veerya (potency) - Ushna (hot)
Ayurvedic and scientific studies have elaborated several benefits of the medicinal herb ashwagandha. Some of them are elucidated below:
For Better Cognitive Function: Belonging to the sub-group known as medhya rasayanas, wherein medhya refers to intellectual or mental capacity, ashwagandha promotes memory. A recent study showed that those who took ashwagandha extracts for eight weeks could focus better and had a longer attention span, and improved information-processing speed. The consistent use of this herb helps improve memory and overall task performance.
For Stress Relief: As per a scientific study, ashwagandha helps balance the levels of cortisol, the steroid stress hormone, and heat shock proteins (Hsp70), which can increase significantly when you become stressed or anxious. As an adaptogen, it boosts the adrenal system. A study also revealed that ashwagandha had the same anxiety-reducing effect as the drug lorazepam, a sedative and anxiety medication. It has also been shown to be useful in the prevention of stress-induced ulcers of the gastrointestinal tract.
For Overall Immunity: As one of the most potent herbs for good health, ashwagandha has been used for over 5000 years to help build the body's natural immune system by improving cell-mediated immunity. There isexperimental evidnece of a strengthened immune system in animals treated with ashwagandha. This herb was proven to enhance muscle mass, strength, and recovery.
For A Healthy Heart: Ashwagandha is often used to lower high blood pressure, ease chest pain, and lower bad cholesterol levels. Studies have shown that when combined with the herb arjuna, it can improve the endurance of blood vessels. Ashwagandha root extract can also improvecardiorespiratory endurance.
For Improved Reproductive Health: Studies have revealed that ashwagandha supplements help improve male fertility by increasing testosterone levels and libido. Additionally, the appropriate use of this medicinal herb was also shown to increase semen volume, sperm concentration, and sperm motility.
READ MORE: Ashwagandha for Sexual Strength
For Treating Insomnia: With its sleep-inducing properties, ashwagandha has been traditionally used to promote a healthy dincharya (daily routine). Modern research backs this claim with evidence from clinical trials showing that this herb promotes mental awareness while significantly improving sleep.
READ MORE: Will Ashwagandha Help You Sleep?
For Treating Arthritis: Acting as a pain reliever, ashwagandha can prevent pain signals from being transmitted across the central nervous system. Along with its anti-inflammatory properties, ashwagandha was shown to help treat certain forms of arthritis in some studies.
As a superfood and nervine tonic, ashwagandha promotes radiant and healthy skin by helping the body withstand stress. It contains high levels of antioxidants and alkaloids that act on the nervous system to promote healthy skin and hair. With various medicinal properties, this ancient herb has innumerable benefits:
Helps Fight Acne and Inflammation: Owing to its anti-inflammatory properties, ashwagandha helps reduce the formation of acne. This herb also contains withanolides that help cleanse dirt and grime from the pores of your skin while controlling excessive sebum production. With powerful antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, ashwagandha helps reduce redness and inflammation while healing acne scars.
Keeps Skin Allergies at Bay: Owing to its anti-inflammatory properties, ashwagandha is a wonder herb that helps control skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. It represses C-reactive protein levels, which are sensitive markers that help the body ward off infections. It also boosts the skin turnover rate while promoting healing. It is a boon for dry and infection-prone skin.
Acts as an Anti-Aging Hero: It is a scientifically known fact that the aging and lifespan of healthy cells are linked to telomerase shortening- a mechanism that limits the rapid increase of human cells. Ashwagandha was proven to enhance telomerase activity and boost cell renewal and repair with collagen production. Being a rich source of antioxidants, it also reduces the appearance of wrinkles and hyperpigmentation.
Helps Reduce UV Damage and Oxidative Stress: Excessive exposure to the sun's harmful rays may trigger keratosis, making the skin dry and rough. This can also cause the formation of sunspots. Being rich in antioxidants, ashwagandha helps control keratosis, thus reducing free-radical damage or damage caused by the sun while making the skin supple and soft.
Acts as a Moisturizing Agent: Ashwagandha contains hydrating agents that enhance the production of hyaluronan and elastin to help moisturize the skin while keeping it firm. It also boosts the production of DHEA or dehydroepiandrosterone, which is a precursor to testosterone and estrogen and ensures the healthy production of sebum. The regular use of this herb can bless you with radiant, supple skin.
Helps Strengthen the Skin and Body: By promoting the production of skin-tightening compounds such as elastin, which help make the skin firm, ashwagandha gives your skin the strength it needs. A study revealed that the regular use of ashwagandha helps enhance athletic performance, including physical strength and oxygen supply.
Ashwagandha is a powerful herb on its own, but you may wonder if it can be mixed with other potent medicinal herbs. The answer is yes! Certain plants work wonders when combined with ashwagandha. Their benefits are listed as follows:
With its therapeutic appeal, Mulethi or licorice, is a traditional herb known to be sweeter than sugar. Both mulethi and ashwagandha have strong anti-inflammatory properties and can help manage joint pain and swelling. Licorice also containsglabridin, which prevents hyperpigmentation and reduces chronic acne. When combined with ashwagandha, it can bolster strength and energy while promoting longevity and promoting radiant skin.
A crystal-like rare plant product, camphor has a strong pungent odor. This Chandrabhasma or moon powder is sheet virya or cooling in nature. When combined with the ashwagandha and used appropriately, it can work wonders. It helps reduce pains and aches in the body. When applied locally and in the correct form, it can soothe the skin while reducing acne and acne scars with its cooling properties.
With its antibacterial and antioxidant properties, this kitchen staple gives you flawless-looking radiant skin. The phytochemicals present in these tiny pods work wonders in giving you acne-free, younger-looking skin. Being a rich source of vitamin C, cardamom also helps promote blood circulation while improving skin health when consumed regularly. When mixed with ashwagandha, it can help relieve stress and overall fatigue.
Manjistha (Indian madder)
Owing to its powerful effect on the lymphatic system, manjistha is a potent herb for keeping the skin healthy. Manjistha and ashwagandha both have an abundance of antioxidants, and therefore purify the blood while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. They radically change your complexion by lowering melanin levels and keeping the skin free from pigmentation.
The combination of Triphala literally translates to three fruits - Amalaki (Indian gooseberry), Haritaki (belleric myrobalan), and Bibhitaki (chebulic myrobalan). Since both triphala and ashwagandha are rich in antioxidant, antibacterial, and antimicrobial compounds, these powerful herbs rejuvenate the skin while keeping inflammation at bay. This combination also moisturizes the skin, giving it a renewed sheen.
The use of ashwagandha, an Ayurvedic medicinal herb, is associated with the intuitive wisdom to heal while strengthening your physical and emotional well-being. This time-tested plant has been used for centuries, and modern science is only beginning to unearth its rejuvenating properties. Right from protecting you from sun damage to giving you glowing skin, from stabilizing your central nervous system to helping you sleep better, ashwagandha evokes a true sense of well-being from within.
As an incredibly versatile herb, it can be used in the form of a face pack, churna, taila, liquid extract such as in a tea, or even a tablet.
Some of our products you can try, that have Ashwagandha in them Arnash Ayurvedic Bath Salt - Arjuna-Ashwagandha Himalayan Bath Immersion | Mom's Ayurvedic Soup - With Yellow Lentils and Ashwagandha | Ashwaro Body Oleator
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