Ashwagandha (aka: Indian Ginseng, Winter Cherry) is probably one of the most famous herbs used in India. Ancient Vedics have prescribed this herb safely and effectively for various ailments for 1000's of years. Western modern medicine is just now waking up to the potential of this gentle, yet powerful plant medicine. Since Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, it has broad spectrum use, helping the body rejuvenate and balance holistically.
It is most likely the multi-directional capabilities of this herb that make it easier for people to lose weight while taking it. However, weight issues are a complex issue and a "one size all" approach doesn't always work. It is well documented that chronic stress can lead to serious illnesses, with obesity being one of them.
As well, some weight related issues are caused by excess inflammation in the body. We also need to take into consideration that poor diets can lead to low-fiber intake (which helps with elimination) and with not getting enough nutrients. This can lead to fatigue, which makes it hard to work out or find the energy to exercise.
Ashwagandha is well known for reducing the negative impact of stress and helping to increase our resilience to it. (1)
Stress raises cortisol (our stress hormone) in our body. It increases our appetite and food cravings (especially sugary, fatty foods.) Cortisol also increases neuron activity in the hypothalamus that sends out signals saying “I am hungry” even when we are not. Ashwagandha can modulate cortisol demand and normalize cortisol levels. (2) It also reduces the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which helps to regulate the stress response.
Secondly, some weight related issues are actually caused by too much inflammation in the body. The best way to reduce inflammation in the body is to eat a diet high in antioxidants, cut back on inflammatory foods (like sugar, trans fat etc.) reduce stress and exercise regularly. Ashwagandha is high in antioxidants which helps to reduce free radicals that can damage cells and tissues in the body. Some research shows that Ashwagandha might reduce our C-reactive protein (an acute inflammatory protein) levels by up to 30%. (3)
With our modern day stressors and busy schedules, eating a whole food diet rich in vitamins, minerals & phytonutrients can be difficult for some. The typical North American diet (SAD) is too high in sugar, fat and salt and too low in fiber and nutrients. Ashwagandha is high in fiber, antioxidants and non-heme iron, all which can help support our body with elimination and energy.
Ashwagandha also helps replenish energy, increase endurance (4) and reduce fatigue. This boost in energy can make it easier for us to participate in exercise programs that support weight loss.
The best way to manage weight is to eat a well balanced and nutritionally appropriate meal, exercise regularly, get good sleeps and reduce stress. No herb, adaptogen or supplement can substitute healthy lifestyle habits, and there is no magic bullet to weight loss. However, Ashwagandha may be an excellent supplement for those looking for a little weight loss support WHILE making these key changes.
Ashwagandha helps us to better manage and relieve stress.
Ashwagandha is high in antioxidants which help to reduce inflammation.
Ashwagandha is rich in iron which helps blood circulation
Ashwagandha is high in fiber which helps with elimination.
Ashwagandha helps replenish energy, increase endurance and reduce fatigue.