The Facts:Ashwagandha has been used for thousands of years for multiple health benefits. Its an ancient medicine.
Reflect On:How much would we discover if the same resources that are put into modern day medicine were put into studying nature and what substances can successfully treat multiple ailments?
I was recently introduced to the amazing benefits of ashwagandha root, also sometimes referred to as Indian Ginseng, and since then, have spent considerable time researching the health benefits of this herb. These days we often hear about “superfoods” or “miracle” foods and herbs, and it seems every supplement claims to be the best one. But can they all be the best? Ashawagandha just might be! This herb can treat a wide array of ailments and assist our bodies with many vital functions.
This herb is an adaptogen, which means
that it helps your body tackle stress by lowering cortisol levels,
managing fatigue and mental fog, and improving concentration. These are
all things that I have been struggling with, and inevitably what led me
to try this herb in the first place. Once I started taking it, I
immediately noticed a difference in how my body was handling stress.
Really, there are too many benefits of ashwagandha to name, so here are just a few of the many it offers, backed by science.
1. It Is an Ancient Medicinal Herb
Ashwagandha is a very important herb in
Ayurveda and has been used for over 3,000 years to relieve stress,
increase energy levels, and improve concentration.
2. It Can Reduce Blood Sugar Levels
Ashwagandha has been shown to lower blood sugar levels in several studies. A test tube study found that it increased insulin secretion and improved insulin sensitivity in muscle cells.
Human studies have shown its ability to reduce blood sugar levels in both diabetics and healthy individuals.
A small study —
conducted on just six people with type 2 diabetes and six with high
cholesterol — had participants supplementing with ashwagandha for 30
days, and found it lowered fasting blood sugar levels just as much as an
oral diabetes medication.
3. It Can Reduce Cortisol Levels (Stress Hormone)
Cortisol, otherwise known as the stress
hormone, is released in response to stress and low blood sugar. For many
people, cortisol levels become chronically elevated, which can lead to
both high blood sugar levels and increased fat storage in the abdomen.
Multiple studies have shown that ashwagandha can help to reduce cortisol levels.
In a controlled study
conducted on chronically stressed adults, the group given ashwagandha
saw significantly greater reductions in cortisol levels than the control
group. The group taking the highest dose of the supplement had an
average of a 30% reduction.
From my own experience, I have
already noticed this effect, and have found that I no longer get
stressed as easily or for as long.
5. It May Help Reduce Anxiety
Because ashwagandha is best known for
its ability to combat stress and bring about a calm, clear state of
mind, it also can reduce anxiety levels as well.
conducted over a 60 day period on 64 people with chronic stress, showed
that those taking ashwagandha reported an average of 69% reduction in
anxiety and insomnia, compared to only 11% in the placebo group.
And a six-week study
showed that 88% of people who took ashwagandha reported a reduction in
their anxiety levels compared to 50% from those who took a placebo.
6. It May Reduce Symptoms of Depression
More research needs to be done to provide a solid case for this claim, but preliminary studies have shown promising results.
A controlled 60-day study
conducted on adults reporting high levels of stress showed that those
who took 600 mg per day of ashwagandha reported an astounding 79%
reduction in severe depression. The placebo group reported a 10%
7. It Can Boost Testosterone and Fertility in Men
One study conducted on 75 infertile men showed an increase of sperm count and mobility on the group treated with ashwagandha.
showed that the men who received ashawagandha for stress ended up
experiencing higher levels of antioxidants and better sperm quality.
After only three months of treatment, 14% of the men’s partners had
8. It Can Improve Memory and Brain Function
on animals suggest that ashwagandha may reduce memory and brain
function issues caused by a disease or injury. This supplement promotes
antioxidant activity and protects nerve cells from free radicals.
conducted on epileptic rats found a near complete reversal of spatial
memory impairment after being given ashwagandha. They believe this was a
result from a reduction in oxidative stress.
Ashwagandha has been used traditionally
in Ayurvedic medicine to boost memory, though more research needs to be
done on humans to determine whether it does function in this capacity.
In one controlled study,
however, researchers gave healthy men a 500 mg supplement daily and
noticed significant improvements in their reaction time and task
performance compared to men who received only a placebo.
9. Stimulates the Thyroid Gland
In cases of hypothyroidism, ashwagandha can be used to stimulate the thyroid gland. One study determined that daily supplementation could increase the secretion of thyroid hormones.
10. Promotes Muscle Growth
One study showed an increase of muscle mass and a decrease in fat after just 30 days of taking between 750-1250 mg of ashwagandha.
showed that those taking the herb had significantly greater gains in
muscle strength and size. They also had more than double the reduction
in body fat compared to the placebo group. This study was relatively
small, however, only conducted on 57 young males, so more research needs
to be done.
There are many potential benefits to gain from supplementing with ashwagandha. To determine if it’s right for you, be sure to talk to your supplement expert at your local health food store, or your ayurvedic medicine practitioner, to find out the dosage best suited for you and your needs.
