What is Indian ginseng?
Indian ginseng, the magical herb scientifically known as Withania Somnifera. In ayurvedic medicine Indian ginseng, known as Ashwagandha has been used for hundreds of years to treat wide variety of diseases. Indian ginseng health benefits has been gained in both Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine, this plant has been used to treat people for their day to day illnesses such as anxiety, stress, exhaustion, lack of sleep, hypertension, rheumatism, arthritis, and asthma. This plant is native to India and it grows well in tropical and dry regions.
It is called as Aswagandha in Sanskrit, amukkara in Tamil, ashgandh in Hindi, dhuppa in Bengali, amukkuram in Malayalam, kanchuki in Kannada, ashkandha in Marathi, asod in Gujarathi.
Ashwagandha Nutrition Facts
Ashwagandha or Indian ginseng is rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, anti-stress and sleep-inducing properties. It is a great source of nutrients such as iron, potassium, nitrates, glucose, tannins (1), and fatty acids. It also contains some vital steroidal alkaloids like sominine, somniferine, withanolides, and anferine.
Ashwagandha health benefits
The roots, leaves, bark, seeds and berries of Indian ginseng plants are used for medicinal purposes. The roots are easily available in the market in dried, powdered and fresh root form. The fresh root can be chewed or brewed as tea.
Let us see the various health benefits of Indian Ginseng.
Indian ginseng contains effective antioxidants that successfully fight the damaging free radicals, produces through exposure to harmful UV radiation from the sun. Also reduces kidney injury due to oxidative stress, fight cataract blindness, and treats asthma.
Keeps cholesterol level under control
Indian ginseng is highly beneficial for heart problems, due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties can strengthen the heart muscular walls and also keeps the cholesterol level under control. Researchers found that Indian ginseng holds hypo lipidemic property that can bring down bad cholesterol in the blood.
Reduces blood sugar levels
Ayurveda has long used Indian ginseng as a powerful diabetes fighter.
“A study conducted in 2009 on diabetic mice shows that Indian ginseng roots and the leaves extract were definitely beneficial in reducing blood sugar levels”.
The roots and leaves extract of Ashwagandha may be useful in treating anxiety disorders for psychiatric practice in humans. The extract has been used in the traditional medicine called Ayurveda to treat both mental and physical health. It improves resistance towards stress and thereby improves the quality of life. Regular consumption of Indian ginseng can significantly decrease the cortisol levels and reduces stress (2). Cortisol is the body’s stress hormone that contributes to wrinkles, cognitive impairment, and muscle weakness and loss.
Indian ginseng leaves and roots contain sleep inducing active compounds, thus makes it very effective in treating insomnia. Traditionally it has been used as a powder mixed with honey or warm milk for calming and regulating the sleep and wake cycles(3). Ashwagandha can calm the nervous system, ease stress and get rid of sleeplessness. Take hot milk mixed with one teaspoon of Indian ginseng powder before bed time.
Boost thyroid function
Animal studies proved that ashwagandha has thyroid hormone balancing effect. So, it could be beneficial to people with low thyroid function(4).
Researchers conducted a study, the root extract was given daily for 20 days to adult mice. They found that the mice blood levels of both thyroxine and tri-iodothyroxine (T3) were increased.
Thyroxine is the hormone produced by the thyroid gland, from where this hormone travels to organs like kidney and liver and gets converted to its active form, tri-iodothyroxine. Tri-iodothyroxine attacks almost all physiological processes in the body. It improves growth and development, maintains body temperature and heart rate.
One more important health benefit of Indian ginseng is that it helps boost the immune function. As it is rich in antioxidants, it helps increase the production of white blood cells and improves immunity. The better immune function reduces the chances of getting sick and ensure overall good health.
Drinking a glass of tea prepared with Indian ginseng will keep your immune system strong(5). But the same is not recommended to people those who suffer with high blood pressure.
Promotes bone health
Indian ginseng activates bone formation and it is considered as a bone building agent. It increases the action of bone producing genes and reduces bone resorption. It also decreases strain, stress and inflammation, a major cause of bone loss. Indian ginseng promotes the survival of osteoblasts and supress the proteins that promotes inflammation.
Take 2 tablespoons of Indian ginseng powder in warm cow’s milk. Add palm sugar or jaggery according to your taste. Consume every night before going to bed. Regular consumption of this drink improves vitality and bone strength.
