Ashwagandha May Treat Cancer, Bones, Parkinson’s
A flurry of new research is confirming that the ancient Ayurvedic remedy called Ashwagandha may provide one of our safest anticancer treatments, as well as treatments for anxiety, osteoarthritis and possibly even Parkinson’s disease.
A study from India’s Amravati University confirmed other recent research that a biochemical constituent of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) will inhibit the growth of cancer by interfering with the cancer cell’s ability to prevent destruction by the immune system.
When a cell begins to mutate into a cancerous cell, a healthy immune system will typically knock out the cell by destroying it. This cell destruction, called apoptosis, takes place through the immune system’s ability to trigger the self-destruct switch within the cell.
However, when the immune system is weaker, the cancer cell may develop the ability to counteract this process of immune system apoptosis. The cancer cell often uses an enzyme protein called survivin to inhibit the apoptosis system.
But researchers have found that withanone – one of Ashwagandha’s primary constituents – has the unique ability to attach to and interfere with the survivin protein – making the cell once again available for the immune system to knock it out.
This process makes Ashwagandha one of the most unique cancer-fighting potentials currently known, because unlike the so-many chemotherapy drugs that also aim to kill cancer cells – Ashwagandha has no known adverse side effects and does not kill healthy cells.
Ashwagandha promotes bone healing
To the contrary, Ashwagandha promotes healing. In another recent study, another one of Ashwagandha’s constituents was found to speed up healing of bone injuries and increase bone formation.
The constituent, called withaferin A, was found to increase the proliferation of osteoblasts as well as their differentiation. As this takes place, the formation of bone is sped up.
The researchers also found that withaferin A also sped up the bone healing process through stimulating an enzyme called E3 ubiquitin ligase.
The researchers then tested withaferin A against two FDA-approved drugs bortezomib and alendronate, and found withaferin A had superior influence on healing bone injury.
This research confirms a clinical study published in 2010 from India’s University of Poona. Here the researchers gave a combination of Ashwagandha and two other Ayurvedic herbs (Boswellia serrata and Curcuma longa), or a placebo to 42 patients with osteoarthritis. After three months of treatment, the herbal treatment group had significantly less pain and better mobility than the placebo group.
Ancient Ayurvedic remedy for many disorders
Ancient Ayurvedic physicians understood the healing power of Ashwagandha, as they used it clinically to promote healing and stimulate the immune system. They knew of the power of Ashwagandha as they applied the herb for many ailments, including anxiety, depression, wound healing, immunosuppression and many others.
Clinical and laboratory research has increasingly supported these effects. For example, in 2009, the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine conducted a study of 91 people with anxiety found that Ashwagandha and deep breathing exercises significantly helped people with their anxiety.
Laboratory research has shown Ashwagandha may improve cognition and help prevent or improve neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease as well. In fact, a number of laboratory studies have confirmed its ability to improve motor function for “treating catecholamines, oxidative damage and physiological abnormalities,” according to one study.
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