Ashwagandha extract comes from the Indian herb of the same name. Scientifically known as Withania somnifera, it is used as a dietary supplement to treat mood disorders, diabetes, and other health concerns. The extract may also help support the immune system and body vitality in general.
Other names for ashwagandha extract include Indian ginseng, Kanaje Hindi, and winter cherry. Medical studies indicate that the medicinal plant may be able to help treat diabetes. The herb was able to help treat rats with insulin issues and hypoglycemia in these trials. Some claim that the herbal supplement can help improve sexual dysfunction as well.
Typically used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha extract has been used as a general health tonic for many years in India. The most common use of ashwagandha extract is as a mood stabilizer. Results from stressors, such as mental strain, poor sleeping habits, and poor diet, can be lessened with the herb. Fatigue and poor memory may also be remedied by the extract.
Some studies have shown that ashwagandha extract may restrict the growth of certain cancers, such as those of the lungs, breasts, and colon. Scientists hypothesize that these benefits are due to the presence of antioxidants within the plant. The anti-inflammatory supplement may also be helpful in treating arthritis. Some people use the extract for improving mental clarity.
Recommendations for taking ashwagandha extract vary. Some herbalists say one to two capsules daily should be taken for best effect. Others say that taking a supplement once a day will suffice. A break between taking capsules once or twice a week is also sometimes recommended. A physician's advice can help people who wish to take the extract make an informed decision on how often and when to take it.
For most people, ashwagandha extract is considered safe for daily use. Women who are pregnant, may become pregnant, or nursing should avoid the nutritional supplement. People who take sedatives or who have hyperthyroidism should also refrain from taking an ashwagandha supplement, as it may cause a negative interaction with certain medications. Other ashwagandha side effects may include drowsiness, flatulence, a heavy feeling in the stomach, and an increased feeling of warmth in the body.
A member of the Solanaceae family, Ashwagandha can be found growing in Africa, Sri Lanka, India, and Pakistan. While not native to North America, the shrub is also cultivated there. The plant grows yellow flowers and small, berry-sized red fruits.