Ashwagandha – An Essential Guide to Know Everything About It
Hair loss or alopecia is quite common in older adults but can also affect children at some point. A person loses about 100 strands of hair every day, and the loss remains unnoticed. Alopecia can be gradual or may happen suddenly, depending upon the symptoms. If you observe excessive hair fall during bathing or combing hair, it could be thinning or baldness. Don’t wait, consult a doctor or physician, and take control of your hair.
Ashwagandha, also known as Ajagandha, Amangura, Amukkirag, is an ancient therapeutic herb that mostly thrives in India, Africa, and the Middle East. For years people have been using Ashwagandha for medicinal purposes, and it has various health benefits. The word ashwagandha refers to the smell or essence of its root. It is an ancient herb that helps in preventing various diseases such as cancer, anxiety, and Alzheimer's.
Uses of ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is a versatile element that has various notable effects. Well, scientists and researchers do not know much about the herb reaction inside the human body. Maximum readings have used animals and cells as a subject, and humans are still in the process.
Here are some proven use of ashwagandha with facts and evidence.
1 - Stress and anxiety
The medicinal herb may have a mild effect on anxiety traits when confronted with the lorazepam drug. A recent study in 2019 found that 240 milligrams of ashwagandha can effectively reduce the anxiety level in human beings.
The herb is responsible for reducing cortisol, a stress hormone. Another study in the same year showed that consuming 600 milligrams of ashwagandha per day reduces the self-reported stress levels along with the cortisol level.
Though these studies and research are encouraging, experts need to research more before approving ashwagandha for anxiety.
Ashwagandha act as a perfect pain reliever. It helps in preventing pain all along with the central nervous system. Moreover, it has various anti-inflammatory qualities. Studies have shown that ashwagandha is an excellent herb that helps in treating arthritis, especially rheumatoid arthritis. In 2015, researchers took 125 people with joint pain for a small study. They explored that the herb has a positive effect on rheumatoid arthritis.
People often use ashwagandha for heart diseases such as:
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- relieving chest pain
However, there are no such authentic studies that support these aids. According to a study in 2015, the ashwagandha root could improve an individual cardiorespiratory endurance. But the studies are not enough to support the ashwagandha benefits and scientists need to work more.
As of 2011, various studies have proved ashwagandha to be a perfect placebo for Alzheimer's. It can prevent loss of brain function including Huntington’s and Parkinson’s diseases. With such disorders, the brain and other parts get affected leading to loss of memory. The study showed that when rats and mice accepted ashwagandha at an early stage, they recovered soon.
During the 2011 study of Alzheimer's, the medicinal herb showed the properties of restricting the growing cancer cells. Scientists also found ashwagandha conquering the lung tumors in animals.
Some other diseases that can be prevented by ashwagandha
- Skin conditions
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Nervous breakdowns
- Snake bites
- Memory loss
- Weight loss
Uses Of Ashwagandha For Hair
People have been using ashwagandha for 3,000 years. It is the oldest medicinal treatment all over the world. The ashwagandha herb contains steroidal aggregates that help in increasing the estrogen level. The estrogen further produces collagen that helps in increasing essential skin oils.
As stated earlier, ashwagandha reduces cortisol levels. Cortisol is the major element that causes stress in the human body. And stress is the major cause of hair loss in men and women. The herb contains an amino acid called tyrosine, which encourages the generation of melanin in the human body. The antioxidant property helps in preventing the early graying of hair. It excites the hair follicles and ensures the health of the hair.
A study in 1996 proved that ashwagandha has anti-aging effects. The study included 101 men who were served ashwagandha for a year. There was an increase in the red blood cells, hemoglobin, and hair melanin. All thanks to hormone balancing effects and antioxidant properties that prevent hair fall and encourage healthy and shiny hair. Almost every shampoo in the world contains some amount of ashwagandha. When the ashwagandha herb, irrespective of any form, is applied on the scalp, increases the blood circulation level. Massaging your hair with ashwagandha eliminates dandruff and oily hair. Overall the herb is a perfect solution to all your hair problems.
Does Ashwagandha Help With Hair Loss?
Ashwagandha helps the hair in the following way:
Ashwagandha reduces the cortisol hormones that are the major cause of stress in human beings. Further, stress is the prime cause of hair loss. The herb also controls the anxiety level which another reason for hair loss. Doctors heavily recommend ashwagandha for women as it controls and regulates the postpartum hair fall which is caused by hormonal irregularities in women.
