Nutritional Medicine , Separating Fact from Fiction
Ashwagandha is an herb frequently found in supplemental mixtures designed to, in some way, enhance energy levels. Another term used for it is “adaptogenic” meaning it helps the body resist physiological and psychological stress. Ashwagandha is not new to the culinary, healing, or longevity arenas. The small, evergreen-like shrub bears green flowers that turn into fruits and used in cooking/medicinal preparations since at least the 19th century throughout India, the Middle East and even Africa. It is thought that Indian herbalists practicing Ayurvedic medicine heralded the plant into America.
We know that the active components at work here are alkaloid compounds and steroidal lactones that together make withanolides and scientific studies have not been able to replicate positive effects to any scientific degree.
Purported uses for Ashwagandha are, as mentioned before, energy enhancement, increased stamina, anxiety, ADHD, dizziness, Type 2 Diabetes, high cholesterol, longevity, osteoarthritis, Parkinson’s disease, among others. Probably the most supported uses for this herb are for longevity, mental clarity, stamina and energy enhancement.
Is it safe? Most experts believe that Ashwagandha is safe in recommended doses in healthy individuals who are not breastfeeding or pregnant. Long-term use, however, have posed serious questions about safety. Apparent safe dosage is up to 3 g per day according to some studies. It is NOT on the GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list put out by the U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA).
There have been reported side effects including, but not limited to, scratching, a lowering of blood sugar, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, a decrease in libido, antidepressant-like effects, respiratory depression or, in other words, no worse than any medication the doctor might prescribe. It is a supplement, but supplements have side effects just like medications, another reason individuals should seek counsel from a credentialed professional in the nutritional sciences before using supplements.
Ashwagandha has many drug-nutrient interactions to be on the look for:
· Amphetamines such as ephedrine, epinephrine, increasing their effects
· Anti-coagulants, like Warfarin or Coumadin, reduces effectiveness
· Antidiabetic agents
· And a number of others that this paper will not go into.
Application of research statement: As with most nutritional research goes, further study is indicated. Preliminary animal and human studies have shown Ashwagandha is safe in the doses discussed if individuals are properly assessed and all other medications, supplements and medical conditions taken into a holistic consideration.