Category: Mental Health

Top 7 Health Benefits Of Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera)

Ashwagandha is very well known in the world of medicine. It is also called Withania Somnifera or Indian ginseng. This herb has been used for years in Ayurveda which is an ancient science of medicine, as well as Chinese medicine.

Withania Somnifera is a perennial shrub from the nightshade or Solanaceae family. The herbal root has been traditionally used as a tonic as well as a sedative but recent studies shows that the leaf extract contains a compound which is known as Withanolides which have been found to carry regenerative properties on brain-cell synapses in mice and in human cell lines.Withania Somnifera can easily be found in India (especially Madhya Pradesh), Bangla Desh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and in some parts of northern Africa.

  • Height: It can grow beyond 170 cm but is usually 30-60 cm.
  • Shape: It has a central stem and is a stout and upright shrub.
  • Branches: Star-shaped branching and all the branches are covered in fine hairs.
  • Leaves: Ovate and alternate, up to 5cm wide and up to 10cm long.
  • Flowers: Green outer-covering layer along with yellow petals on the inner side.
  • Fruit: Red berries enclosed in papery protective covering (calyx).
  • Roots: Long and fleshy tubers.

Ashwagandha has huge range of health benefits. It has immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-stress, sleep-inducing and anticonvulsant properties. The known biologically active components in Ashwagandha are alkaloids, saponins, iron steroidal lactones and choline. It also rich in fatty acids which are of 18 different types and several phytosterols and polyphenols.

The roots, berries and leaves of ashwagandha are being used from several years for medicinal purpose. Ashwagandha is also available in the powdered form or in the form of capsules.

1) Relieves Stress

  • According to a study which was carried out in 2012, it is proved that ashwagandha is highly beneficial in reducing stress and its side effects. People suffering from stress disorders who took ashwagandha had lower levels of stress hormones [cortisol].
  • Ashwagandha give wonderful results in both acute as well as chronic stress. It acts as a tonic and helps your body to adapt to stressful conditions and strengthens the nervous system as well as the adrenals. It refreshes the body as well as mind and also improves the quality of sleep. It is believed that it is doing wonders nowadays.

benefits-of-ashwagandha

2) Stimulates Brain Power

  • According to a study carried out in 2012, it is proved that ashwagandha is effective in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. There are several chemicals present in ashwagandha which help in improving the production of the main transmitter of neural signals i.e., acetylcholine. This in turn improves the cognitive abilities which includes concentration, thinking and memory.
  • It helps in stimulating the growth of parts of the neural cells which are already damaged due to some reasons and thus helps in reducing the risk of age-related mental illnesses like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
  • Start taking an ashwagandha supplement so as to protect your brain from degeneration but only after consulting your doctor. Do not take it without consulting a doctor.

3) Protects Against Cancer

  • According to some studies, it is proved that ashwagandha helps in prevention of cancer. It also helps in preventing or stopping the growth of cancer. It is high in antioxidants. Its anticancer properties helps in treating almost all types of cancer, it acts by restricting the growth of cancer cells which make it beneficial for the cancer treatment.
  • Its components are doing wonders in preventing the growth of many types of cancer cells like colon, breast, leukemia, melanoma, lung, prostate and sarcoma.
  • Along with this, it also enhances the effects of chemotherapy and radiations against cancer cells. It also protects the healthy cells against damage from several cancer therapies.

4) Improves Immunity

  • Another wonderful benefit of ashwagandha is that it helps in boosting the immune system. It helps in increasing the white blood cell production, as it is rich in antioxidants. It also improves the functioning of the immune system so helps in the treatment of several autoimmune disorders.
  • It gives better overall health and decreases the chances of getting sick more frequently. Plus, when you feel weak and sick, ashwagandha can give you more energy and helps in recovery after illness.
  • Intake of at least 1 cup of ashwagandha tea regularly will keep your immune system strong.
  • Ashwagandha tea is not recommended to patients who are suffering from high blood pressure.

5) Fights Depression

  • Its antidepressant properties make it wonderful for the treatment of depression and stress related disorders, Ashwagandha has stress relieving properties which make it more effective to treat anxiety and depression.
  • According to a study carried out by researchers at the Institute of Medical Sciences at Banaras Hindu University in India, it is found that ashwagandha stabilizes the moods in patients with behavioral disturbances and anxiety.
  • Ashwagandha does not leads to drowsiness, which is a major adverse effect of many other prescribed medicines. It should be taken through orally but under the guidance of a doctor so as to control depression and anxiety.

6) Works as a Natural Aphrodisiac

  • Ashwagandha acts as a powerful aphrodisiac. According to a study carried out in 2013, it is believed that ashwagandha has spermatogenic properties and it can increase sperm count along with semen volume and sperm motility. Ashwagandha can be also taken in the form of capsules.
  • Add half teaspoon of ashwagandha powder into a glass of warm milk and drink it two times a day.
  • Another option, take 300-500 mg capsules, twice daily for at least about a month.

7) Treats Arthritis

  • Ashwagandha is also very effective in treating rheumatism and osteoarthritis due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Its anti-inflammatory properties are because of the alkaloids, saponins and steroidal lactones present in the ashwagandha.
  • It is beneficial in inflammation as well as pain in the joints and especially morning joint stiffness. It also promotes energy, strength and vitality that are essential factors so as to lead a normal life when suffering from health problems especially like arthritis.

