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You are hereHome › Sexual Vitality and Stress Relief: Ashwagandha
Sexual Vitality and Stress Relief: Ashwagandha
Sexual Vitality and Stress Relief: Ashwagandha
Of all the medicinal plants used in India’s several millennia-old tradition of Ayurveda, ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), also known as winter cherry or Indian ginseng, is the most highly prized. Use of the ashwagandha root can be traced back as far as 3,000 years.
Ashwagandha is classified as a rasayan, a rejuvenating or life-extending agent. The rasayan are the most esteemed of Ayurveda’s herbs, as they imbue the user with life itself. The root of the plant appears in remedies for cough, rheumatism, gynecological disorders, fatigue, emaciation, inflammation, ulcers, sore eyes and diminished brain function. It is used equally by men and women, and it’s widely prescribed by physicians for low libido and to improve sexual function.
Ashwagandha’s chemical soul
India’s JSS College of Pharmacy boasts several modern laboratories in which students and senior researchers investigate the phytochemicals—the natural plant compounds—in many medicinal plants. Researchers at JSS and other centers of plant research have discovered numerous compounds in ashwagandha that possess tonic, anti-inflammatory, aphrodisiac, immune-enhancing, anxiety-relieving and nerve-sedative properties.
Ashwagandha is rich in potent alkaloids, including withamosine, visamine, cuscohygrine, withaferin A and others. It also contains a large number of compounds known as withanolides, which are novel to the plant and are typically used to standardize the potency of extracts. It’s unclear whether one or two of these compounds, or a complex synergy of all of ashwagandha’s natural constituents, are responsible for the plant’s remarkable health-imbuing versatility.
While ashwagandha has been used for centuries to promote sexual health, there are no clinical studies to date confirming its benefits for libido or performance. Still, millions of users throughout the years have relied upon this herb for its aphrodisiac and other positive effects on sexual well-being.
The Indian Materia Medica recommends use of ashwagandha for general debility, impotence, aphrodisiac purposes, brain fatigue, low sperm count, nervous exhaustion and energy restoration. For men and women of all ages, ashwagandha is believed to build strength from within. Often, this strength and vitality manifests as newfound or restored sexual vigor and function. Ancient texts reveal an Ayurvedic aphrodisiac formula in which one part ashwagandha is combined with 10 parts milk and one part ghee (clarified butter), then boiled down until only ghee remains. Consuming one heaping tablespoon of this mixture, called “ashwagandha ghrita,” both morning and evening, is said to boost libido and sexual stamina.
Ashwagandha has been studied as an adaptogen, a class of natural plant agents that enhance overall immunity and build non-specific resistance to various stressors. In animal studies, ashwagandha has demonstrated significant stress-fighting abilities. This is unquestionably key to the plant’s sex-enhancing properties. Stress compromises virtually every system of the body, with the production of stress chemicals diminishing the healthy function of organs and glands. As an adaptogen, the root helps the body better adapt to stress. It has also been shown to improve overall mental aptitude and reaction time.
A variety of ashwagandha products have made their way into the US supplement market. If you use the powdered root, the Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India recommends 3 to 6 grams daily.
Most people prefer a tablet or encapsulated supplement. Some manufacturers now offer extracts of ashwagandha standardized to a specified level of withanolides. A daily dose is approximately 250 to 500 mg of extract standardized to 4 to 5 percent withanolides.
By: Chris Kilham
Chris has trekked to over 20 countries in search of plant medicines with proven efficacy, he is a Medicine Hunter and Explorer in Residence at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His recent travels have brought him to the Himalayas, the Amazon Rainforest, the Peruvian Andes, China, Siberia, Vanuatu South Pacific, Thailand, Malaysia, and Morocco. The author of 14 books, Kilham has appeared as a guest expert on over 1500 radio programs and more than 500 TV shows worldwide including the Dr. Oz Show, ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, MSNBC, BBC, and NPR. He is a regular contributor to the Fox News Health and serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of EuroPharma, Inc.
April 12th, 2012