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Ashwagandha: A guide for Beginners

All kinds of natural ingredients are finding their way into exercise and workout supplements, As we discover natural medicines from around the world, we keep finding things that are fantastic for weight loss and exercise. Ashwagandha is one of these natural medicines.

Ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub that is native to India, the Middle East, and parts of Africa. It has orange-red roots and fruits. The roots and fruit of Ashwagandha have been a feature of traditional medicine in these regions of the world for centuries. 

Sometimes called “Indian ginseng,” Ashwagandha has a distinctive smell. Its name is derived from the word that means “horse” due to this smell. Maybe not the most appetizing name, but the effects of Ashwagandha are many and they are proven. 

Scientists and practitioners are now finding that ashwagandha has real benefits for health and fitness. The drive to turn to natural supplements and medicine for treating medical conditions and to help us stay healthy had brought ashwagandha into the western mainstream. 

What exactly is ashwagandha? What are the benefits of ashwagandha? And how do you include ashwagandha in your diet and exercise regimen? This guide will give you all the information you need to get started with ashwagandha and how to use ashwagandha safely and effectively. 

What is Ashwagandha?

As we noted above, ashwagandha is indigenous to India, the Middle East, and parts of Africa. The effective part of ashwagandha is the root and the fruits. Historically, ashwagandha has been a staple in Ayurvedic medicine which uses herbs, special diets, and other natural practices to enhance health and to treat all manner of medical conditions. Ayurvedic medicine is an ancient practice that grew out of traditional healing methods and practices. 

In ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha is considered one of the most important herbs available. It is used to treat a wide array of conditions. In the ayurvedic system, ashwagandha is used to treat the following conditions:

The roots of the ashwagandha are used to treat these conditions, but the fruits, leaves, and seeds are also used to treat still more conditions. 

Now ashwagandha is sold in the form of a supplement to treat all of the above conditions. What is more, there is no scientific evidence to back up the claims that come with the use of ashwagandha. As we will see below, the experience of centuries of traditional health care practitioners stands up to the rigors of modern science. 

Ashwagandha health benefits

Modern science has shown that ashwagandha is effective in treating a number of conditions. The research on ashwagandha is still new, but the results so far are extremely promising. Here are some of the benefits of ashwagandha. 

Treating Anxiety

It has long been known that ashwagandha has a calming effect that is strikingly similar to the kinds we associate with medicines like Lorazepam without having the dangerous side effects and potential for habitual use that comes with pharmaceuticals. 

In one study, ashwagandha was shown to relieve some forms of anxiety on a par with pharmaceutical sedatives. The research is still in preliminary phases but we can already see that ashwagandha is effective in alleviating anxiety. 

In another study that tracked subjects for two months, researchers found that a group that was given a supplement that included ashwagandha experienced a 69 percent reduction of anxiety and a drastic reduction in insomnia over a control group that did not receive the supplement. 

Arthritis Treatment

In the ayurvedic system, ashwagandha has been widely accepted as an effective pain reliever. It is believed that ashwagandha blocks signals sent by nerves that register pain. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that work with this pain-relieving effect. Since ashwagandha relieves pain by blocking the neurotransmission of pain signals to the brain rather than by following the path of a narcotic, it does not present the risk of dependency we find in narcotic drugs.  

Research has now shown that ashwagandha is effective in treating the pain and other symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. 

Can help treat depression

This is also in preliminary studies but ashwagandha may help treat depression. In a study that observed more than 60 adults who suffer from depression, researchers found that a high-concentration dose of ashwagandha every day helped reduce symptoms of depression by as much as 70 percent. These were symptoms of severe depression that were responsive to ashwagandha. 

Can fight cancer

Ayurvedic medical practitioners have used ashwagandha to fight diseases like cancer for centuries—even before they knew the exact nature of cancer. It turns out that ashwagandha contains a chemical called withaferin. This chemical helps induce a condition called apoptosis which is the programmed death of cancer cells. This same chemical can inhibit the growth of cancer cells.   

The withaferin in ashwagandha promotes the formation of a specific formation of oxygen (ROS) inside cancer cells. This disrupts the function of these cells. By altering the function of cancer at the cellular level, ashwagandha can literally kill cancer cells. 

Some early studies have shown ashwagandha to be effective in helping to treat breast, lung, colon, and ovarian cancer.  

Maintain heart health

Evidence shows that ashwagandha is effective in treating conditions associated with heart disease. These conditions include high blood pressure and high cholesterol. 

A recent study showed that ashwagandha actually promotes and increases the strength of the heart muscle tissue itself. 

Can reduce cortisol levels. 

Cortisol is known as the stress hormone. Our adrenal glands release cortisol when we experience stress or when our blood sugar gets too low. In some cases, cortisol levels can become chronically high and this can lead to high blood sugar and increased fat storage. 

Research shows that ashwagandha reduces levels of cortisol in the bloodstream. A study in chronically stressed adults found that those who supplemented with ashwagandha showed a 30 percent reduction in cortisol levels over those who did not take an ashwagandha supplement. 

