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Ashwagandha, also known by its botanical name Withania somnifera, is a small woody plant with yellow flowers native to India and North Africa, belonging to the Solanaceae or nightshade family. It’s classified as an adaptogen, as it’s believed to help your body manage stress better
It is used as a herb in Ayurvedic medicine, mainly in patients with irritable bowel syndrome.
The main chemical constituents of the plant are alkaloids. Ashwagandha shows anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and immunomodulating activities, extracts of the roots activate the production of NO synthase by acting in the macrophages.
Ashwagandha extract– showed inhibition of lipid peroxidation, and H2O2 scavenging and histological improvement in induced colitis in animals.
My Experience with Ashwagandha
In my experience, taking Ashwagandha has had direct positive effects on Crohn’s disease symptoms. After taking for three weeks, while not changing any other dietary factors or medication, I noticed a reduction in frequency of diarrhea, and some reduced pain levels.
Another big benefit for me was a very noticeable increase in energy levels. One of the common symptoms of IBD and IBS is reduced energy levels an tiredness/exhaustion, and this has certainly been the case for me, so anything that improves this situation is certainly worthwhile.
I also notice an increase in stress tolerance, reduction in anxiety and also some increase in muscle mass while taking Ashwagandha.
The small down side, I have noticed some muscle stiffness and pain, particularly in the neck region, that I think could potentially been due to taking Ashwagandha, but this has been far outweighed by the reduction in Crohn’s symptoms, and increases in energy levels for me.
Though Ashwagandha is a naturally occurring compound, taking it involves risks.
Ashwagandha may cause the immune system to become more active, and therefore could potentially increase the symptoms of auto-immune diseases.
Ashwagandha is possibly safe when taken for up to 3 months. The long-term safety of ashwagandha is not known. Large doses of ashwagandha might cause stomach upset, diarrhea, and vomiting. Rarely, liver problems might occur.