Herbal Supplements

Ashwagandha: Benefits, Side-Effects & Scientific Studies

ashwagandha

An Insight into Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha, a powerful herb native to India and North Africa, has been used for thousands of years in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. Known for its adaptogenic properties, it’s gained significant interest in the scientific community for its potential health benefits. This article aims to provide an in-depth look at ashwagandha.

What is Ashwagandha?

Scientifically known as Withania somnifera, ashwagandha is a small shrub with yellow flowers. Its roots and orange-red fruit have been used for medicinal purposes for millennia. The word “ashwagandha” is Sanskrit for “smell of the horse,” referring to its unique smell and the belief that consuming it may give the strength and vitality of a horse.

Ashwagandha is classified as an adaptogen, meaning it can help the body manage stress. It’s also used for various other health conditions, including arthritis, anxiety, insomnia, and chronic fatigue.

Historical Use of Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha has a rich history in Ayurveda, a holistic and natural system of medicine that originated in India over 3,000 years ago. It was traditionally used for its rejuvenating and tonifying properties and was believed to impart strength and vitality.

Modern Research on Ashwagandha

In recent years, ashwagandha has attracted the attention of the scientific community. Numerous studies have explored its potential health benefits, shedding light on this ancient herb’s medicinal properties.

Ashwagandha and Stress

Ashwagandha is perhaps best known for its potential to reduce stress and anxiety. A study published in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine found that ashwagandha root extract safely and effectively improves an individual’s resistance towards stress and thereby improves self-assessed quality of life.

Ashwagandha and Cognitive Function

Research has also explored the effects of ashwagandha on cognitive function. A study published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements found that ashwagandha root extract enhances both immediate and general memory in people with mild cognitive impairment.

Ashwagandha and Physical Performance

Ashwagandha’s potential impact on physical performance has been the subject of several studies. A study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition showed that ashwagandha supplementation is associated with significant increases in muscle mass and strength.

Ashwagandha and Immune Function

The potential immune-boosting effects of ashwagandha have also been investigated. A review in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology suggested that ashwagandha possesses immunomodulatory activities and can stimulate immune system components.

How to Take Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha, a potent herb used in Ayurvedic medicine, has been gaining attention for its potential health benefits. Known for its adaptogenic properties, ashwagandha can help the body manage stress and improve overall wellbeing. However, knowing how to take ashwagandha can be confusing due to the variety of available forms and dosages. This article will provide a comprehensive guide on how to take ashwagandha.

Different Forms of Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is available in several forms, including capsules, powders, and liquid extracts. Each form offers the same underlying benefits, but the method of consumption and dosage may vary.

Ashwagandha Capsules

Ashwagandha capsules are a popular choice due to their convenience. They provide a pre-measured dose of ashwagandha, making them easy to incorporate into a daily routine. The capsules are typically taken with water, either with or without food.

Ashwagandha Powder

Ashwagandha powder offers a more versatile option. It can be mixed into warm water or milk and consumed as a tea. Alternatively, it can be added to smoothies or other foods. The taste of ashwagandha is somewhat bitter, so mixing it with a sweetener like honey can make it more palatable.

Ashwagandha Liquid Extracts

Liquid extracts are another form of ashwagandha. They are usually taken by adding a few drops to water or juice. Some people prefer liquid extracts because they can be easier to digest than capsules or powders.

Dosage Recommendations

The recommended dosage of ashwagandha can depend on various factors, including the specific health concern being addressed, the individual’s age and overall health, and the form of ashwagandha being used.

A common starting dose is 300-500 mg per day, with some studies using doses up to 600-1200 mg per day. However, it’s always best to start with a lower dose to assess tolerance before gradually increasing the amount.

It’s important to note that while ashwagandha is generally considered safe for most people, some individuals may experience side effects such as upset stomach, diarrhoea, and drowsiness. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid ashwagandha due to potential risks.

Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen. They can provide personalised advice based on your specific health needs and circumstances.

Timing and Consistency

When to take ashwagandha can depend on the specific reason for usage. Some people prefer to take it in the morning for a start-of-day boost, while others find it helpful to take in the evening due to its potential calming effects.

Consistency is key when taking ashwagandha. Regular, consistent use over an extended period is generally needed to experience its full benefits.

