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Ashwagandha Benefits For The Brain, Thyroid & Even Muscles

Ashwagandha (aka Somnifera dunal) is an adaptogenic herb that’s popular in Ayurvedic medicine. It has been used for more than 2,500 years. It’s actually the most commonly used and extensively researched adaptogen herb. It’s valued for its thyroid-modulating, neuroprotective, anti-anxiety, antidepressant and anti-inflammatory properties, which are just some of the many ashwagandha benefits.

In India, ashwagandha is known as the “strength of the stallion” because it traditionally has been used to strengthen the immune system after illness. It’s also been referred to as “Indian ginseng” because of its ability to enhance your stamina and work as a natural stress reliever, and those aren’t the only benefits of ashwagandha.

Here are so many more ashwagandha benefits.

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1. Improves Underactive Thyroid Function

One of the most incredible aspects of adaptogen herbs like ashwagandha is that they help people with thyroid problems. Ashwagandha has been shown to support a sluggish thyroid for people diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, or underactive thyroid. For the millions of people who struggle with thyroid problems, many of whom don’t even know it, ashwagandha may serve as the solution they’ve been waiting for. These ashwagandha health benefits for the thyroid also account for ashwagandha benefits for weight loss since thyroid issues can lead to weight fluctuations.

2. Relieves Adrenal Fatigue

Research shows that ashwagandha may be useful in supporting adrenal function and helping overcome adrenal fatigue. Your adrenals are endocrine glands that are responsible for releasing hormones, specifically cortisol and adrenaline, in response to stress.

If your adrenals are overtaxed due to an overabundance of emotional, physical or mental stress, this can lead to a condition referred to as adrenal fatigue. When your adrenals become exhausted, this can also disrupt other hormones in your body, including progesterone, which can cause infertility and lower levels of DHEA, a hormone that’s tied to longevity and maintaining a strong body.

3. Combats Stress and Anxiety

One of the most well-known ashwagandha benefits is its ability to work as a natural remedy for anxiety. In a 2009 study published in PLOS One, ashwagandha was comparable to common pharmaceutical drugs lorazepam and imipramine, without the side effects.

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4. Improves Depression

Not only does ashwagandha benefit people who deal with anxiety and chronic stress, but it can also be helpful for people who experience signs of depression. Ashwagandha improves resistance toward stress. Studies show that it thereby improves people’s self-assessed quality of life.

5. Balances Blood Sugar Levels

Ashwagandha has been evaluated for its anti-diabetic effects, which are possible because of the presence of phenolic compounds, including flavonoids. Research shows that flavonoids possess hypoglycemic activities, and a study involving rodents concluded that both ashwagandha root and leaf extracts helped achieve normal blood sugar levels in diabetic rats.

6. Helps Fight Cancer

Research suggests that ashwagandha has promising anti-tumor effects, can help reduce tumor cell growth and may work to prevent cancer cells from growing. The extract has been shown to help inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells — specifically breast, lung, stomach and colon cancer cells, which are among the leading types of cancers in the world. It’s believed that ashwagandha helps prevent the growth of cancer cells mostly due to its immune-boosting and antioxidant abilities.

In addition to the anti-cancer ashwagandha benefits that have been displayed in multiple studies, researchers also suggest that the herb can help reduce the side effects of anti-cancer agents that can reduce immunity and quality of life. According to an overview published in the African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines, ashwagandha acts as an immunomodulator that can enhance the life span of cancer patients, who are especially at risk of lowered immunity.

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7. Reduces Brain Cell Degeneration and Improves Memory

Emotional, physical and chemical stress can have damaging effects to the brain and nervous system. Recent research shows that ashwagandha is more than a stress reliever — it also protects the brain from cell degeneration, which can lead to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. One of the main reasons ashwagandha is so effective at healing the brain is because it contains powerful antioxidants that destroy the free radicals that cause aging.

Withaferin A and withanolide D are the two main withanolides in ashwagandha that are used to improve cognitive function. Withanolides are naturally occurring steroids that are commonly present in plants of the nightshade family. When these steroids were injected into rodents to test their cognitive-improving abilities, researchers found that they helped promote cell outgrowth, reverse behavioral deficits and plaque buildup, and reduce amyloid beta burden, which is crucially involved in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

8. Boosts Immune Function

Because ashwagandha works as an adaptogen that can reduce the body’s stress hormones, it can help boost your immune system and reduce inflammation within the body. Animal and laboratory research shows that ashwagandha can enhance immune function by increasing immunoglobulin production. It is also able to promote an anti-inflammatory environment by suppressing pro-inflammatory cytokines. By downregulating the immune system when it’s compromised, ashwagandha might be a useful tool in the treatment of various inflammatory disorders.

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9. Increases Stamina and Endurance

Studies show that ashwagandha can boost endurance during physical activity by sharpening brain function and reducing bodily pain. Due to its positive calming energizing effects on the brain, and its ability to lower stress hormones, ashwagandha helps improve concentration, motivation and stamina in conducted studies.

10. Helps Increase Muscle Strength

Perhaps a surprising ashwagandha benefit is its ability to increase muscle mass and strength. For this reason, ashwagandha might be a helpful tool for people engaging in resistance training and other forms of exercise that can be strenuous on your muscles.

11. Helps Improve Sexual Function and Fertility

In Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha has been used as a natural aphrodisiac that can help improve sexual dysfunction. Ashwagandha is also used to boost testosterone levels and improve male fertility. A pilot study published in BioMed Research International set out to determine the efficacy and safety of 300 milligrams of ashwagandha root extract supplementation twice daily for eight weeks for improving sexual function in 50 healthy women. Researchers found that the treatment group displayed significantly higher improvements, compared to placebo, in sexual function scores, specifically in areas of arousal, lubrication and orgasm.

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