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No Horsing Around, Ashwagandha Works!

In Sanskrit Ashwagandha means literally, “the smell of a horse.” Fortunately, this name  does not refer to the smell of the plant itself, but instead is indicative of Ashwagandha’s ability to impart the vigor and strength of a stallion.  Historically, Ashwagandha has been particularly beneficial helping people strengthen their immune system after an illness.

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After years of scientific studies involving Ashwagandha, researchers have determined that this amazing plant has a myriad of health giving properties.  Four recent studies clearly illustrate Ashwagandha’s broad array of benefits.

  1. Physical Performance
    In a small double-blind, placebo-controlled study, healthy participants receiving a standardized root extract of ashwagandha for eight weeks showed an increase in speed and muscular strength by nearly 10% in tested physical activity.2
  2. Focus and Concentration
    In this double-blind, placebo-controlled study, twenty healthy males were given 500 mg of ashwagandha root extract for fourteen days. Significant cognitive improvements were seen in reaction-time tests, discrimination tests, and in card sorting tests, among many others. These results show ashwagandha’s ability to support attention, memory, focus, concentration, and responsiveness and coordination between the mind and motor functions.3
  3. Stress and Food Consumption
    In a study with fifty-two healthy subjects experiencing stress for a long period of time, ashwagandha (300 mg twice daily) not only decreased stress (as measured by the perceived stress scale), but also food cravings and overall body weights. This was a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial that lasted eight weeks.4
  4. Rejuvenation
    In a clinical trial with healthy male volunteers aged fifty to sixty-nine, purified ashwagandha powder, given as 3 grams per day for one year, showed increases in blood counts, improved posture, and increased hair melanin (pigmentation of the hair). In another study, healthy children who were given 2 grams of powdered ashwagandha in milk, experienced improvements in blood counts, body weight, and hand strength.

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Truly, Ashwagandha is an herb that can benefit people of all ages.  Because, it is an adaptogen, it has a non specific effect and helps bring the body and mind into balance, it can be taken over an extended period of time with no adverse side effects.  So, put some giddyup into your daily health regimen with Ashwagandha!

References

2 Sandhu Jaspal, et al. “Effects of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) and Terminalia arjuna (Arjuna) on physical performance and cardiorespiratory endurance n healthy young adults.” Int J Ayurveda Res. 1, no 3 (July-Sept 2010):144-149.

3 U Pingali, et al. “Effect of standardized aqueous extract of Withania somnifera on tests of cognitive and psychomotor performance in healthy human subjects.” Pharmacognosy Res. 6, no 1 (January 2014):12-8.

4 D Choudhary, et al. “Body Weight Management in Adults Under Chronic Stress Through Treatment with Ashwagandha Root Extract: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial.” J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. April 6, 2016.

5 Lakshmi-Chandra Mishra, Betsy Singh, and Simon Dagenais. “Scientific Basis for the Therapeutic Use of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha): A Review.” Alternative Medicine Review. 5, no 4 (2000):334-346.

Adaptogens Provide Broad Mind/Body Benefits – Dr. Alison Caldwell-Andrews

You may be one of the millions of people who are looking to feel better. Perhaps you want to improve your immune system or simply get over bronchitis. Maybe you are hoping to avoid coming down with a cold this year or possibly you want to take steps now to avoid future health problems. Or, perhaps you wish you had more endurance and stamina. If you’re a runner or a biker or are hoping to schedule your next triathalon, you probably would love to find a way to increase your ability to train and get better results.

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Another category of people who are looking for help are those who would like to be less anxious, more emotionally stable or less depressed. Better quality sleep, lower blood sugar, improved liver functioning….this list of what we wish for can go on and on. The sum-up here is that most people want better health.

We know that you can’t get healthy by taking a pill.  It’s just common sense, isn’t it?  However, there are some plants that are almost as good as free health in a pill: Adaptogens.

adaptogen-pill  Adaptogens are plants that have been shown to have “non-specific” beneficial effects. What this means is that the effects are not limited to one area; multiple areas of the body will benefit from one plant. You can think if this effect somewhat like nutrition: if your cell mitochondria are fed by nutrients, your whole body will benefit. Adaptogenic plants will not only help you feel more energetic, they will usually help lift your mood, boost your immune system and provide a variety of other benefits including (and not limited to) protecting the liver and improving liver functioning, protecting the heart and improving cardiac function, protecting the brain from beta-amyloid plaques that are associated with degenerative brain disorders like Parkinson’s disease, soothing and strengthening gut tissues and functioning, and much more.

Look forward to future posts that will discuss specific adaptogens, current research, and other adaptogen-related health concepts and concerns.

 

alison

Dr. Alison Caldwell-Andrews is an expert contributor to the AdaptoGenie blog.  Dr. Caldwell-Andrews received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Kentucky and completed a post-doc in Mind-Body Medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine.  As a faculty member at Yale, she served as Director of Research for the Yale Perioperative Research Group, conducting clinical research and publishing 30 articles in peer-reviewed journals.

