Ashwagandha may be one of the most important herbal remedies used in Ayurvedic medicine. It has been used by Native Americans, Africans and Indians for hundreds of years to treat fevers, infection and inflammation. Ashwagandha is considered an adaptogen, meaning that it may help to improve overall physical stamina and strength, while boosting immunity and enhancing performance. The herb contains important antioxidants and may have a number of health benefits, including increased cognitive ability, improving the immune system, relieving stress, anxiety and depression, and enhancing the male libido.
Scientific research into ashwagandha benefits suggests that the herb may increase stamina, endurance and physical and cognitive performance. Herbalists and researchers consider ashwagandha an adaptogen—for this reason, researchers believe that ashwagandha may increase energy levels, stimulate blood flow to major organs and strengthen immune response.
Researchers believe that ashwagandha contains powerful antioxidants, including superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase. These antioxidants may help prevent many types of cancer, boost the immune system and slow the signs of aging. Ashwagandha may also have tumor-fighting properties and may be useful in the treatment of cancer patients. It may be useful in the treatment of fevers, infections and inflammatory disorders such as arthritis.
Other ashwagandha benefits may include cognitive support and reductions in memory loss in Alzheimer's patients. Researchers believe that ashwagandha benefits the brain by increasing acetylcholine receptor activity. These receptors are responsible for maintaining high levels of cognitive ability and memory. Research suggests that ashwagandha may stimulate the growth of neurons in the brain and may lead to enhanced cognitive performance.
Further research suggests that ashwagandha supplements may behave in a manner similar to GABA, the neurotransmitter responsible for sleep, rest and relaxation. For this reason, researchers feel that ashwagandha benefits may include relief of anxiety, depression and insomnia. Ashwagandha has been used traditionally to enhance male sexual function, and may have aphrodisiac properties as well.
Ashwagandha has been used traditionally as a tonic medication for the pulmonary and cardiovascular systems. Researchers believe that ashwagandha may help to regulate blood pressure and reduce cholesterol levels. Research suggests that ashwagandha benefits may include reduced blood glucose levels as well as a reduction in insulin resistance in patients with type 2 diabetes. For this reason, researchers and herbalists believe that ashwagandha may be an herbal supplement that can benefit those with type 2 diabetes.