Ashwagandha is considered to be one of the most important herbs in Ayurvedic medicine. Since ancient times, this plant has been used to ease the symptoms for a variety of medical conditions and is most popular for its restorative benefits. In Indian traditional medicine, ashwagandha is referred as Indian ginseng because of its rejuvenating properties.
Ashwagandha is described to be a shrub with yellow flowers and oval leaves and bears a red fruit. The leaves, fruit and flowers have valuable therapeutic uses, but its roots are the most widely used part in Easter and Western traditional medicine. Native to the sub-tropical realms of India, Middle East and Northern Africa, ashwagandha also thrives in milder climates, including America. Ashwagandha translates to “the smell of a horse” in Sanskrit, from the combination of two terms ashva (meaning horse) and gandha (meaning smell). In fact, the root of the ashwagandha has a strong smell that is often described as “stallion-like”. In effect, many believed that the herb has the strength and vitality of a horse and has been known to help people regain their strength when recuperating after an illness.
It was found out that ashwagandha contains withanolides, a group of steroidal lactone that is known to have neuron and brain regenerative properties. This leads us to believe that ashwagandha may be beneficial to people suffering from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and dementia, three of the most common neurodegenerative diseases in the world. What happens is that the components of nerve cells- axons and dendrites- and the pathways they travel are destroyed. The result is a decline in their cognitive abilities, such as perception and learning and reasoning. Studies have found out that ashwagandha supports regeneration of impaired neurons and nerve-signaling network. Reconstruction of axons and dendrites and as well as its synapses (the communication junctions between two neurons, or between a neuron and a muscle) are seen. This makes ashwagandha an avid supporter of optimal cognitive functioning because of its ability to lessen the symptoms of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. A separate study has also discovered the plant’s amazing ability in supporting the growth of dendrites, the body of the neuron that receives contacts from other cells. This concludes that ashwagandha supports ideal recovery of brain tissues changes that are seen in people afflicted with dementia.
Another scope of the ashwagandha plant’s herbal benefits focuses on relieving stress and strengthening the immune system. It was validated in several scientific studies that the ancient herb ashwagandha is an effective alternative to antidepressants and tranquilisers. The modern lifestyle that is widely practiced by the present generation is considered to be deleterious and extravagant, which leads to detrimental effects such as chronic stress. Stress causes the dramatic increase of free radicals in the body, which leads to weakening the immune system by destroying healthy cells. An effect of chronic nervous tension is premature aging, as a result of constantly high oxidative stress. This is counteracted by the powerful antioxidant properties of ashwagandha plant, and makes this herb an effective and efficient anti-stress agent.
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