Ashwagandha, also known winter cherry, is a medicinal plant that is traditionally used in Ayurveda.
The small shrub-like plant originally comes from India, North Africa and in the Middle East. Due to its medicinal properties it is also grown in the USA today. Ashwagandah is available as a powder or as capsules. The content is obtained from the plant’s roots, in which also their bioactive constituents are highly concentrated.
These include alkaloids, saponins and withanolides. These substances are responsible for the effect of the plant. They are said to have a strengthening, rejuvenating and anti-inflammatory effect on the organism. In addition, research shows that winter cherry can also help with nervousness, stress, fatigue, depression and anxiety.
Effect on anxiety disorders
In an increasingly hectic and stressful time, many people are struggling with anxiety, panic attacks and other anxiety disorders. Because Ashwagandha has soothing and relaxing properties, the medicinal plant can be a natural alternative to treating these ailments.
In a study from 20019 researchers found evidence that winter cherry is a safe and effective way to relieve anxiety. In the study, anxiety patients were treated either with the medicinal herb or with a placebo for a period of twelve weeks. The patients treated with the medicinal plant showed significant improvements in their vitality, ability to concentrate and general quality of life compared to the placebo group.
Depression is often expressed by feelings of depression, listlessness, or sleep problems, as well as – in some severe cases – suicidal thoughts.
In a study form 2000 researchers found evidence that Ashwagandha has antidepressant properties. The effect was tested in rats receiving either a drug from the medicinal plant or an antidepressant called imipramine. The positive effects were nearly identical in both groups.
A later study confirmed the positive effect against depression. Ashwagandha proved to be as effective as diazepam, a well-known drug for depressive disorders.
Ashwagandha has been used for centuries in Indian medicine against stress, fatigue, lack of concentration, as well as for the general strengthening of the organism. Studies also show that the plant is also helpful in anxiety disorders and depression. It has the potential to be a true alternative to pharmaceutical antidepressants. It is time for the medicinal plant to make a name for itself in the world.