People who think that holistic medicine is bogus folk lore are simply not educated on the matter. The truth is even the big pharmaceutical companies know of its benefits. There is a branch of chemistry called Phytochemistry. This class of chemistry literally researchers complex classes of phytochemicals that plants produce in accordance to the schematics programmed into their DNA(Deoxyribonucleic acid). They are often referred to as constituents, and have their own pharmacological benefits.
While the plant contains a wide range of complex organic chemicals, the main active ingredients are thought to be specific alkaloids and steroidal lactones. These include tropine and cuscohygrine. Tropine is found in belladonna, Datura stramonium, and Hyoscyamus niger (henbane) too. Because of this, great caution should be taken when using this plant, and any of its relatives.
Anahygrine, chlorogenic acid (leaf), beta-sisterol, cysteine (berries), cuscohygrine, pseudotropine, iron, scopoletin, somniferinine, somniferiene, tropanol, withanine, withaferin A ( hints the scientific name withania ), withananine, withanolides, A-Y, Anaferine. Because these chemicals are in such a small dosage within the plant, it makes them safe. This is why free-based substances are far more dangerous.
This plant is of tremendous value in Ayurvedic medicine. It's prized for its anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, anti-stress, antioxidant, mind-boosting, immune boosting and general rejuvenating abilities. It's used for arthritis, anxiety, insomnia, tumors, tuberculosis, asthma, leukemia, bronchitis, backaches, fibromyalgia, menstrual problems, hiccups, and chronic liver disease.
Ashwaganhda is well known as an adatogen. Adaptogens are well known for their ability to assist the body in coping with stress. Sense stress is harmful to the brain and body, this may be the secret to its nootropic effects. Nootropics are plants or substances that improve mental cognition and performance. It's one of a large number of herbs used today as a natural nootropic.
Ashwagandha root, leaves, and berries are all used for different things. It's been observed that the root can be used to be fight against aging. It probably does this using its adaptogenic properties which help the body reduce stress and cortisol. The root shows promise in sexual potency ( aphrodisiac properties ), memory, mood, and fertility.
The Root is almost always made into decoctions in herbal medicine. A decoction is made by boiling the root material for an extended period of time. This helps to release plant oils and other essential phytochemicals. It's very important that the roots are crushed or powdered to help with the extraction process. Barks are made using the same preparation method. Both can be made into a tincture as well though. I'll talk more about tinctures below.
Ashwagandha leaves are generally made into a tea or tincture. They are typically combined with the root. Both seem to have the same type of properties for the most part. The chemical constituents in the leaves and roots are slightly different as seen above. Different parts of the plant contain different concentrations of certain alkaloids.
Is it possible that Ashwagandha root may contain beneficial microbes that aid the human microbiome? If you're unfamiliar with the human microbiome, then I suggest this video by the University Of California TV. The human microbiome is an ecosystem of beneficial bacteria that mostly reside in our gut. Lack of certain bacteria have been linked to certain medical conditions and ailments.
Tinctures are made by soaking the plant material in high proof liquor like everclear for a minimum of one month. From there, the resulting extract can be filtered through a cheese cloth and stored in glass tincture bottles with droppers. Ashwagandha contains a lot of phytochemical constituents. This method will ensure that you capture and preserve the most alkaloids possible.
A dosage of 300-500 mg is usually suggested. This is for root that's in a powder form. It's always better to take too little than it is to take too much. Speak with a professional health care provider before use. There are holistic practitioners in the United States that are licensed. I would suggest doing your research before trying the first one. Dosages may also vary from user to user and depend on the severity of the symoptoms, or which symoptoms you're attempting to deal with.
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