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Ashwagandha, An Ancient Herb to Deal With Stress


Ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub native to India. It is sometimes called Indian ginseng, because it has many of the same healing properties as ginseng. Ashwagandha is used in Ayurvedic medicine, the ancient Indian form of healing still practiced today. It is also used in Chinese medicine. Both systems of medicine use ashwagandha as a tonic or an herb to heal the entire body. It is perfect for this type of healing, because the herb is an adaptogen. As such, it can strengthen the entire body, as ginseng does. It can also be used to treat fatigue and many conditions related to aging. Another thing that ashwagandha does is help the body to better resist the effects of stress.

When the body is under constant stress, there are numerous health issues that can manifest themselves. These include such ailments as stomach ulcers, male sexual dysfunction, high blood sugar, and learning problems. In addition, the person under stress can find their immune system is compromised and an increase in the stress hormones. All of these can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, fatigue, and general malaise. As an adaptogen, ashwagandha can significantly reduce these symptoms of stress, as has been noted in Indian studies of the herb. A Russian scientist N. V. Lazarev, Ph.D. and his student Israel I. Brekhman, Ph.D. both indicated as long ago as 1947 that adaptogens, such as ashwagandha, can increase the body’s resistance to a vast number of adverse conditions, as well as improve many conditions through their ability to bring the body back into balance. All of this can also be accomplished without aggravating other conditions and with minimal side effects. It has been shown in more recent studies that ashwagandha in particular has antidepressant and anti-anxiety properties. All of this indicates that this ancient herb can be a good choice for those wishing an all-natural treatment for stress, depression, and anxiety.

Ashwagandha, however, is not an herb that is commonly grown in the United States. It is more often found in its native India, as well as, Pakistan, Egypt, Spain, Morocco, the Canary Islands, and South Africa. Americans desiring to use ashwagandha as an all-natural treatment will have to find supplements. Fortunately more health food stores and online herbal supplement companies are producing supplements that include this herb and that are specifically designed to help deal with stress. It is also better to take the supplements, because the dosages are more uniform. In addition, anyone doing so should follow the instructions on the manufacturers label. High dosages can cause stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, drowsiness, and loss of motor functions. Pregnant women should never take ashwagandha, because it can cause abortions. Furthermore, nursing mothers should avoid it. Patients should also consult their primary physician before taking the herb, if they are already taking other pharmaceuticals. (There is a potential for herb-drug interactions.) Finally, if symptoms for which ashwagandha is being taken persist after two weeks, a health care professional should be consulted. After all of these precautions are considered, however, ashwagandha can be an excellent choice for those wishing to deal with their stress naturally.

Source by Tonya Rasmussen

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