Treats erectile dysfunction
Indian ginseng is a traditional medicine to treat oligospermia, male infertility and erectile dysfunction. It can balance hormones and also improves fertility by promoting relaxation and decreasing stress. The extract is effective on seminal metabolites in infertile male and in increasing sexual competence in male (6). However, use the extract for erectile dysfunction only under the recommendation of a professional medical practitioner.
High doses of drugs, infectious agents, toxins and chemicals will rise the toxic load on the kidney. Antibiotic consumption leads to free radical generation, eventually leading to inflammation. The inability of the body to obstruct free radical causes kidney damage and can lead to cancer. Indian ginseng contains antioxidants, bioflavonoids and bioactive compounds (7). All these compounds help fight against the free radical and prevent the formation.
Lowers high blood pressure
High blood pressure is one among the reason for kidney failure. When the blood pressure increases, the blood vessels in the kidney face the effects of the damage. This mainly affects its ability to filter the waste and extra fluid from the blood. Indian ginseng has the ability to reduce blood pressure.
“A study proved that consuming Indian ginseng root powder mixed with milk, significantly reduced the systolic and diastolic readings” (8).
This powerful herb is recognized as a natural medicine in the fight against cancer. The antioxidant qualities of Indian ginseng are the first line of defence against cancer. It fights off free radicals that might support the development of cancer cells. Indian ginseng is not only fights off cancer cells, also it helps the body to limit the growth of cancerous tumours. To do this activity, the herb limits the blood vessels that feed cancerous cells (9). This process is called as anti-angiogenic activity. Many studies have proved that Indian ginseng can help prevent or stop the growth of cancer cells.
Stimulates brain power
Indian ginseng holds several natural chemicals that help improve the production of acetylcholine, an organic chemical compound. Acetylcholine is the main transmitter of neural signals, this in turn improves cognitive skills including concentration, thinking and memory. It can even support the growth of neural cells that have already been damaged, and thus help reduce the risk of age-related mental diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases(9).
Increases blood production
Indian ginseng possesses hematopoietic properties, it helps in the process of producing new blood. Regular consumption of this powder can increase red and white blood cell counts, thereby helping to prevent conditions like anemia.
Indian ginseng for skin
Indian ginseng is a trusted herbal remedy for all the skin related woes. It contains the goodness of antioxidants, that successfully fight against the damaging free radicals and remove dark circles, wrinkles, pimples, stretch marks and fine lines.
Side effects of Indian ginseng
- Some people may experience skin allergies due to its usage. This reaction includes skin rashes, inflammation, and itchiness.
- Indian ginseng can cause bleeding, so people who are suffering with bleeding disorder or who is about to undergo surgery can avoid using this herb.
- Studies show that Indian ginseng can lower blood sugar levels. However, those who are taking diabetic medicine must avoid this herb, as it might end up lowering blood sugar levels too much, which is again a problem.
- It is not suitable for those with stomach ulcers. Indian ginseng can irritate the gastrointestinal tract. This might also cause diarrhea and upset stomach.
- The relaxing properties of Indian ginseng can lead to drowsiness. Hence, do not use this herb in conjunction with other sedative medications.
- Too much intake of Indian ginseng can cause dry mouth in certain individuals. So, it is better to consult a doctor if the condition arises.
- Indian ginseng is not suitable for pregnant women. This herb can harm the baby or even terminate pregnancy. It is useful during breastfeeding, moreover it will increase quantity and quality of breast milk. But to be on the safe side, use minimum dosage.
Indian ginseng tea
- ½ cup milk
- ½ water
- 1 teaspoon Indian ginseng powder
- 1 teaspoon palm sugar
- Pinch of cardamom
- Add water and milk to a pan.
- Add Indian ginseng powder and palm sugar.
- Boil on low flame till the mixture reduces to ½ cup.
- Switch off the flame, add a pinch of cardamom.
- Let it cool down to a lukewarm temperature.
- Drink once or twice a day.
Indian ginseng cookies
- ½ cup refined wheat flour
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tsp Indian ginseng powder
- ¼ cup butter
- 1/8 cup sugar
- ¼ cup milk
- Mix wheat flour, salt and Indian ginseng powder and keep aside.
- Melt the butter in a pan.
- Add sugar to the melted butter and mix well.
- Add milk and mix together.
- Now, add the dry ingredients to it.
- Mix well and knead into a dough.
- Form the dough into cookies and keep on a baking sheet.
- Bake in the oven at 375F for 2 to 3 minutes.
Enjoy the delicious Indian ginseng cookies.
Make Ashwagandha a part of your diet and benefit from this treasure!