Five Yoga Poses for Healthy Body and Mind

Just like Ayurveda, yoga too is a pride of India. It has origin from the divine land, India. Today, even the modern world has accepted and adapted Yoga as one of the effective healing modalities. It is basically a science of self-realisation.

Yoga is a big science by itself and a trend of the modern-day world. It is a comprehensive method of psycho-somatic healing, an answer for many physical and mental problems and a unique way of balancing and maintaining a rhythm between body and mind.

The practices of yoga were elaborated and given a philosophical foundation of Yoga Sutra of the Indian scholar Patanjali, who is traditionally regarded as the ‘founder of Yoga’. The period of this work dates back to 3rd century B.C.

Five Yoga Poses for Healthy Body and Mind

Om Mantra:

om mantra

  • The practice of chanting “OM” cures high blood pressure, migraine, tension, constipation, heart attack and all digestion problems. The chanting of Om Mantra provides internal relaxation as well. Chanting of Om is considered as a powerful yogic exercise. It relaxes mind as well as body. The problem of stammering is also cured by chanting Om Mantra. Chanting of Om Mantra purifies the environment and creates positive vibrations so it relaxes the mind as well.
  • For practising Om Mantra, take a position in Padamasana and close your eyes and bring both hands in Gyan Mudra
  • Touch the tip of the thumb with the tip of index finger.
  • Back and neck should be kept straight.
  • Keep all the muscles of the relaxed.
  • Body should be in a still position
  • Take deep breath and without giving a pause, say ‘Om’.
  • First, practice it for 5 minutes and then increase it from 25 minutes.

Surya Namaskar:

surya

  • Surya Namaskar is one of the most complete methods to bring about health and vigour while at the same time preparing an adept for the deeper processes of yoga. This yogic exercise is based on the 3 elements: rhythm, energy and form. This yogic exercise thus becomes strong, supple, agile and healthy. Some experts, including Ayurvedic physicians, consider surya namaskar as the crest of jewel exercises. This yogic exercise is the best way to relax and rejuvenate the body and also help to tide over a hectic day with ease.

The 12 poses of Surya Namsakar or Sun Salutation include:

  • Pranamasana
  • Hastauttanasana
  • Hasta Padasana
  • Ashwa Sanchalanasana
  • Dandasana
  • Ashtanga Namaskara
  • Bhujangasana
  • Parvatasana
  • Ashwa Sanchalasana
  • Hasta Padamasana
  • Hastauttanasana
  • Pranama asana

Dhanurasana (Bow pose):

bow pose

  • In Ayurveda, it is said that abdominal problems are the root cause of all the problems. So, it is necessary to keep the stomach healthy. This asana provides relief from all the abdominal problems and therefor, helpful in keeping body and mind healthy. This asana helps to improve digestion by stimulating gastric secretions. By doing this asana, the muscles of the vital organ liver are massaged. This asana is also recommended for the management of diabetes, back pain and neck pain.

Steps of Dhanurasana are:

  • Start the asana by lying flat on the stomach with legs and feet together and the arms and hands beside the body.
  • Bend the knees and bring heels close to the buttocks.
  • Place the chin on the floor and clasp the hand around the ankles.
  • Now, take a deep breath and raise the head trunk and legs above the ground in order to lift legs and pull hands and legs in the opposite direction.
  • Support the entire body on the floor. Hold the position for as long on the floor.
  • The last step of this asana is holding the position for as long as is comfortable and then slowly relax the leg muscles, lower the legs, chest and head to the starting position. Do it minimum 3 times daily.

Halasana:

Halasana

  • Halasana is an inversion asana and it is important for the beginner to do sufficient warm up poses before attempting this pose. This pose gives flexibility to the spine as well as strengthens the back muscles, improves digestion and appetite, effective in weight loss, strengthens the abdominal muscles, helps to reduce stress, normalises the blood-glucose level and stimulates the internal organs.

Steps of Halasana are

  • Start the asana by lying on the back with the arm besides and palm downwards.
  • As you inhale, use the abdominal muscles to lift the feet off the floor, raising the legs vertically at a 90 -degree angle.
  • Continue to breathe normally and supporting the hips and back with the hands, lift them off the ground.
  • Allow the legs to sweep in a 180-degree angle over the head until the toes touch the floor.
  • The back should be perpendicular to the floor. This may be difficult initially, but make an attempt after a few seconds.
  • Do this slowly and gently but it must be ensured that there should be no strain on neck or you may push it into the ground.
  • Hold this pose and let the body relax more and more with each steady breath.

Shavasana(Corpse pose):

Corpse pose

  • This yoga pose is practiced after an active yoga session. It provides deep healing and completely relaxes the body. This pose can also be practiced whenever a person is extremely tired and need to get back to work quickly as it is refreshing and rejuvenating. The body and mind relax which in turn helps in repairing the cells and tissues and releases stress. The body relaxes and calms down, the blood pressure also drops and this helps in relaxing heart also. As a result, anxiety is in control.

Steps of Shavasana are:

  • Lie down on the back and keep the legs straight on the floor, with both the feet apart as shoulder width.
  • Toes should be turned outward as possible and let the fingers curl up slightly.
  • The head and spine should be in a straight line.
  • Relax the whole body and stop all the physical movements.
  • Close the eyes gently.
  • Now, mentally watch the breathing and allow it to become rhythmic and relaxed.
  • Duration should be minimum 5 minutes.

So, here are these effective Five Yoga Poses for a healthy body and mind, practice them and stay fit!!