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Ashwagandha is a herb that been used in India for over 4,000 years. It has a reputation as being a highly potent sexual herb, but its benefits aren't limited to sexual health. Considered a “rasayana” (path of essence) in Ayurveda, it helps promote a longer life by improving the functioning of many body parts. Its combined effects are known as enhancing Ojas in Ayrvedic tradition, which is the same as Jing in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The herb is sometimes sold under the name Indian ginseng and is now used around the world. The Indian name Ashwagandha simply means “horse smell” and was given to the herb because its root emits a strong odor reminiscent of horses.
Health Benefits Provided by Ashwagandha
There are many ways in which this herb can increase your physical and mental well-being. It increases sexual function and boosts libido, increases hair melanin and blood cell counts, can be used as a natural diuretic, helps the body produce sperm and bone marrow, may help relieve high blood pressure, acts as a natural antioxidant, strengthens the immune system, plus brings a calming sensation that provides effective stress relief.
Diseases and Health Problems It Can Help With
Ashwagandha is used by practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine to help individuals suffering from a wide range of chronic health problems and diseases. This includes coughing and colds, ulcers, cancer, HIV/AIDS, dementia, bronchitis, gastrointestinal infections, impotence, insomnia, obesity diabetes and many others.
Available Forms of Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is a plant root that is can be used in its original form. The raw root of the plant is first sterilized with steam. This eliminates any mycotoxins or bacteria that could be present without affecting any of the root's medicinal properties. The root is then ground up into a powder to make it easier to take. This is the most common form of Ashwagandha sold today.
Some retailers of Ayurvedic medicine products also offer extracts, but they don't offer any additional benefits over the powdered form.
The typical dosage of this herb is between 1 to 3 grams. Ashwagandha powder is typically sold in 200 gram bags, which will last up to a couple months depending on your serving size. The powder is easily dissolved in liquids, which allows you to make your own tinctures and decoctions. Another way of taking this powerful herb is to brew it into a tea.
Precautions and Possible Side Effects
Although side effects such as upset stomach and diarrhea have been known to happen in some people, they are usually an issue only if excessive serving sizes are used. For this reason, it is not recommended to exceed doses of 3 grams.
Ashwagandha is contraindicated in individuals that take anti-anxiety medications or any type of sedative, as it has strong calming effects. Due to reports of the herb causing spontaneous abortions, pregnant women should refrain from using it. Headaches and dizziness have been experienced by people with nightshade sensitivity.
Ayurvedic medicine recommends drinking Ashwagandha in a glass of milk. Alternatively, it can be consumed together with food to prevent stomach upset, which is a side effect that some users of this herb have experienced when taking it on an empty stomach.