Ashwagandha for All – Day Stamina

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Lynne Tang

The Following article is brought to you by and Lynne Tang. Reprint from April 2003, Let's Live.

Ashwagandha for All – Day Stamina

Can you tell me a little bit more about the herb ashwagandha and its health applications?

Ashwagandha Root (withania somnifera) is an ancient herb used in ayurveda, and incidentally, one of my favorite herbs. It has been showing promise in a round of scientific studies. ASHWAGANDHA is not yet well known in the United States, but that may soon change. The scientific literature includes more than 95 studies on this herb, with 42 of them since 2000.

Sometimes called “winter cherry,” ashwagandha, a relative of tomatoes and potatoes, is the main tonic - especially for men – in ayurvedic herbalism. Ayurveda considers this stamina-building herb to be a particularly powerful rejuvenating and sexual tonic.

The sexual benefits are proving true in scientific studies. A 2001 animal study showed that extracts of ashwagandha increased sex hormones and sperm production, presumably by promoting a testosterone-like effect. In another study, the herb helped improve age-related concerns, including cholesterol, calcium loss, sexual performance, and a reduction in gray hair growth.

Ayurvedic herbalism uses ashwagandha for general weakness and exhaustion, weight loss, memory loss, nerve diseases, cough, anemia and insomnia. Modern practitioners are most likely to employ it for chronic fatigue, anxiety and insomnia. It is often combined with Arjuna bark (Terminalia arjuna) for chronic heart and vascular disorders, especially congestive heart failure.

Studies also confirm its performance and endurance-enhancing benefits; for example, ashwagandha was shown to increase swimming time in an endurance test.

This herb has also been shown to benefit stress, depression, blood sugar metabolism and regulation, suppressed male sexual behavior, stomach ulcers, suppressed immune function memory loss and mood fluctuations. Ashwagandha is also a superb herb for treating chronic anxiety. It takes about a week to work up to the proper dosage, and about another week for the herb to reach maximum effectiveness.

And wait – there’s more. Ashwagandha can help reestablish long-term sleep rhythms by regulating sleep cycles over time. (It won’t make you sleepy, though.) In addition, new scientific findings suggest that ashwagandha may have anti-tumor effects, as well as the ability to enhance the effectiveness of radiation therapy in cancer.

Ashwagandha has antioxidant activity in the brain, which may explain, in part, a host of its effects. As a rejuvenator, take 1 gm per day, over a long period of time (up to several years). Since ashwagandha is safe, larger quantities are often used in ayurveda for short-term periods. In India, it is given with pungent, heating herbs (ginger, pepper, etc.) to increase its tonic effects. You can take it at any time during the day.