Withania somnifera or commonly known as Indian ginseng, winter cherry or Ashwagandha is an Indian Ayurvedic herb that has been used for medicinal purposes over centuries. The Sanskrit word ashwa means horse and gandha means aroma which technically represents a fragrant root that is mainly used in various Ayurvedic products. The sense behind this name is that when consumed it can provide the strength and power of horses. The ashwagandha plant (withania somnifera) is a minor shrub that also bears fruits. Ashwagandha root is not only used for medicinal purposes, but also used in dietary and natural Ayurvedic practices. It is commonly manufactured as ashwagandha powder or capsules and is available in general stores that sell Ayurvedic medicine. Some important benefits of ashwagandha include treatment of anxiety, stress-related issues, and skin (How to prevent skin dryness?) diseases such as leukoderma, memory functions, gastric ailments, arthritis, and insomnia.
Ashwagandha benefits for kids:
Reduces Stress & Anxiety: Ashwagandha is an adaptogen herb. Adaptogens are herbal supplements that work to counteract the effects of stress in the body. Stress causes very real physical changes in the body, including harming the neurological, endocrine, and immune systems. Adaptogens have stimulant properties that help counteract those harmful effects. Amongst many benefits of Ashwagandha, the most important is that, it can be a natural way to enable our kids’ bodies to handle and tolerate stress (which foods can help to manage stress?) way better. Studies have shown that Ashwagandha is an excellent stress reliever. This can be immensely helpful for our children and teenagers.
Promotes Better Sleep and Relaxation: This herb can help children to improve sleep (Some foods can help to get better sleep) and thus benefits of Ashwagandha include not only reducing stress but also improving overall well-being. In today’s world, children live in a world of electronic devices. It is basically the first generation being unavoidably accompanied by these gadgets and their electro-magnetic frequencies (EMF) from birth or even earlier on. One of the many negative consequences might be impaired sleep. While reducing their screen time and exposure to EMF itself can significantly improve sleep, some children may need more support to achieve a good night’s sleep (Connection between sleep and brain development). Research suggests that ashwagandha root contains sleep-inducing compounds. If you have existing sleep or anxiety related medication in your prescriptions, it is best not to combine ashwagandha products with it. In case you want to try ashwagandha you should see your pharmacist or doctor and learn about the combinations first.
Improves Brain Power: Benefits of Ashwagandha also include raising the level of acetylcholine, the most important neurotransmitter associated with boosting brain power (How to boost your kids brain power?). Studies suggest that impaired cognitive function including inability to learn are associated with decreased levels of acetylcholine. Research on children with ADHD indicates Ashwagandha raises acetylcholine by inhibiting the activity of the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine. Furthermore, Ashwagandha root also contains choline, a substance necessary for the formation of acetylcholine.
Boosts Immunity: Improving our children’s immune system (How foods help in strengthening immunity?) is something all parents want to achieve especially during this pandemic. As an anti-oxidant and immunomodulator, boosting immunity is one of the most popular benefits of Ashwagandha. The root activates and increases the levels of enzymes and macrophages, a type of white blood cell of the immune system that engulfs and digests substances that do not have the type of proteins specific to healthy body cells. It also promotes the development of antibodies, which is a major factor in improving the body’s response to a health-threatening infection.
Increases muscle mass & strength: One of the other benefits of Ashwagandha is that it is a safe and natural way to support a kid’s muscle strength to avoid injuries (How to fix growing leg pain in kids?) . In an 8-week randomized human clinical trial involving 40 healthy adult college students, Ashwagandha improved muscular strength and increased endurance, speed, and coordination better than placebo. The dosage used in this trial was 500 mg/day of Ashwagandha root extract.
Reduces depression: Although it hasn’t been thoroughly studied, a few studies suggest ashwagandha may help alleviate depression. In one controlled 60-day study in 64 stressed adults, those who took 600 mg of high-concentration ashwagandha extract per day reported a 79% reduction in severe depression, while the placebo group reported a 10% increase. However, only one of the participants in this study had a history of depression. For this reason, the relevance of the results is unclear.
Might reduce blood sugar levels: In several studies, ashwagandha has been shown to lower blood sugar levels. One test-tube study found that it increased insulin secretion and improved insulin sensitivity in muscle cells. Also, several human studies have suggested that it can reduce blood sugar levels in both healthy people and those with diabetes. Additionally, in a 4-week study in people with schizophrenia, those treated with ashwagandha had an average reduction in fasting blood sugar levels of 13.5 mg/dL, compared with 4.5 mg/dL in those who received a placebo.
May reduce Inflammation: Benefits of Ashwagandha also include reducing inflammation. Several animal studies have shown that ashwagandha helps decrease inflammation. Studies in humans have found that it increases the activity of natural killer cells, which are immune cells that fight infection and help you stay healthy. It has also been shown to decrease markers of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein (CRP). This marker is linked to an increased risk of heart disease. In one controlled study, the group who took 250 mg of standardized ashwagandha extract daily had a 36% decrease in CRP, on average, compared with a 6% decrease in the placebo group.
Improves heart health: In addition to its anti-inflammatory effects, benefits of ashwagandha also include improving heart health by reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Animal studies have found that it significantly decreases levels of these blood fats. One study in rats found that it lowered total cholesterol and triglyceride levels by 53% and nearly 45%, respectively. While controlled human studies have reported less dramatic results, they have observed some impressive improvements in these markers. In a 60-day study in chronically stressed adults, the group taking the highest dosage of standardized ashwagandha extract experienced a 17% decrease in LDL (bad) cholesterol and an 11% decrease in triglycerides, on average.
Fights sickness: Ashwagandha has shown to have strong anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal as well as antibacterial properties which help to fight off sickness. Ashwagandha might be a useful back-to-school supplement, which you could add into your child’s breakfast (Some healthy breakfast ideas) smoothie to support immune health. A study with Ashwagandha root extract showed lowered rates of infection. It is unclear whether this benefit is due to Ashwagandha’s antibacterial or immune-boosting qualities, or possibly even both.
How to take Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha powder mixed with milk: Ashwagandha powder is the base for any other way of taking ashwagandha. Here, Ashwagandha roots, which have most of the medicinal benefits are dried, cut, and sifted for tea or powdered to be taken with milk.
Ashwagandha churna balls: These churna balls are made with herbs like Gokshura, Safed Musli, and Shilajit to maximize the benefits of Ashwagandha for ED.
Ashwagandha chocolate: A dark chocolate infused with ashwagandha. This combination helps in boosting libido and acts as a natural aphrodisiac.
Ashwagandha tea: This is the best caffeine-free drink to soothe you into a restful sleep every night. All you need to do is boil the herb’s roots in water so that the water is infused.
Ashwagandha Tablets: The most hassle-free and convenient way to take ashwagandha.
Ashwagandha with water: If you are a vegan, this is the easiest way to consume ashwagandha. The prep is similar to ashwagandha milk but without the milk obviously. Replace the milk with water and you can drink this mixture.
Ashwagandha Oil: From arthritis to even a sore day after working out, ashwagandha oil is your go-to since it relieves muscle tension.
Ashwagandha paste for your hair: Ashwagandha can reverse premature greying of hair (How to get strong hairs and healthy scalp?)by producing melanin, the pigment responsible for the colour of your hair.
Research source: ashwagandha immunity – PMC – NCBI (nih.gov)
Recipe of Dhokla with hidden herbs and nuts
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- 1/2 cup curd
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- 1 teaspoon salt
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- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 15 curry leaves
- 2 sliced green chilly
- 1 handful coriander leaves
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