Ashwagandha is a plant whose roots and berries can boost the immune system, delay aging, and improve your general well-being. Ashwagandha goes by the scientific name of Withania somnifera, but most people call it ‘poison gooseberry’.
The Health Benefits of the Ashwagandha Herb
It’s been known for its use in treating a range of conditions, including arthritis, insomnia, tuberculosis, asthma, bronchitis, fibromyalgia, chronic liver disease, and leukoderma. More recently, the ‘Indian ginseng’ known for its beneficial properties in Ayurvedic, Unani, Indian and African medicine, has been used as an adaptogen.
Some use it solely to lose or put on weight as it helps regulate the hormone levels in both men and women. It’s also used to improve cognitive function, delay the effects of aging, alleviate fertility problems, lower blood pressure, reduce swelling and pain, and strengthen the immune system.
The Healthy Ashwagandha Diet
People take ashwagandha herb powder and extracts in small daily doses. This usually amounts to less than 5g or a teaspoonful per day. It can be mixed with other powders or sprinkled in warm milk.
In some parts of the world, the seeds, fruit, and shoots are eaten raw. To find out how and in what doses to take these herbal products, it’s best to seek medical advice from your doctor.
The Side-Effects and Risks of an Ashwagandha Regime
By all accounts, ashwagandha is an acquired taste. The powder is easier to tolerate when mixed with oats, cinnamon, berries, and nuts, and eaten as a breakfast cereal with milk or kefir. For a hot cereal breakfast, add warm cow’s milk.
As this isn’t a well-studied herb, not many side-effects have been identified. However, they are currently known to range from digestive problems, such as diarrhea and vomiting, to respiratory, renal and circulatory problems like kidney damage and low blood pressure.
If you have health conditions like lupus, multiple sclerosis, cancer, diabetes, and ulcers, you shouldn’t take ashwagandha until you’ve spoken to your doctor. It’s also best to stop taking the herb several weeks before surgery, because it may interfere with your pre-op test results. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are also advised not to use it.