By Lina Stoyanova

Well, say that five times fast. What is ashwagandha? Simply put, ashwagandha is a plant and the root and berry are used to make medicine. It’s used to reduce levels of fat and sugar in the blood and it’s also used as an adaptogen to help the body cope with daily stress. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a herb used in Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India. Its root has a horsey smell (in Sanskrit, ashva means “horse” and gandha means “smell”) and is said to confer the strength and virility of a horse. Various parts of the plant are used, but the most common in supplements is an extract of its roots.

If you’re like me, you probably haven’t heard of ashwagandha until recently. Though I certainly can’t read through every piece of research ever published, it’s clear ashwagandha has immense health benefits. Historically, the roots of ashwagandha have been used to treat the following: arthritis, constipation, skin conditions, insomnia, stress, gastrointestinal issues, diabetes, nervous breakdowns, fevers, snake bites and memory loss.

Benefits

Here are 12 benefits of ashwagandha that are supported by science (feel free to conduct research to learn more about the studies and their outcomes):

1. It’s an ancient medicinal herb that helps with healing (relieves stress, increases energy and improves concentration).

2. It reduces blood sugar levels through its effects on insulin secretion and sensitivity.

3. It has anti-cancer properties; animal and test-tube studies have shown that ashwagandha promotes the death of tumour cells and may be effective against several types of cancer.

4. It can reduce cortisol levels.

5. Helps reduce stress and anxiety (shown in both animal and human studies).

6. Reduces symptoms of depression.

7. It can boost testosterone and increase fertility in men.

8. It increases muscle mass and strength in men.

9. Reduces inflammation.

10. Lowers cholesterol and triglycerides.

11. Improves brain function and memory.

12. Safe (and available).

Things to Note

Ashwagandha is safe, but due to its relaxing agents, it may cause mild drowsiness and sedation for some people. Certain individuals should also not take it, including pregnant and breastfeeding women. As always, please conduct your own research before starting any new health regimen; know I can only fit so much on these pages. Dosages vary depending on your needs, but 250–500 mg per day for at least one month seems effective. There are also different forms available like capsules or ashwagandha powder.