Her interest in mind-body healing began in the early 1990’s and she is a Certified Nutritional Herbalist.  She’s an active public speaker, author, conducts workshops, and consults in the areas of creating success behaviors, herbs and the mind-body connection, and science-based holistic treatment for psychiatric disorders.

The Joy of Jiaogulan

Deep in the mountainous regions of southern China, herbal teas made from the adaptogenic herb jiaogulan have been consumed for centuries. Known as the “immortality herb,” the southern Chinese locals have utilized the herb to promote longevity and to cultivate a healthy lifestyle going far back into the early Chinese empires. Throughout the early days of herbal Chinese medicine, the herb was ignored due to the preference of ginseng and the isolation of the southern provinces from the central cities, but during the modern era it has seen a surge of popularity because of its proven adaptogenic effects. Starting in the 1970’s, studies about jiaogulan began being published in medical and herbal medicine journals, and the positive effects proven to be associated with the herb were astonishing. Throughout multiple rigorous studies, jiaogulan has been conclusively shown to assist the body in:

jiaogulan-tea

· Regulating blood pressure – (Tanner MA, Bu X, Steimle JA, Myers PR (1999-10-03))

· Reducing unhealthy cholesterol levels – (Blumert, Michael; Jialiu Liu (2003). Jiaogulan: China’s “Immortality” Herb. Badger, CA: Torchlight Publishing. p. 42)

· Reducing stress on cardiovascular systems – (Chen, LF et al. (1990). “Comparison between the effects of gypenosieds and ginsegnosides on cardiac function and hemodynamics in dogs”. Chinese J Pharmacol Toxicol 4 (1): 17–20.)

· Maintaining optimal homeostasis – (David Winston; Steven Maimes (2007). Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief. Healing Arts Press).

With all of these proven health benefits, it appears that the stories of the “immortality herb” were not entirely inaccurate. You may not live forever with jiaogulan, but you will certainly live a longer and healthier life!

Adaptogens – Centuries Old Secrets Revealed

For too long, the secret of adaptogenic herbs has been” bottled up,” so to speak.  But the time has come for a new look and a new appreciation of the power of ancient healing.  So I, the great AdaptoGenie, have emerged from centuries of concealment carrying with me secrets from the past and timely advice for the future. (No, I’m not just blowing smoke.)

So, why now?

Because I believe adaptogens may very well hold the key to restoring health and vitality to a world that presently seems destined toward disease or fated to feel bad.  But before I tell you more about the secrets I bring, permit me to start with a little history lesson.  (When you have lived as long as I have, history is kind of your thing.)

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For millennia, man (and woman) has relied on the power of plants to heal from and ward off illness.  Traditional herbal philosophies such as ayurveda from India, traditional Chinese medicine, Tibetan medicine, Greco-Arabic medicine, kampo from Japan and Native American medicine were all based on the amazing healing effects of plants.  Many of the herbs held in highest esteem within these cultures were those with the broadest benefits.  In fact, all of these traditions speak of seemingly miraculous plants with the ability to restore physical and emotional balance and harmony.  Each of these cultures shared stories about the existence of certain plants with the astonishing ability to adjust their effects based on the individual needs of the person consuming them.

In Ayurveda, there is a class of herbs called “rasayana.”   These herbs were believed to strengthen tissues and organs throughout the body.  These herbs were said to revitalize and regenerate.  They were plants that would slow down the aging process and build up one’s resistance to disease.

chinese-herbs

Chinese herbal medicine, has for centuries, studied plants and recorded their effects on health and wellness.  The most cherished class of plants according to the Chinese philosophy is a group they labeled the Superior class.  These are herbs that can be taken in large quantities, over an extended period of time, with no risk of ill effects.  These superior plants are believed to enhance normal physiological functions rather than force a specific physical or emotional effect.

With the rise of allopathic medicine at or about the turn of the 20th century, the use of plant based remedies steadily declined and more and more health practitioners turned to synthetic drugs and surgical procedures to treat illness.  So, for more than a century now, the remarkable benefits of adaptogens have gone underutilized and unappreciated.  Well, I AdaptoGenie intend to change all of that.

stress-free

If you, or someone you know, may be interested in;

  • Increased energy
  • Stronger immunity
  • Improved performance (both athletic and sexual)
  • A more balanced mood
  • Stress management
  • Greater stamina
  • Improved digestion
  • Better sleep

then I encourage you to follow this blog and like my page @adaptogenie on Twitter or Facebook.  In the weeks to come I, and a prestigious list of guest contributors including renowned herbalists, acclaimed research scientists and knowledgeable health experts, will be sharing life changing information about adaptogens and mind body wellness. So, if you’ve been wishing for better health and vitality, I can grant that wish by giving you the power and knowledge you need to take control of your own health.

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