2 - Strengthens Your Hair
The medicinal ashwagandha excites the generation of DHEA ( Dehydroepiandrosterone). DHEA is a typical hormone that acts as a major antioxidant. Hence, ashwagandha helps in fighting the harmful radicals on the scalp and hair follicles. It helps in keeping your hair straight and healthy.
3 - Enhances Your Scalp and Hair Nourishment
The metabolites of ashwagandha consist of components such as vitamin C, protein, potassium, nitrate, glucose, and iron that are quite essential for healthy hair. The medicinal herb encourages blood circulation and carries essential nutrients to the hair follicles.
4 - Conditions Your Scalp and Hair
The DHEA simulation created by ashwagandha boosts the production of sebum and collagen on your scalp. As a result, it repairs your rough and dry hair by conditioning the hair surface and scalp. Moreover, the sebum and collagen prevent your scalp and hair from the damage caused by the sun.
5 - Controls Your Scalp Irritation
The organic ashwagandha has anti-inflammatory traits that ensure the overall health of the hair follicles. It repairs the scalp and eliminates things such as itching, dandruff, eczema, and psoriasis induced by inflammation.
6 - Reverses Premature Greying Of Hair
The tyrosine ( amino acid) in ashwagandha helps in stimulating the production of melanin in hair follicles. It enables restoring the ruined melanin and converse the hair graying.
How To Use Ashwagandha To Stop Hair Loss?
Now the question arises that how to consume ashwagandha for hair loss? Well, there are various ways and forms in which you can consume ashwagandha for the best result. Either you can have an ashwagandha capsule or powder depending upon the signs and symptoms. Follow these given methods to get the best result for your hair.1 - Ayurvedic Hair Care Products
You can assuredly use hair care products like hair shampoo, conditioner, or oil that contains ashwagandha as the prime component. You can add an adequate amount of ashwagandha powder to your hair care product for an instant result.
2 - Ashwagandha Hair Masks
- Make a granular paste by mixing lukewarm water to 3-4 spoon of ashwagandha powder. Massage thoroughly by applying the paste on your scalp. Wrap your entire head with a towel and leave it for around half an hour. Rinse your hair thoroughly with cold water after removing the towel.
- Add Brahmi and hibiscus to ashwagandha powder in equal amounts. Now stir the combination by adding coconut milk and yogurt and form a thick paste. Apply the paste to your scalp and leave it for around half an hour. Wash it thoroughly with a herbal shampoo.
3 - Ashwagandha Tea
Add a spoonful of ashwagandha powder or dries roots and boil it for 15 minutes in water. Now mix a spoon of lemon juice and honey for taste. You can also add the ashwagandha powder to morning tea for the same result.
4 - Ashwagandha Churna
For years ashwagandha is being consumed as a powder in addition to honey, milk, or ghee. You can consume a spoon of ashwagandha churna daily after your breakfast for getting rid of various health problems. Start with a lower dose and increase it gradually.
5 - Ashwagandha Supplements
Various ashwagandha Ayurveda supplements contain ashwagandha in some of the other forms. You can intake dosage of 400-500 milligrams of the supplement daily. The ashwagandha components are high in fat-soluble, so try taking it with meals that incorporate tone fats.
Ashwagandha heats the human body, so it is must be consumed with milk or ghee for balancing the hotness. Furthermore, you must take it during the day time.
How long does it take for ashwagandha to start working?
The effects of any supplement on the human body depend on other life factors. There is no such magic capsule that can show its result overnight. The supplements only show the effect in addition to other healthy attitudes. Doctors recommend a balanced diet and regular exercise in the supplement to other herbal products.
Talking about the ashwagandha, when taken with proper guidance and dosage, it can show the results within two weeks. It all depends on the quality and use of ashwagandha. You should it with a low dosage of 200 mg per day and then extend it to 600 mg per day for better results. The one with a poor diet must take a heavy dosage. You need to have patience and should not expect the result overnight. The herbs need to adjust with the function of the body before showing any result. It may take months for better results but you can notice a slight change over a short period.
Are There Any Side Effects Of Ashwagandha?