The Facts:A whole foods plant based diet is far different from a plant based diet containing processed vegan foods. The benefits of this diet are huge even though still misunderstood.
Reflect On:Do you believe that mock meats and processed vegan foods are healthy because they are vegan? This is not the form of plant based diet we should be after for optimal health.
Many of the important benefits of a plant-based diet – particularly for climate health and animals – are well known. Yet despite the science being very clear, there remains confusion about the impact on human health.
We have long known for example, that a
diet centred around whole plant-foods – fruits, vegetables,
whole-grains, beans, nuts and seeds – significantly reduces the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and certain cancers. In fact, a low fat plant-based diet is the only diet to have been shown to actually reverse established coronary artery disease. It has also been seen to reverse type 2 diabetes, enable effective and sustained weight loss without portion control or exercise, and arrest the progression of early stage prostate cancer.
Here are five additional benefits of a plant-based diet that may surprise you.
1. Improves mental health and wellbeing
Diet choices can have a major impact on
mood and mental health, and there is a very good reason for this. Diet
affects the health of our gut bacteria, which produce many of the
hormones active in the brain. Gut bacteria thrive on fibre, which is
only found in whole plant foods. So it is no surprise to find that a
plant-based diet can benefit mental health.
In one US study
conducted at a large insurance company, participants who were
overweight or had a history of type 2 diabetes were either prescribed a
low-fat vegan diet or asked to continue their usual diet for 18 weeks.
The results showed a significant improvement in mental health, wellbeing
and work productivity in those on the vegan diet, as well as lower
levels of depression and anxiety.
2. Reduces arthritic pain
Osteoarthritis, the painful breakdown of cartilage in the joints, appears to be an inevitable consequence of ageing. It is not reversible but it is manageable, usually with pain medication and sometimes surgery.
So what role could a plant-based diet play here? One small study
looking at the diet’s impact showed a significant improvement in
self-reported pain and functioning in people with osteoarthritis. One
reason for this could be the anti-inflammatory properties
of the micro-nutrients present in plant foods, as inflammation is the
main cause of pain in arthritis. Meat-based diets have the opposite
effect and, in general, increase the level of inflammation in the body.
3. Improves period pain in women
So if a plant-based diet can improve arthritis pain, could it also perhaps improve other types of pain? Some research suggests it could help with period pain in women.
For this study, women swapped to a low-fat vegan diet for two menstrual cycles, and then back to their usual omnivorous diet for their next two. Pain duration and intensity and pre-mentrual symptoms were recorded and levels of a hormone affecting oestrogen levels were measured.
On the low-fat vegan diet, women
reported less pain duration and intensity, shorter duration of
premenstrual symptoms and tests showed a lower level of oestrogen.
People are often surprised to hear that diet can impact hormone levels
in the body. This study shows exactly that, and how lower oestrogen
levels can benefit women’s health in a number of ways.
4. Reduces the risk of urinary tract infections
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are one of the most common causes of infection in the general population with the bacteria Escherichia coli (E coli) often being the culprit. Infection can occur because E coli from the intestine finds its way into the urinary tract. But UTIs can also be caused by E coli strains commonly found in farm animals such as chickens and pigs, so eating contaminated sources of meat can lead to infection.
Given the link between E coli
and UTIs, It might seem obvious that those on a plant-based diet who
avoid meat might have a lower risk of infection, but whether this was
the case was not known for sure until recent research came out.
of several studies shows that vegetarians have a 16% lower risk of UTIs
compared to non-vegetarians. This confirms previous data suggesting
that meat-bourne bacteria are a major contributor to the risk of UTIs.
Increasingly these food borne bacteria are displaying antibiotic
5. Saves on hospital costs
So if those following a health plant-based diet have a lower risk of ill health then surely this will save on health costs.
In a large Taiwanese study,
vegetarians were found to have a lower rate of outpatient visits, which
translated into a 13% lower outpatient expenditure and a 15% lower
total medical expenditure. So it is interesting to hypothesize the
health economic impact of a plant-based diet on the UK’s cash-strapped
National Health Service.
In 2017, spending on healthcare
in the UK totalled £197 billion – approximately £2,989 per person. If
everyone in the country shifted to a vegetarian diet, this could (using
the 15% reduction as a guide) reduce healthcare expenditure by £30
Plant-based diets then, not only have
the potential to dramatically improve human and planetary health, but
could have significant benefits for the health of the economy too.
With around 50 million people suffering
from diabetes in India, our country is rightly called the diabetes
capital of the world. The situation is alarming because the condition is
not just hitting adults but kids too.
If you are suffering
from diabetes, you know how crucial it is to be absolutely aware of not
just what you eat but of also what you drink. Many drinks are high in
carbohydrates, which can affect your blood sugar when ingested by your
body. But what should you do when you feel like sipping on something?
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends zero-calorie or low-calorie drinks to prevent the spike in blood sugar.
