Fruits on a Ashwagandha plant, Withania somnifera

Ashwagandha. Try to say that three times fast you’ll probably get tongue-tied.

Besides the name being hard to pronounce, that’s truly the only hard thing about this natural herb that works wonders in a number of areas. If you’ve started to read any labels on natural herb mixes or supplements, you’ve probably seen ashwagandha listed there lately. As a matter of fact, BDO came out with it’s first-ever complete, organic, all-natural supplement drink, Green Power, that tastes great in a glass and it’s packed with this stuff.

It’s definitely growing in popularity, and some say it helps with multiple conditions including cancer, diabetes, inflammation, and autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. But what is it really and what does it actually do?

Ashwagandha is a small evergreen shrub. It grows in India, the Middle East, and parts of Africa. According to medical historians, ashwagandha is one of the most important herbs in Ayurveda, a form of alternative medicine based on Indian principles of natural healing. The root and berry are used to make medicine.

Ashwagandha is Sanskrit for smell of the horse, which refers to its unique earthy smell as well as it’s ability to increase strength.

Its botanical name is Withania somnifera, and it’s also known by several other names, including Indian ginseng and winter cherry.

Improves Sexual Performance

Ashwagandha has been studied in both women and men with a variety of sexual problems. The natural herb has been widely used to reduce stress and many of us know that stress can inhibit sexual performance in anyone. But eliminating stress is only half of the equation of how ashwagandha works. The U.S. National Library of Medicine states that as of now, there’s insufficient evidence that ashwagandha can improve the symptoms of sexual dysfunction.

One study, published in October 2015, in the journal BioMed Research International, tracked 50 heterosexual women who were experiencing sexual dysfunction — difficulty becoming aroused or having an orgasm, low libido, or other problems — and found that those who took 600 mg of ashwagandha extract every day reported feeling more satisfied with their sexual encounters with their partner, more lubrication and arousal, and more orgasms at the end of 8 weeks than women who took a placebo.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) capsules
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) capsules. Concept for a healthy dietary supplementation. Bright stone background.

Reduces Stress Levels

Researchers have reported that it blocked the stress pathway in the brains of rats by regulating chemical signaling in the nervous system.

Also, several controlled human studies have shown that it can reduce symptoms in people with stress and anxiety disorders.

According to the National Institutes of Health,

a 60-day study of people with chronic stress found that those in the group that supplemented with ashwagandha reported a 69% reduction in anxiety and insomnia, on average, compared with 11% in the placebo group.

In another 6-week study, 88% of people who took ashwagandha reported a reduction in anxiety, compared with 50% of those who took a placebo.

Produces More relaxing Sleep

Sleeplessness and other sleep disorder such as restless leg syndrome are common complaints among the middle-aged population. Insomnia is one of the most common neuropsychiatric disorders, with an estimated incident of 10-15% in general population and 30-60% in elderly population. It is closely linked with certain other diseases including obesity, cardiovascular diseases, depression, anxiety, mania deficits etc. Currently available synthetic drugs often show severe side effects. That’s where the natural, no-side-effect, nature of ashwagandha steps in.

In findings listed from the National Institutes of Health, ashwagandha extract has sleep-inducing potential is well tolerated and improves sleep quality and sleep onset latency in patients with insomnia at a dose of 300 mg extract twice daily. It could be a potential candidate for treatment of insomnia and anxiety.