Ashwagandha: The Ayurvedic Secret to Pain and Stress Relief
Ashwagandha and Ayurveda
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda, or Ayurvedic medicine, is a traditional system of medicine that originated in India over 5000 years ago. Ayurveda aims to prevent and treat illnesses with a holistic approach, incorporating both therapies such as diet, exercise, and meditation, and natural remedies such as herbs and minerals. Ayurvedic medicine is considered to be very effective in many cases, and is still a widely practiced system of healthcare in India and other parts of South Asia.
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha, commonly known as “Indian ginseng” or “Indian winter cherry,” is an evergreen shrub commonly found in India, Africa, and the Middle East. Ashwagandha is a notable herb in Ayurvedic medicine, with its leaves, seeds, roots, and berries being used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. Ashwagandha supplements can come in the form of gummies, capsules, liquid drops, powders, etc., and it is often used to treat pain, anxiety/stress, and a host of other conditions.
Ashwagandha for Pain
Ashwagandha possesses analgesic properties and is often used as a pain reliever. The herb is believed to work by controlling pain signals and preventing them from reaching and traveling up the central nervous system. Along with that, Ashwagandha is known to possess anti-inflammatory effects, making the herb a good relief treatment for patients with joint pain.
According to a 2016 study, patients with knee pain and inflammation saw a decrease in both symptoms after taking Ashwagandha supplements, and according to a 2015 study, patients with rheumatoid arthritis found Ashwagandha to have potential as a treatment option.
Ashwagandha for Stress and Anxiety
Along with pain relief, Ashwagandha is widely used as a treatment for stress and anxiety. Ashwagandha helps to normalize cortisol levels. As cortisol is a stress hormone, regulating the release of cortisol can help decrease symptoms of stress and anxiety in a patient. Several studies have been conducted on Ashwagandha’s effect on anxiety symptoms, including a study that compared Ashwagandha to the drug Lorazepam, which is a sedative and anxiety medication. In this study, it was found that Ashwagandha regulates monitored cortisol levels and leads to lower self-reported levels of anxiety in test subjects.
Other Benefits of Ashwagandha
While pain and stress management are the most common uses of Ashwagandha, this medicinal herb has a wide array of health benefits. Ashwagandha can be used as immune supplements, as it has been shown to improve immune function. Along with that, several studies have examined Ashwagandha’s effects on neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, etc. Many of them have found that when taken in the early stages of the disease, Ashwagandha may protect against the loss of brain function and connectivity that causes these conditions. The herb has also shown success in improving symptoms of ‘brain fog’ that are characteristic to ADHD. Additionally, Ashwagandha is rich in iron and is shown to increase hemoglobin levels, so supplements may be used to treat anemia following a doctor’s permission. Studies have shown that Ashwagandha can even stop cell growth for certain types of cancer, although more research is needed to confirm Ashwagandha’s benefits as a cancer treatment.
Side Effects and Drug Interactions of Ashwagandha
Though small to moderate doses of Ashwagandha are unlikely to cause side effects, larger doses may cause:
- Stomach irritation
Along with that, those who are pregnant or breastfeeding are discouraged from taking Ashwagandha supplements.
There is also evidence that Ashwagandha might interact negatively with medications such as:
- Diabetes and high blood pressure medicine
- Thyroid hormone medication
It’s important to talk to a healthcare provider to formulate a safe dosage and treatment plan that will work with you and the medication you are taking.
Overall, Ashwagandha has a wide array of health benefits and is especially useful for pain management. It’s important to be cognizant of dosage, side effects, and possible adverse reactions to medications before using Ashwagandha. Talk to your healthcare provider, who can provide you with personalized dosage information and treatment plans, and help you better understand possible reactions to your medication.
Contact our office to learn how Ospina Medical can help connect you with the supplements you need.
Written By: Harshitha Mageshkumar
Edited By: Camden Rowe