Withania somnifera popularly referred as Ashwagandha is one of the most well received Ayurvedic herbs in the western world. And it is without a doubt the most beneficial and beloved root that nature has gifted mankind. The herb is also called winter cherry or Indian ginseng. For thousands of years Ayurveda has been using it as a rasayana (rejuvenative) and it is prominent as an adaptogenic herb, which means it is used to help the body withstand physiological and psychological stress by adapting to the requirements of the body. The roots of Ashwagandha have been used to treat a variety diseases or disorders about which we are going to discuss further.
There are various health benefits that can be extracted from Ashwagandha with the following examples:
1) Ashwagandha and its Proven Benefits in Gout
Gout can be more characterised by redness, inflammation, severe pain or swelling at the influenced site. It is usually caused by the building-up of harmful uric acid crystals that causes damage to the tissues. The disease is generally seen in men but some women are affected by it as well. Certain lifestyle pushes individuals to this disease. Some of the reasons being overweight, too much consumption of alcohol or over-consumption of certain purine-rich types of fish. The accumulation of uric acid in the blood is toxic and cause damage to surrounding tissues and joints.
In the following points, we discover some of the advantages it offers in gout treatment with fitting scientific evidence for the same:
One of the major indications from gout is the gradual and continuous deterioration of cartilage. This occurs as a result of a series of metabolic changes that decays the tissue over time. Studies discovered that the powder extracted from the Withania somnifera roots resulted in significant reduction in swelling.
The measure of gout-related enzymes- beta-glucuronidase and lactate dehydrogenase levels, which are usually elevated under diseased conditions were brought down to normal levels. This proves that the density and strength of the cartilage is intact by the metabolic regulatory activity of ashwagandha.
Unconfined radicles are unhealthy chemicals found in our body in an unbound state. These are kept in check by antioxidant compounds. If the rate of accumulation of free radicles surpasses the rate of their elimination, a toxic condition known as oxidative stress takes birth.
The potential of Withania somnifera to reduce oxidative stress have been studied using different animal models. One of these included the use of inflammatory arthritis in an animal model who was administered different doses of the compound over a month at the end of which the oxidative stress was relieved. This was due to the capability of Withania somnifera to effectively reduce lipid peroxidation and glutathione-S-transferase activity.
Individuals who are obese or overweight are at higher risk of being diagnosed with gout. It is due to the excess fats putting pressure on collagen fibers that holds together connective tissues. This in return, weakens the joints leading to gout. Ashwagandha is believed to able to reverse the damage caused to collagen fibers and simultaneously strengthens them.
Inflammation is one of the major contributors of joint pain and swelling. It occurs due to the body’s attempts to repair damage at a particular area. It is one of the main indicators of gout. In recent experiments done on animals, it was discovered that the administration of Withania somnifera (ashwagandha) reduced inflammation and in turn improved joint mobility.
Many of the outbursts associated with gout take place due to autoimmune reactions. These activities occur due to the hyperactivity of autoantibodies. This further leads to pain and inflammation. In order to study the capabilities of Withania somnifera to modulate the autoantibody mechanisms and experiment was conducted.
The experiment included the treatment with Withania somnifera for 20 days after which autoantibodies such as anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody (a-CCP), rheumatoid factor (RF), antinuclear antibody (ANA), inflammatory marker like C-reactive protein (CRP) and anti-collagen type II antibody (a-CII) were determined. It was noted that Ashwagandha was able to regulate autoantibody action in a dose-dependent manner thereby lowering inflammation happenings.
The accumulation of uric acid crystals in the intestine which passes on to the bloodstream without getting broken down is one of the major causes of gout. This problem can be prevented through intestinal cleansing agents, Ashwagandha could provide potential aid in this respect.
The ashwagandha or Withania somnifera gel has been used to free many ailments of the intestine some of which include diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and antibiotic-associated diarrhea. This can be accredited to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities.
Hence, regular consumption of Withania somnifera can lead to the elimination of uric acid accumulation in the intestine and in return avert the joint pain it causes in gout patients.
2) Ashwagandha and Its Benefits for Cancer Treatment
As per research and recent studies, it is said that Ashwagandha has potential anti-cancer effects. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a largely used herb in Ayurveda. It is acknowledged as an adaptogen or a Rasayana herb which is also called as ‘Indian ginseng’. The leaves and roots, other parts of the Ashwagandha plants like seeds, berries and shoots have been used in the form of tonics and various home remedy recipes to improve health.
Causes of Cancer
Cancer can be referred to as a hyperproliferative disorder in which the healthy cells or benign tumours are transformed into malignant ones, abnormality of normal cell death processes, multiplication by unrestricted cell division, interference by other cells, growth of new blood vessels that support the growth of cancer cells and advancement of cancer from one organ to another that are indirectly connected with it.
Other causative factors In formation and development of cancer are:
How does Ashwagandha Stand Against Cancer?
Ashwagandha stops the growth of Cancer Cells. The initial count of cancer cells is reduced for fighting the disease’s growth. To put it in layman terms: ashwagandha being an antioxidant, fight off radicals that support the growth of cancer cells.
In the year 2010, a study came to promising a conclusion that ashwagandha and its active ingredients have resulted in selective elimination of cancer cells. Researchers have also reported that Withania is an active ingredient in ashwagandha that is more effective than traditional chemotherapy drugs.
Ashwagandha helps the body to stop the growth of cancerous tumors beyond cellular level. The herb limits the bloods vessels that feed cancerous cells and this is called “anti-angiogenic activity.” In simple terms, it cuts off the supply network that allows tumors to thrive and proliferate.
While treating cancer, it is very important to focus on building one’s immunity. Chemotherapy treatment is harmful to a patient’s immunity system that further results in a decrease of white blood cell counts making you vulnerable to infection. Using ashwagandha as an immunity booster can help in curbing the dangerous side effects.
Ashwagandha and its Impact On Different Types Of Cancer
Ashwagandha plays a vital role in the therapeutic treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. Its components or constituents help to regenerate neuronal networks, axons, dendrites and improve memory gain.
Glioblastoma is the most usual and difficult malignant brain tumor to treat. Ashwagandha and its supporting components have the ability to induce growth arrest and differentiation in glioma cells thereby offering an effective glioma therapy.
A prospective comparative experiment was conducted on several patients with breast cancer of all stages. The trial was a combination of chemotherapy with oral consumption of Withania somnifera. Patients that relied on ashwagandha experience much lower fatigue as compared to others who did not.
Ashwagandha converts various functionally relevant important classes of genes and molecular signaling mechanisms, which are closely related to inflammation, immune response, signal transduction, cell signaling, transcriptional regulation, apoptosis, and cell cycle regulation. This makes ashwagandha an effective agent that is relevant to the progression of prostate cancer.
A study conducted on Swiss Albino mice with induced skin cancer concluded that treatment with the root extract from ashwagandha resulted in a huge decrease in skin lesions. Te biochemical also became normal. The inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties of Ashwagandha extract resulted in anti-chemotherapy action.
Aiysha Khan is a blogger who loves to write especially in the Health vertical. She is a Health Consultant too at Bestveda Ayurvedic Store.
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