Ashwagandha Can Treat More than 50 Medical Conditions
A flurry of new research from around the world on Ashwagandha is proving the medicinal effects of this ancient Ayurvedic herbal remedy are more than just anecdotal.
The past few years have been banner years for Ashwagandha research. Numerous studies confirmed its healing properties in a variety of conditions, including stress, toxicity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s, skin cancer, tuberculosis, liver toxicity and many others. Following is a summary of some of the findings of the over fifty different human, laboratory and animal studies conducted using Ashwaghanda published during 2012 and early 2013:
- Research from the Asha Hospital in Hyderbad found, in a study of 64 people with chronic stress, that Ashwagandha supplementation for two months decreased stress by 44% and decreased depression and/or anxiety by 72%.
- Tokyo University of Technology researchers found that Ashwagandha slows the process of melanocyte stem cell phosphorylation, giving it the potential of blocking skin cancers.
- Banasthali University researchers found that Ashwagandha may protect the liver against lead toxicity.
- Jamia Hamdard University researchers found that Ashwagandha reduces oxidative damage related to brain cell damage – making it useful for reducing dementia and Alzheimer’s risk.
- Eight weeks of Ashwagandha supplementation increased endurance, respiration capacity and metabolic efficiency among cycling athletes, according to research from Guru Nanak Dev University.
- Research from Texas’ Baylor University found that Ashwagandha reduced inflammation related to type I diabetes.
- Research from the College of Pharmacy at University of Hawaii performed assays that found that Ashwagandha inhibited cancer-related cytokines.
- Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology found that Ashwagandha compounds inhibited proteins involved in Leishmaniasis.
- Researchers from Jamia Hamdard University’s Pharmacy Faculty found that Ashwagandha reduces oxidative stress related to type 2 diabetes.
- Researchers from the Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences found that Ashwagandha supported memory and helped prevent nerve cell degeneration.
- University of Pittsburgh researchers found in a study of 53 patients that Ashwagandha improves symptoms of bipolar syndrome.
- Colorado State University researchers found that Ashwagandha and other Ayurvedic herbs help protect the heart from oxidative damage.
- Researchers from Malaysia’s University Sains found that Ashwagandha reduced fatigue and increased general well-being among patients who were undergoing chemotherapy.
- Researchers from the Chonbuk National University in the Republic of Korea found that Ashwagandha reduced populations of Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus – oral bacteria known to be at primary agents of tooth decay and periodontal disease.
- Researchers from Pakistan’s Quaid-i-Azam University found that Ashwagandha inhibited cancer cells from growing.
- Research from India’s National Research Institute of Ayurvedic Drug Development found that Ashwagandha combined with other Ayurvedic herbs reduced symptoms among tuberculosis patients.
- Researchers from the ICMR Advanced Centre for Reverse Pharmacology in Traditional Medicine found in a 30-day clinical trial among 18 healthy volunteers that 750-1250 milligrams of Ashwagandha per day reduced cholesterol, improved sleep and increased muscle strength.
- Researchers from Louisiana State University found that Ashwagandha inhibited cancer tumor growth.
- Researchers from India’s Central Food Technological Research Institute found Ashwagandha was antioxidant and inhibited oxidative brain cell damage and reversing mechanisms related to Parkinson’s disease.
- Researchers from India’s Central Drug Research Institute found that coagulanolide from Ashwagandha increased glucose tolerance and decreased fasting blood glucose among mice.
- Research from the Ayurvedic Hospital in Ahmedabad found that Ashwagandha with an herbal combination called Rasayana significantly reduced coughing, fever and other symptoms among tuberculosis patients.
- Researchers from Malaysia’s Universiti Sains medical school found that Ashwagandha inhibits several pathogenic bacteria, especially Salmonella.
- Research from India’s Bankura Sammilani Medical College found that Ashwagandha may treat depression.
- Research from Germany’s University of Tuebingen discovered that Ashwagandha reduces oxidative stress and alters gene expression to help cells with energy production.
- Researchers from Brooklyn’s Woodhull Medical Center found that Ashwagandha increases circulating cortisol levels and improves insulin sensitivity. This effect was also found for those with adrenal insufficiency issues or even congenital adrenal hyperplasia – a birth defect of the adrenal glands.
- Studies from South Korea’s Keimyung University found that Ashwagandha inhibits tumor growth and stimulates the killing of renal cancer cells.
- Research from the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that Ashwagandha inhibits breast cancer cell migration.
- Researchers from Detroit’s Wayne State University found that Ashwagandha suppresses the growth of mesothelioma, a lung disease most prominently associated with asbestos toxicity.
- Research from Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz University found that Ashwagandha helps protect the heart and cardiovascular system from oxidative radicals.
- Research from the University of Delhi College of Medical Sciences found that Ashwagandha may reduce diabetes, and has anti-hyperglycemic properties.
- Tokushima Bunri University researchers found that Ashwagandha kills Leishmania major cells – making it an effective treatment for Leishmania.
- Researchers from India’s Cochin University of Science and Technology found that Ashwagandha increased spatial memory and decreased oxidative brain stress among rats.
- Human clinical studies from India’s Banaras Hindu University found that Ashwagandha significantly reduced type 2 diabetes symptoms.
- Research from Guru Nanak Dev University found that Ashwagandha reduces nerve cell death from oxidative damage.
- Researchers from South Korea’s Kyungpook National University found that Ashwagandha reduces inflammation and cell adhesion molecules among blood vessels.
- R.K.D.F. College of Pharmacy researchers found that Ashwagandha may effectively treat obsessive compulsive disorder.
- Research from Panjab University found that Ashwagandha inhibits pro-inflammatory cytokines and reactive oxygen species within the bloodstream.
- Researchers from Egypt’s National Center for Radiation Research and Technology found that Ashwagandha helps protect against radiation exposure.
- Research from India’s National Brain Research Center found that Ashwagandha reduces beta-amyloid peptides within the brain – making it protective against Alzheimer’s disease.
- Human research has also shown that Ashwagandha speeds up healing of bone injuries.
- Scientists from the Indian Institute of Technology found further evidence of Ashwagandha’s neuroprotective effects, in its ability to withanolide A to inhibit acetylcholinesterase.
- Research from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research Center found that Ashwagandha significantly stimulates the immune system.
A myriad of constituents
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) contains a myriad of constituents, including withanolides named withanolide A, withanolide B, withaferin A, and withanone, along with 12-deoxy withastramonolide, withanoside V, withanoside IV. Other complex molecules include trihydroxy-oxowitha-trienolide compounds.
These compounds have been found to act synergistically to enable changes in gene expression within the cell – producing a variety of medicinal effects in addition to antioxidant effects. While some research is striving to isolate and extract that one constituent to be synthetically produced in a lab to make a patented drug, the research above and others over the past year testify that this Ayurvedic powerhouse herb is best used in its whole or whole extract form.
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Sharma V, Sharma S, Pracheta. Protective effect of Withania somnifera roots extract on hematoserological profiles against lead nitrate-induced toxicity in mice. Indian J Biochem Biophys. 2012 Dec;49(6):458-62.
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Pandit S, Chang KW, Jeon JG. Effects of Withania somnifera on the growth and virulence properties of Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus at sub-MIC levels. Anaerobe. 2013 Feb;19:1-8.
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Li W, Zhao Y. Withaferin A suppresses tumor promoter 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol 13-acetate-induced decreases in isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 activity and mitochondrial function in skin epidermal JB6 cells. Cancer Sci. 2012 Oct 27.
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