Ashwagandha! What, Why and How Good?

Ashwagandha has anti-viral, immunity-boosting and therapeutic properties, and these are just a few of this plant's wonderful benefits.

 What is Ashwagandha and why is it so great?


Ashwagandha, also known as “winter cherry” or “Indian ginseng”, is derived from the Withania somnifera plant. This small evergreen shrub is prevalent in India, the Middle East and some parts of Africa. 
Ashwagandha remains one of the central and most powerful herbs among Ayuverdic remedies. It’s also studied and used as part of Rasayana (rejuvenation practices), wjhich is believed to help maintain youth. Many of Ashwagandha’s health benefits are linked to the herb’s active chemical elements, which have anti-viral, immunity-boosting and therapeutic properties. 
Let’s have a closer look at why this herb is good for you.

Reduces stress and anxiety 

      Ashwagandha is perhaps best known for being able to reduce anxiety and stress. Research has shown that the herb blocks the stress pathway in the brain and helps regulate the production of cortisol, the primary stress hormone in the human body. 

      Cortisol is necessary to help the body deal with stressful situations. However, having high levels of cortisol for too long affects mood, sleeping patterns and energy levels, which, in turn, leads to anxiety and stress. 

      Several studies have also shown that ashwagandha can reduce symptoms in people with various stress and anxiety disorders. The herb reduces the symptoms while improving mood, concentration and energy levels. 

      Try KIANO Spicy Calm. This gut-loving gold blend is made with adaptogen ashwagandha to soothe your soul and has powerfully calming anti-inflammatory properties. The black pepper accelerates your body's absorption of tumeric and adds a yummy yet subtle spicy kick. 


      Reduces inflammation

      Chronic inflammation is a big threat to human health. The condition is believed to be a major cause of various health conditions including stroke, asthma, autoimmune diseases, gastrointestinal issues and even cancer. 

      Ashwagandha, on the other hand, is known to reduce inflammation in the body. Studies with humans have revealed an increase in the activity of 'natural killer cells' among people who take ashwagandha. Natural killer cells fight infection and help to reduce inflammation. 

      Ashwagandha can also reduce markers of inflammation. The levels of inflammatory markers in the blood increase when there is a condition causing inflammation somewhere in the body.  A common example of an inflammation marker is C-reactive protein (CRP), which is linked to an increased risk of heart disease. 

      One controlled study highlighted a 36% decrease in CRP among people who took a daily dose of ashwagandha compared to a 6% decrease recorded by participants in the placebo group. Considering the prevalence of diseases connected to chronic inflammation, ashwagandha can hopefully play a big role in curbing the issue.


      Helps with exercise performance and improving muscle mass

      Research has shown that ashwagandha can increase strength and enhance body composition, as well as help regulate body fat. 

      In one study, a group of elite cyclists who took two daily doses of ashwagandha over eight weeks noted increased speed and strength during exercise compared to those who received a placebo. The group taking ashwagandha supplements also showed better breathing patterns.

      Other studies have revealed significantly greater muscle strength and size, plus a greater reduction in body fat percentage among people who take ashwagandha. Put simply, ashwagandha can help optimise exercise performance and help you reach your fitness goals more easily.


      Positive effects on brain function including better memory

      Ancient and traditional use of ashwagandha shows that the herb has a positive effect on memory loss. Current research supports this notion, highlighting that the herb can lessen memory and brain function problems caused by disease or injury. Many researchers link this capability to the fact that ashwagandha has high antioxidant activity, which likely protects nerve cells from harmful free radicals. 

      Ashwagandha can help improve brain function in several ways. For example, it can:

      • boosts memory
      • reduce oxidative stress in the brain
      • fine-tune task performance
      • increase attention spans
      • improve information processing speed and reaction time

      Although much of the research linking ashwagandha to brain function is ongoing, several studies indicate a connection. A controlled study in which a group of twenty healthy men took ashwagandha daily showed substantial improvements to the men’s task performance and reaction time. 



      Find the recipe here.


      Balances blood sugar levels

        Evidence suggests that ashwagandha lowers and balances blood sugar levels as a result of its effect on insulin production and sensitivity. The herb is regarded as beneficial for diabetics and non-diabetics alike. 

        Ashwagandha stimulates the secretion of insulin in the bloodstream, thereby improving the breakdown of sugars in the blood. Regulating blood sugar can help with low energy levels, weight gain and prevention of infections. 

        One test tube study found that ashwagandha increased insulin secretion together with insulin sensitivity in muscle cells. Several human studies have also revealed the herb’s ability to reduce blood sugar levels. For example, in a 4-week study on people with schizophrenia, those treated with ashwagandha showed an average decrease in fasting blood sugar levels compared to those who took a placebo.


        Skin and hair growth

        The impact of ashwagandha on skin and hair has been gaining more interest among researchers. Stress tends to result in hair loss, wrinkles, tired eyes, fine lines and inflamed skin. Ashwagandha has stress-reducing properties, which means that it can have a positive effect on reactive skin and hair. The herb also boasts cell rejuvenation properties that are great for slowing down skin and hair ageing. 

        When it comes to skin, Ashwagandha can boost the production of natural skin oils. It’s also known to improve the production of skin-enriching compounds such as collagen, which increases skin strength, elastin, and improves suppleness. There's also Hyaluronan, which  proves hydration and makes the skin appear smoother and plumper. 

        When used in hair, ashwagandha stimulates the scalp, fights dandruff and improves blood circulation. The herb is also linked to melanin, the pigment that gives hair its natural colour. As such, ashwagandha may be good for slowing down the greying of hair. 



        Find the recipe here
        With all these benefits, Ashwagandha is a great choice for an everyday supplement. The herb has been deemed safe for daily use, but make sure to consult a medical practitioner before using any supplements if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or currently under medical care or taking prescription medication.


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