Ashwagandha for Energy and Health
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In today’s day and age, life can seem like it is non-stop. Between exercising, staying fed, working, bringing kids to practice, and maintaining some semblance of a social life, we exert a lot of energy in our day-to-day life. And on top of that, we have to try to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night! Your daily activities can leave you feeling sapped of energy, which can cause you to turn to products that claim to get your energy levels back up to where you want them to be; items such as beverages, energy bars, or candies, that are chock-full of caffeine and sugar. While these items can provide a sense of increased energy for a time, their effects quickly wear off and you can become dependent on them, needing more and more of them each day to maintain your energy where you would like it to be. That’s not even to mention the effects they can have on your adrenal and hormonal systems. Luckily, there are more natural steps we can take. From trying to establish a regular sleeping routine, to staying properly nourished, it is possible to naturally maintain good health and energy levels. One item that can help, accordingly, is ashwagandha.
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha, also commonly known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry, is an herb that is found in warmer climates such as those of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and China. In Ayurvedic practices, this herb is considered to be a rasayana herb, or an herb that promulgates youth, longevity, and decreased suffering.
Having been used for thousands of years, there is an extensive list of ailments that this herb is purported to help with. These include asthma, bacterial infections, inflammation, fluid retention, fungal infections, and bowel function issues. Animal studies indicate that ashwagandha may help with type 2 diabetes and have a sedative effect as well.
While the research is not conclusive as far as human subjects go, some studies have shown that ashwagandha has the potential to help with things such as decreasing stress, anxiety, acne, and fatigue. Other potential benefits that have been elucidated by research on this herb include anti-inflammatory effects, central nervous system relaxation, immune cell enhancement, and inhibition of cancer cells.
Ashwagandha for Energy and Health
Ashwagandha falls into a category of substances called adaptogens. The ranks of adaptogens include plants, herbs, and mushrooms, and they seem to help the body cope with stress to various degrees. They achieve this by helping to normalize body functions and optimize the function of various processes that may be impacted by stress.
In addition to acting as an adaptogen and supporting general health, ashwagandha also appears to have energy-boosting effects in those who use it. One study done in rats showed that use of this herb increased their stamina whilst participating in endurance tests. In an Indian study of human subjects, those who received ashwagandha supplements displayed significant improvements in the study’s performance parameters compared to those who received a placebo.
The participants were all elite cyclists, and the performance parameters included maximum oxygen volume and time for exhaustion on a treadmill. The conclusion of that study was that ashwagandha does effectively improve performance in human subjects with respect to cardiac and respiratory endurance. This is to say that research seems to be supporting the use of ashwagandha for the purposes of improved energy levels.
Safety Considerations with Ashwagandha
Consuming ashwagandha can bring on some unwanted side-effects in some individuals, so it is important to consult your doctor before starting to use it and to pay attention to your body in the process. Some symptoms can include gastrointestinal discomfort, loose bowel movements, and mild drowsiness.
Other, less prevalent, side-effects can include giddiness, hallucinations, cough, decreased appetite, and blurred vision. Consuming ashwagandha can affect certain lab results if you get your blood assessed, including markers of thyroid function as well as digoxin levels. Additionally, there have been reports of adverse health effects with the consumption of ashwagandha pills that had been contaminated; this is a reminder to use discernment when choosing which products you choose to use.
Additionally, do not take this herb if you have hormone-sensitive prostate cancer, are taking certain medications such as barbiturates, or if you are pregnant.
Ashwagandha may be a useful product to help improve your energy levels. Instead of turning to highly processed beverages and bars that are filled with sweeteners and caffeine, consider using this naturally-occurring herb that has been known to benefit humankind for thousands of years. As is supported by research, ashwagandha has the potential to help decrease the effects of stress on your body while at the same time increasing your ability to tolerate various activities with better energy and stamina.