1. Herbal tea
Herbal tea is one of the best options for diabetics. These teas are not just healthy but tasty too. They have a subtly sweet flavour and do not raise the blood sugar level. Inflammation is said to have a role in diabetes and some herbs help reduce inflammation.
A study conducted in 2012 found that drinking coffee can help lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The risk is lowered for people who consume two-three cups of coffee every day. But it’s important to have your coffee without sugar. Adding sugar and cream can increase the calorie count, which can affect your blood sugar levels so black coffee is the best bet.
3. Vegetable Juice
While most fruit juices have too much sugar, you can try mixed vegetable juice. Blend some green leafy vegetables with a handful of berries to make the healthiest and yummiest juice. This blend will supply you with loads of vitamins and minerals, which are good for the condition.
“Previously nobody believed this could be possible.”
Every once in a while, medical researchers simply have a stroke of good luck. In this case, that stroke of good luck could have a profound effect on the medical community.
Researchers at Cardiff University were in the midst of analyzing blood from a bank when they accidentally stumbled into an “entirely new type of T-cell.” The new cell carries a “never before seen” type of receptor that acts like a grappling hook, latching on to most human cancers.
Prior therapies, called CAR-T and TCR-T, which use immune cells to
attach to HLA molecules on cancer cells’ surface, are incapable of
fighting solid tumors, the article notes. HLA molecules vary in people,
but the new therapy instead attaches to a molecule called MR1, which
does not vary in humans. This gives the therapy a chance of fighting
It also means people could share the treatment, which could allow banks of cells to be stored and offered quickly, as needed.
Human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-independent, T
cell-mediated targeting of cancer cells would allow immune destruction
of malignancies in all individuals. Here, we use genome-wide CRISPR-Cas9
screening to establish that a T cell receptor recognized and killed
most human cancer types via the monomorphic MHC class-I related protein,
MR1, while remaining inert to noncancerous cells … These finding offer
opportunities for HLA-independent, pan-cancer, pan-population
“In summary, we describe a TCR that exhibits pan-cancer
recognition via the variant MR1 molecule, and, by equipping patients
with melanoma T cells that lacked detectable cancer reactivity with the
MC.7 G5 TCR, we rendered the T-cells capable of killing autologous
What does that mean? It means it works. Additionally, T-Cells of skin
cancer patients altered by the treatment were capable of killing the
patient’s cancer cells and other patients’ cancer cells as well.
The lead author on the study, Andrew Sewell, said: “This was a
serendipitous finding, nobody knew this cell existed. Our finding raises
the prospect of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ cancer treatment, a single type
of T-cell that could be capable of destroying many different types of
cancers across the population. Previously nobody believed this could be possible.”
“This new type of T-cell therapy has enormous potential to
overcome current limitations of CAR-T, which has been struggling to
identify suitable and safe targets for more than a few cancer types,” said Professor Oliver Ottmann, Cardiff University’s Head of Haematology.
Trials on terminally ill patients could start as soon as November.
A single dose of magic mushrooms can reduce stress and anxiety in cancer patients for as long as five years.
More research continues to be published showing the potential impact
that psychedelic compounds can have on mental health treatment.
A team at New York University‘s Grossman School of Medicine recently conducted followup research
to the 2016 study which showed that cancer patients who took psilocybin
noticed “significant improvements” in their levels of stress and
anxiety. The 2016 study was actually a follow-up of groundbreaking research that began at John’s Hopkins University in 2012. All of the studies have had very similar results.
In the 2016 study, patients taking psilocybin along with therapy noticed “immediate,
substantial, and sustained improvements in anxiety and depression and
led to decreases in cancer-related demoralisation and hopelessness,
improved spiritual wellbeing, and increased quality of life.”
In the newest study, researchers found that test subjects later said
that the experience led them to make positive changes in their lives. The research is published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.
According to the study:
“Participants overwhelmingly (71 to 100 per cent)
attributed positive life changes to the psilocybin-assisted therapy
experience and rated it among the most personally meaningful and
spiritually significant experiences of their lives.”
Researchers are still unclear about how this process works
mechanically in the brain, but there are theories that psilocybin
relaxes areas of the brain associated with rumination, worry, and rigid thinking.
Gabby Agin-Liebes, a lead author of the most recent study, explained:
“These results may shed light on how the positive
effects of a single dose of psilocybin persist for so long. The drug
seems to facilitate a deep, meaningful experience that stays with a
person and can fundamentally change his or her mindset and outlook.”
With so many new studies showing the potential of these compounds for
therapeutic use, steps are being made to bring legal psychedelic
treatments to the market.
It was announced last year that a startup called Compass Pathways
had received approval from the Food and Drug Administration to develop
treatments for depression and possibly even pharmaceuticals containing
psilocybin, the active ingredient in psychedelic “magic mushrooms.”
Compass Pathways launched in the UK in 2016 thanks to funding from PayPal founder Peter Thiel. While the company is just now receiving approval to run trials in the U.S., they were already approved in Canada, the Netherlands, and at their base of operations in the UK.