Can increase muscle mass

Research already suggests that an ashwagandha supplement can increase muscle mass and build strength. Participants who took part in a study of ashwagandha as a sports supplement showed significant gains in muscle strength in as little as 30 days by taking an ashwagandha supplement. 

In another study, participants who took ashwagandha not only built more muscle but also showed substantial losses of fat. 

Improves brain function

Studies show that ashwagandha can help improve memory and help repair damage from brain injuries. Research all suggests that ashwagandha is effective in repairing memory loss from injury and can improve normal brain function in healthy people. Some of these effects are from the high levels of antioxidants found in ashwagandha that help reduce free radicals that can damage brain cells. These same effects can help reduce the damage brought on from neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. 

In another study, doctors found that ashwagandha was useful in restoring spatial impairment caused by epilepsy. 

In a controlled study, researchers found that men who took a standardized extract of ashwagandha demonstrated substantial increases in reaction time and task performance. Those who did not take the ashwagandha supplement showed no such improvements. 

Can boost testosterone levels in men

Ashwagandha can increase testosterone levels and men and help with fertility issues. This is great for reproductive health. 

Studies of men who have taken ashwagandha supplements showed that it increases sperm counts and sperm motility. For men who are having reproductive problems, ashwagandha can help/ This increase in sperm count and motility is attributed to increased levels of testosterone and its effects on reproductive health. 

Side effects of Ashwagandha

Since there has not been that much research on ashwagandha, not much is known about side effects. It is widely considered safe in low to medium doses, and the ayurvedic practices report real side effects. 

As with any supplement, natural or otherwise, be careful taking ashwagandha if you are pregnant or nursing. 

Ayurvedic medicine and natural supplements are not regulated by the FDA. If you plan to take ashwagandha, make sure you get your supplements from a reputable source.  

Ashwagandha interactions

Ashwagandha has no known drug interactions. 

Ashwagandha dosage

If you buy ashwagandha from a reputable source you can be assured of the concentrations of the active ingredients. The dosage of ashwagandha will vary according to the reason you are taking it. As a general rule, anywhere from 250 mg to 500 mg is conserved safe and effective. 

Take about 250 mg per day to begin and monitor the results you are after. If you feel you need to increase the dose you can safely go up to 600 mg per day. 

Ashwagandha FAQs 

What is ashwagandha? 

Ashwagandha is indigenous to India, the Middle East, and parts of Africa. The effective part of ashwagandha is the root and the fruits.

What is the origin of ashwagandha? 

Historically, ashwagandha has been a staple in Ayurvedic medicine which uses herbs, special diets, and other natural practices to enhance health and to treat all manner of medical conditions. Ayurvedic medicine is an ancient practice that grew out of traditional healing methods and practices. 

How does ashwagandha work? 

The roots of ashwagandha are dried and sometimes the liquid portion of the root is extracted to produce a supplement that can be taken like any other medicine or health supplement. 

What are the health benefits of ashwagandha? 

Ashwagandha has been used in ayurvedic medicine for centuries to treat everything from anxiety to heart condition. It is now being studied by clinical science and is known to be effective in treating anxiety, heart disease, brain function problems, and even cancer. 

How do I take ashwagandha? 

You can purchase supplements in the form of a capsule from health and exercise supply retailers.

What is the dose of ashwagandha? 

The general range of dosage for ashwagandha is between 250 mg to 500 mg per day. 

Does ashwagandha have any side effects? 

There are no known side effects associated with taking ashwagandha. 

Natural Burn 

You can begin using ashwagandha as a regular supplement to your workout, exercise, and diet routines with Natural Burn from NF Sports

Natural Burn goes beyond using high amounts of synthetic caffeine that can cause crashing in favor of natural caffeine sources.

We all want to finally take control of our weight, but we're bombarded with constantly changing diet trends and synthetic products when we look for ways to do so. But we can all agree that the best way to achieve our goals is the most natural way. At NF Sports we believe in creating supplements with natural ingredients that are backed by science to help you achieve your goals. That's why Natural Burn forgoes using high amounts of synthetic caffeine that can cause crashing in favor of natural caffeine sources like green coffee bean and green tea. In Natural Burn you will find herbal extracts to support your weight management goals via healthy energy levels, promoting a healthy stress response, appetite control, and calorie burning

Conclusion 

The world of natural medicine and traditional healing has given us many gifts. Ashwagandha is perhaps one of the best of these gifts. Ashwagandha has been known and used in Ayurvedic medical practices for centuries. 

The many health benefits of ashwagandha are well-documented among those who practice ayurvedic medicine. Everything from stress to diabetes was treated at least partially with ashwagandha with tremendous results. 

Now, modern medicine has taken notice of the many benefits of ashwagandha. Rigorous studies and numerous research projects have shown conclusive proof that ashwagandha is a powerful healing herb. Medical science has shown that ashwagandha can be used to treat anxiety, often as well as pharmaceutical treatments. It can also be used to help fight cancer and heart disease. 

NF Sports has utilized the power of ashwagandha to provide you with one of the best natural sports supplements available. By combining the wisdom of ancient medicine with the scientific knowledge we gain from modern medicine, we can now make use of ashwagandha is a reliable supplement that can be used for health and fitness. 

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