Despite various health benefits, ashwagandha can cause some serious side effects if not take properly. The long term consumption effects are still unexplored, and there are no such cases of mortality or death. Heavy dosage can cause problems such as diarrhea, vomiting, or stomach ache. The side effects range from person to person, and we recommend you to consult your healthcare professional before the dose.
Pregnant women should not take the medicinal herb as it may lead to miscarriage or premature delivery. Moreover, breastfeeding women should also maintenance distance from ashwagandha to be on the safer side.
The possible side effects of ashwagandha are as follows:
1 - May increase thyroid function
Ashwagandha may cause a serious problem for the one suffering from problems like Hashimoto’s or hypothyroidism, even for the one with the thyroid. Experts say that it could be mainly due to the cortisol-lowering effect, and more work is needed before coming to any instance. People with thyroids depends on other medicine and ashwagandha can be dangerous for them.
2 - Can decrease blood pressure levels
People who are suffering from high blood pressure should avoid ashwagandha as they depend on other medications. Furthermore, people with high blood pressure and hypertension are regularly under the guidance of doctors and physicians. The ashwagandha can mix with other drugs and cause some serious issues to your body. The patients should consult their doctors before taking the herb in any form.
3 - Can induce early pregnancies or miscarriages
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should always consult their physician before taking any supplement of ashwagandha. Ashwagandha may not act as a stress reliever in such cases and can cause premature delivery, miscarriage, or uterine contractions. The NIH ( National Institutes of Health) in the year 2020 stated to contact your doctor if suffering from stress or anxiety.
4 - May decrease blood sugar
There are not many studies in this field but studies done on rats and mice show that ashwagandha may lower blood sugar. Insulin sensitivity and glucose were improved in rats when concentrated with ashwagandha. But in the case of humans, things are yet to be explored. Though a study was done on humans in the year 200, however, the sample size was quite small.
5 - May increase immune activity
A strong immune system is good but not always. People with diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus or rheumatoid arthritis can make the situation worse. As ashwagandha act as an immunity booster, the people with autoimmune diseases should avoid ashwagandha supplement.
Ashwagandha is being used for years as a medicine in countries like India, China, Nepal, and Africa. Yet people have various questions regarding the medicinal herb. Here are some frequently asked questions regarding ashwagandha.
Q: Can ashwagandha help in losing weight?
A: Various studies in animals and humans show that ashwagandha may help in losing weight. Although the working is still unknown
Q: How much time does it take ashwagandha to work?
A: The working depends on the functioning of the individual body. For example, it may longer time for weight loss and a short time in case of anxiety and stress.
Q: Can ashwagandha be taken on an empty stomach?
A: Yes, it can be taken on an empty stomach. If you ever feel trouble
try taking it with some meals.
Q: Does ashwagandha help you sleep?
A: Ashwagandha is a traditional sleep pill. The component Withania somnifera helps in doing so. It may help in sleeping more deeply for a longer duration.
Q: Does ashwagandha cause high blood pressure?
A: No, it helps in reducing high blood pressure. The one with prescribed blood pressure medication should stay away from ashwagandha.
Q: Does ashwagandha make you gain weight?
A: No, it helps in reducing the weight, but might increase your muscle mass.
Q: Does ashwagandha affect the thyroid?
A: Research and studies have proved that ashwagandha has raised the level of thyroid in the body. And the one taking thyroid medicines should avoid taking the herb.
Q: Can ashwagandha be taken with water?
A: Yes, it can be taken with water, milk, ghee, and other liquids. You can also consume it with honey or tea for a better taste.
Q: Does ashwagandha increase testosterone for men?
A: There are a few indications that show that ashwagandha may raise testosterone levels in men. It is one of the sexual benefits offer by the medicinal herb. However, no study supports the statement.
Q: Can ashwagandha improve fertility in men and women?
A: Yes, some testimonies prooves that ashwagandha may improve fertility in men and women. Especially in me, it increases the amount of sperm count.
Q: Is ashwagandha helpful for bodybuilders?
A: As an immunity booster, ashwagandha enhances muscle mass and strength.
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Dr. Shailendra Chaubey, BAMS
A modern-day Vaidya with 11 years of experience. He is the founder of Dr. Shailendra Healing School that helps patients recover from chronic conditions through the Ayurvedic way of life.