Ashwagandha Benefits for Diabetes Management
The rising tide of diabetes across the world combined with the expense and general inability of allopathic medicines to cure diabetes has raised interest in natural healing practices. The oldest of these—and perhaps the most effective—is Ayurveda.
One of Ayurveda’s biggest USPs is that it understands and realizes the uncommon benefits of many common products—including fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices. One of the most potent of these is Ashwagandha.
Sometimes referred to as Indian ginseng, Ashwagandha, or Withania Somnifera to give it its medical name, has powerful antioxidant properties that help protect cells from the oxidative damage of free radicals.
Ashwagandha is also believed to boost immunity thus giving added protection from many common ailments, of which, blood sugar regulation is one.
Studies have shown that the plant has the ability to reduce blood glucose levels (BSL). One such study found that taking Ashwagandha root powder had a salutary effect on BSL. In other studies, researchers noted Ashwagandha’s ability to reduce BSL in people undergoing stress-related conditions.
Medicinal Properties of Ashwagandha
Research is on to understand how science can better use this anti-diabetic property of Ashwagandha to formulate medicines that can help diabetics better manage their condition. In addition to its anti-diabetic properties, Ashwagandha is also known to possess the following health-enhancing properties:
Ashwagandha contains a high percentage of antioxidants that give it the ability to neutralize harmful free radicals that damage cells in the body.
Inflammation in the body is one of the key causes of insulin resistance. Reducing this is critical in managing metabolic health problems like diabetes.
2. Protects against heart ailments
Ashwagandha has a stimulating effect on nitric oxide production, so taking Ashwagandha dilates blood vessels, thus increasing blood flow. One added beneficial side effect is that this can also ease erectile dysfunction.
3. Treatment of brain disorders
The roots of the Ashwagandha plant have a significant content of phytonutrients—withanolides, alkaloids, sitoindosides, etc., which have been found to be highly effective in treating various brain disorders.
4. Liver detox
Ashwagandha is commonly used to prevent and treat liver damage. Ashwagandha’s high content of antioxidants helps the liver excrete harmful and toxic metabolic byproducts.
It has also been seen to be very effective in improving mitochondrial activity in the liver. Studies to validate these findings are still ongoing.
Both roots and leaves of the Ashwagandha plant have been found to possess strong antibacterial properties, offering robust protection against harmful bacteria like salmonella.
6. Pain relief
Ashwagandha has been traditionally used as a pain reliever for its ability to block pain signals from traveling in the CNS (Central Nervous System) to the brain. This ability, in addition to its anti-inflammatory properties, makes it effective in treating some forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
7. Anti-cancer properties
Some laboratory studies have noted Ashwagandha’s ability to slow the growth of cancer cells. It is also known to provide stress relief and improve general health. Anxiety, fatigue, and mental stress are common to cancer, which has made Ashwagandha a popular supplement for patients suffering from cancer.
Caution and Care
While moderate use—under the supervision of a medical professional—has shown very little risk in using Ashwagandha, the herb does have some toxic properties, if consumed in excess which can lead to liver damage. So it is advisable to speak to your doctor before incorporating Ashwagandha into your care routine.
How to Use Ashwagandha
Depending on the condition is it being used to treat, there are various methods to prepare and use Ashwagandha
- Orally as a powder
Oral consumption of Ashwagandha powder is known to reduce BSL and increase sodium levels excreted in the urine. It is also sometimes prescribed for neurodegenerative problems and cancer,
Applying Ashwagandha paste can reduce inflammation and swelling of the joints
- With ghee
When combined with ghee (clarified butter), Ashwagandha’s natural antioxidant properties are increased, making it more potent.