Ashwagandha is a shrub with oval leaves and yellow flowers that belongs to the same family as a tomato. It is native to India, northern Africa and the Middle East but can also be grown in parts of the United States.
The benefits of this herb are vast and varied. It protects the immune system, reduces symptoms of stress, improves brain function such as memory, learning and reaction time, it reduces anxiety and depression, reduces brain-cell degeneration, stabilizes blood sugars, lowers cholesterol, is an anti-inflammatory, and enhances sex drive in both men and women.
It has even been known to help with such diseases as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s and Creutzfeldt-Jakob by slowing, stopping, reversing or even removing neuritic atrophy and synaptic loss in the brain. There is evidence that it helps with Diabetes, tumors, Tuberculosis, liver problems, Fibromyalgia, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)[i]. And, there is evidence that it helps reduce immunosuppression in cancer patients while reducing stress and fatigue during chemotherapy[ii].
How to Use It
An effective dose can be as little as 50 to 100mg. For most, 300 to 500mg, three times per day is recommended for ongoing use. You can take as much as 2,000mg three times per day for acute situations. It typically comes in capsule form but can be found in powder form as well. It is best to take it with meals. If taken just once per day, take it with breakfast in the mornings.
If you are already taking medications of any kind, ashwagandha may interfere with their effectiveness. Because it lowers blood pressure, there may be side effects for those who already have low blood pressure. Do not take it with sedatives or anti-anxiety medications. Do not take it if you are taking digoxin. Do not use it you have a stomach ulcer. Stop taking this herb at least 2 weeks before surgery. Ashwagandha may increase symptoms of autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Avoid this herb if you have a thyroid condition.
[i] Mishra, L, Singh, B., Dagenais, S. Scientific Basis for the Therapeutic Use of Withania somnifer (Ashwagandha): A Review. Alternative Medicine Review. Vol 5 (2000), pp. 334 – 346
[ii] Examine.com, (2014). Weblink: http://examine.com/supplements/Ashwagandha/#summary1-1