Safety and Side Effects of Ashwagandha: An In-Depth Look

Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera, is a herb extensively used in Ayurvedic medicine. While it has been traditionally used for centuries and is generally considered safe, like any supplement, it’s essential to understand its potential side effects. This article will discuss the safety and side effects of ashwagandha.

Common Side Effects of Ashwagandha

While ashwagandha is generally well-tolerated, some individuals may experience side effects. These can include:

Digestive issues: Some people may experience stomach upset, diarrhoea, or vomiting when taking ashwagandha. These side effects are more likely with higher doses.

Drowsiness: Ashwagandha may cause drowsiness, particularly in individuals who are sensitive to its effects. This is why some people prefer to take it in the evening.

Less Common Side Effects of Ashwagandha

In addition to the above, there are some less common side effects associated with ashwagandha.

Changes in Blood Sugar Levels: Ashwagandha might lower blood sugar levels, which could interfere with medications used for diabetes. Therefore, people with diabetes should monitor their blood sugar levels closely when using ashwagandha.

Changes in Blood Pressure: Ashwagandha might decrease blood pressure levels. This could be a problem for people with low blood pressure or those taking medication to control high blood pressure.

Thyroid Hormone Levels: Ashwagandha might increase thyroid hormone levels. People with thyroid conditions or those taking thyroid medication should use ashwagandha cautiously.

Safety Considerations

While ashwagandha is generally considered safe for most people, certain individuals should use it with caution.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Ashwagandha is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women due to insufficient safety data.

Autoimmune Diseases: People with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and type 1 diabetes should use ashwagandha cautiously as it might cause the immune system to become more active.

Surgery: Because ashwagandha might slow down the central nervous system, there’s a concern that it could interfere with surgical procedures. It’s advised to stop taking ashwagandha at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.

As with any supplement, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional before starting to take ashwagandha, especially for those with underlying health conditions or those taking other medications.

Dosage and Quality Matters

The dosage of ashwagandha can significantly impact its safety and potential side effects. Most studies have used dosages between 300 mg to 1200 mg daily, divided into two or three doses. It’s generally recommended to start with a lower dose and gradually increase as tolerated.

The quality of ashwagandha supplements can also vary. Always look for products from reputable manufacturers that have been independently tested for quality and purity.

Is Ashwagandha Halal and Suitable for Muslims? An In-depth Exploration

Ashwagandha, also known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry, is a plant that has been widely used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. This article explores whether Ashwagandha is halal and suitable for Muslims.

Overview of Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is a small shrub native to India and North Africa. It’s renowned for its medicinal properties, particularly its ability to reduce stress and anxiety, improve concentration, and boost energy levels.

Understanding Halal

Halal is an Arabic term meaning ‘permissible’ and refers to anything that is allowed according to Islamic law as defined in the Quran. The concept is most commonly applied to food and drink, but it can also extend to all aspects of life, including medicine and dietary supplements.

Is Ashwagandha Halal?

Based on available information, the Ashwagandha plant itself is halal. It is a natural product without any inherently haram (forbidden) substances. However, whether a specific Ashwagandha product is halal can depend on several factors, such as the way it is processed, any additional ingredients used, and the potential for cross-contamination with haram substances.

Processing and Additional Ingredients

Even if the Ashwagandha plant is halal, the processing methods or additional ingredients used in a particular supplement could potentially make it haram. For example, if an Ashwagandha supplement contains gelatine in its capsules, the supplement would not be halal unless the gelatine is sourced from a halal-certified animal.

Risk of Cross-Contamination

Cross-contamination is another factor to consider. If an Ashwagandha supplement is produced in a facility that also processes haram substances, there could be a risk of cross-contamination.

How to Ensure an Ashwagandha Product is Halal

To ensure an Ashwagandha supplement is halal, look for products that have been certified as halal by a reputable certification body. These organisations inspect the sourcing, processing, and packaging processes to ensure they meet Islamic dietary laws.

Several companies offer halal-certified Ashwagandha supplements. Always look for the halal certification logo on the packaging, and if in doubt, contact the manufacturer or certification body for confirmation.

While the Ashwagandha plant itself is halal, whether a specific Ashwagandha supplement is halal can depend on various factors such as the processing methods, additional ingredients, and the risk of cross-contamination. To ensure a product is halal, look for supplements that have been certified by a reputable halal certification body. As always, when considering taking any new supplement, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional.