An Overview of Ashwagandha Extract; Its Uses & Benefits
If you have been on the internet lately, then you must have come across the name ashwagandha extract. The use of ashwagandha extract for stress management, the stress relieving benefits of ashwagandha extract, and many other such search results will pop up on your screen upon googling herbal remedies for stress management. But what ashwagandha actually is, where is it found, how can we use it, and how is its extract so helpful in relieving stress? All these questions will be answered as you keep reading this wellness blog.
What is ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is one of the most traditionally used plants in ayurvedic remedies. Known by many names like “Indian Ginseng” or “Winter Cherry”, Ashwagandha has been used, from leaves to roots, for different benefits, i.e., relieving stress, improving concentration, and increasing energy.
This plant is natively found in India and some parts of Southeast Asia, and is often used in the form of a fine powder, extract, or in some cases, as a whole. The most common uses of ashwagandha and its extract are to manage issues like anxiety and stress.
What does the world have to say about ashwagandha extract?
Each part of this ayurvedic plant; fruits, leaves, and roots, has a potential benefit for our body.
The preferred use of ashwagandha’s fruit and leaves is topical application to support wound healing, whereas the roots are consumed orally in the form of different herbal supplements. The oral use of ashwagandha, in the form of powdered capsules or teabags, is most likely to be related to its role in stress management as an adaptogen.
An adaptogen is a substance that helps our body to resist or cope with mental and physical stress. A variety of adaptogens are available in our very own nature, and ashwagandha is one of them. The potential effect of ashwagandha extract on stress management is backed by many research studies and scientific evidence.
Potential health benefits of ashwagandha extract:
Although ashwagandha is in the headlines due to its stress-lowering effects, it does provide some other health benefits as well, which are somehow related to its stress-relieving properties. A recommended and safe use of ashwagandha extract can help boost our mental and physical well-being by improving concentration and energy levels, respectively.
There is more to talk about the benefits of ashwagandha and its extract, so let’s get on that track.
1. Can help relieve stress & anxiety
Stress triggers have become a constant part of our daily life, and this stress is affecting our physical and mental health. These stress-causing factors can either be emotional or physical depending on the existing scenario around us. Irrespective of the type of stress, our body does have to face multiple outcomes that are highly related to high levels of cortisol in the body.
Cortisol is a hormone that is produced within our body in response to stress. High levels of cortisol in the body, for a longer time period, can disturb our immunity and the normal functioning of the digestive system. This can also disturb our appetite which can lead to unintentional weight loss.
Ashwagandha, as an adaptogen, helps lower abnormally high cortisol levels in the body, and It thus plays a role in stress management. Moreover, it also regulates the secretion and production of other stress stimulators, thus managing a great response to environmental stress.
2. May also improve athletic performance
When it comes to athletes, they need a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients to keep up with their activity levels. And for that, they need smooth blood flow to receive a constant supply of these essentials throughout the body.
The oral consumption of ashwagandha extract has been found to improve this particular mechanism in the body. In addition to these, some research studies have also supported the effect of ashwagandha in improving muscle strength.
There is a term, VO2 max, particularly used for athletes to measure their oxygen consumption, and, according to one study, ashwagandha had a significant impact on improving this value. Furthermore, good numbers of VO2 max also indicate a healthier heart, which means that somehow ashwagandha can improve the functioning of the heart.
3. May support male fertility
As a member of the ginseng family, ashwagandha also possesses similar mechanisms of action. A study was conducted to assess ashwagandha’s degree of impact on improving testosterone levels. And, according to the results, the group that used ashwagandha extract had a distinct increase in the levels of testosterone in their bodies.
In addition to this, the group with ashwagandha intake also had more motile sperms than the group with placebo intake. This, too, goes in the favour of ashwagandha in improving athletic performance, as testosterone is also a vital hormone for improving stamina.
4. Can also provide an anti-inflammatory action
Similar to all other globally known herbal supplements or products, ashwagandha is also rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is basically a reactive response and mechanism of our body to indicate the point location of some infection or harm to the cellular structure of the body. This harm can either be due to the excessive production of free radicals in the body (also known as oxidative stress) or due to some cut or wound on the outer side of the skin (termed physical stress).
Along with a helping mechanism, when not managed timely, this inflammation can also slow down the process of wound healing or recovery. Therefore, it is necessary to take some anti-inflammatory measures prior to anything else to prevent any further damage. And, ashwagandha has the ability to deal with both kinds of stress factors; free radicals and inflammatory substances.
Hence, it can be said that besides controlling inflammation in the body, ashwagandha can also somehow play a crucial role in wound healing.
5. May also improve the sleep quality
Stress and sleep are highly interrelated. If you take too much stress, then you can’t sleep properly, and if for some reason, you are not completing your regular sleep, then your body will go into the phase of chronic stress. In both cases, we need something that can relax our minds and make the blood flow smoothly toward the nervous system.
A night of proper sleep is very essential for us to function properly throughout the day. To support our daily sleep, we need to add some factors, either dietary or physical activity-related, that can help in relaxing our brain to get the needed rest at night. Ashwagandha extract helps in providing a calming effect to the brain, making it easier for us to fall asleep. When we are free from the tangles of daily stressful thoughts, it helps in enjoying a restful sleep and waking up refreshed.
Apart from all these mentioned health benefits, a recommended use of ashwagandha extract may also be a great contributing factor in supporting daily energy levels, improving concentration & focus, and preventing the onset of some brain-related disorders. Adding more about the amazing benefits of ashwagandha extract, the number of antioxidants and biochemically active compounds present in it make this plant an amazing option to manage oxidative stress and blood sugar levels in the body.
Benefits of using ashwagandha extract supplements:
When it comes to the use of supplements, it is always a better option to consult with a healthcare professional prior to using such products. As far as the use of ashwagandha supplements is concerned, the root part of the plant is ground into a fine powder, and then used in capsules or teabags. As mentioned earlier, to get the stress-relieving benefits from ashwagandha, it is suggested to use the root-part of the plant.
Another benefit of using ashwagandha extract supplements is that they are standardized in a way to provide the exact target ingredient that is required by the body to tackle daily stress. When used within a safe dose, ashwagandha has been shown to demonstrate great health benefits for our general well-being.
Nutrifactor’s Nurilax is also one such supplement that provides 125 mg of ashwagandha extract to support our body and mind in the management of daily stress. Not just this, but with the ability of ashwagandha to improve mental health, it can also help to regulate mood swings. Moreover, Nurilax can also help to increase the levels of male hormones in the body, and promote male fertility, when used according to the recommendation of a healthcare professional.
Similar in action to the whole part of the plant, the extract present in Nurilax also tends to decrease the levels of cortisol in the body. This helps in the healthy management of daily stress, and provides our minds with a calming and relaxing effect. As a result, we feel stress-free and can enjoy good sleep as well.
So, to summarise all these wonderful health benefits of ashwagandha extract, we can say that its regular use can provide great assistance to those who are looking for something to cope with their daily stress, enjoy restful sleep, and keep their energy levels high.