Ashwagandha, also named Withania somnifera or Indian Ginseng, is a potent herb used for more than 3000 years in the Ayurvedic system of medicine for multiple purposes.
The seeds, leaves, roots, and orange-red fruit of this small shrub are used in different ways to treat various illnesses.
Typically known as Rasayana (the herb of youthfulness) in Ayurvedic medicine, this herb has many proven health benefits, especially for older men and women.
Here are the seven research-based health benefits of Ashwagandha for older adults.
May Regulate Your Blood Sugar Levels
Ashwagandha can significantly improve blood sugar levels by increasing the production and release of insulin and increasing the insulin sensitivity of muscle cells.
Many studies have shown Ashwagandha to reduce baseline blood sugar levels both in diabetes patients and healthy individuals.
Moreover, in a 2013 study, schizophrenia patients who took Ashwagandha for four weeks showed a mean reduction of 13 mg/dL compared to the control group (received placebo), leading to a 4.5 my/dL decrease in blood glucose levels.
Anxiety and stress relaxation is the most common and well-known use of Ashwagandha.
Ashwagandha significantly reduces cortisol secretion. Cortisol is the hormone that induces stress and leads to increased blood glucose and fat storage.
Withanolides, the chemical compounds of Ashwagandha, regulate the chemical signals and block the brain's stress pathway to help reduce stress and anxiety.
Multiple human trials have shown significant symptom improvements in people with anxiety and stress disorders.
May Alleviate Depression
Ashwagandha compounds may also help alleviate the symptoms of depression.
A 2012 study, which included 64 depressed older adults who consumed a 600-milligram dose of high-concentration ethanol ashwagandha extract for almost two months, showed a 79% reduction in depression symptoms of adults taking Ashwagandha as compared to a 10% reduction in symptoms of depression in the control group.
However, further research is needed to establish the use of Ashwagandha as an alternative treatment for depression disorders.
May Prevent Certain Cancers
Withaferin, the chemical compound in Ashwagandha, has significant potential to prevent and treat certain cancers, e.g., breast, ovarian, colon, lung, and brain cancers.
Withaferin helps regulate the cell cycle and inhibits the production of abnormal cancer cells. Moreover, it induces apoptosis (programmed cell death) of the cancer cells by producing reactive oxygen species in these cells.
In an animal study, mice with ovarian cancer who were treated with withaferin alone or in conjunction with other anticancer drugs showed an 80% reduction in cancer growth. Also, they reduced the spread of disease to other organs.
May Boost Testosterone in Men
Ashwagandha has significant potential to increase testosterone levels, sperm count, fertility and reduce oxidative stress in the seminal vessels in healthy and infertile men.
In a 2010 study, 75 infertile men showed significantly increased sperm count and motility and increased testosterone levels after being treated with Ashwagandha. Antioxidant levels in the blood of all men were also raised.
Another research showed that 14% of stressed infertile men's spouses got pregnant after a 3-month treatment with Ashwagandha.
May Reduce Joint Pain
Ashwagandha can also benefit from joint pain, especially without causing any side effects, unlike NSAIDs, which cause severe side effects like stomach pain, ulcers, allergies, and kidney problems.
Several studies have shown Ashwagandha to be a potential alternative for conventional medical therapies for joint pain and arthritis.
Ashwagandha promotes the synthesis of serotonin, which is a potent analgesic.
A 2015 study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research showed Ashwagandha a potential treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.
May Regulate Blood Cholesterol Levels
Ashwagandha also benefits your heart health by regulating blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
An animal study showed Ashwagandhathat Ashwagandha reduced cholesterol levels by 53% and triglycerides by 45% in rats.
A 2008 study on chronically stressed men who took high concentration Ashwagandha-extracts for 60 days showed a 17% decrease in harmful (LDL) cholesterol levels and a 13% decrease in triglyceride levels.
The Bottom Line
Ashwagandha is a souvenir medicinal herb used in the Ayurvedic system of medicine. It has a lot of benefits for both men and women of all ages. Stress relaxation, anxiety, and depression alleviation, leading to the calmness of mind, are the most well-known effects of Ashwagandha. It regulates blood glucose, blood cholesterol, and blood triglyceride levels and boosts testosterone levels in men. It also prevents certain cancers, e.g., breast, colon, lungs, and liver cancer.
Taking all these benefits of Ashwagandha, it is highly recommended for elderly individuals to take ashwagandha supplements regularly—best wishes for you to enjoy a healthy life.