Ashwagandha For Reducing High Cholesterol
Excess LDL cholesterol clogs our arteries with a thick, hard deposit called plaque, leading to atherosclerosis. Ashwagandha, being anti-clotting, anti-stress, and anti-inflammatory, protects the heart and spurs muscle action sans adverse side effects. Its antioxidant flavonoids lower LDL levels, check them from rising because of oxidation, and check free radical damage that causes plaque formation.
Water and oil don’t mix. That’s why the waxy, oily compounds of cholesterol slink through our watery bloodstream and can clog our arteries. Although it’s usually cast as a villain, cholesterol has its redeeming features. Produced by the body and obtained from some of the food we eat, cholesterol fortifies cell walls, contributes to digestive bile acids in the intestine, and helps produce vitamin D and other hormones. But like too much of any good thing, the evil side of excess cholesterol rears its head as coronary heart disease and heart attacks.
What Does Cholesterol Do
High levels of LDL, the bad cholesterol, can lead to the formation of hard, thick deposits called plaque that clogs up the arteries. HDL, on the other hand, is the good cop and carries cholesterol to the liver for waste disposal. A buildup of cholesterol and the resultant plaque formation can harden and narrow your arteries and restrict blood flow, leading to a condition called atherosclerosis. The fallout is often stroke or heart attacks.
New Hope In Ashwagandha
Known as Withania somnifera or Indian winter cherry, ashwagandha is a shrub grown in India and North America. It has gained popularity lately as a stress reliever and an aphrodisiac, and may also have a role to play in lowering cholesterol levels. Studies reveal that the cardioprotective nature of ashwagandha is linked to the fact that it is an adaptogenic, antioxidant, anticoagulant, and anti-inflammatory herb. Each of these properties results in beneficial interactions with various enzymes and hormones in the body.1
How Does It Work?
While ashwagandha has definitely been established as an adaptogen and is used regularly as a mood enhancer and stress reliever, it is not yet prescribed actively for cardiovascular diseases. This might change as studies on the subject gather steam. One study tested ashwagandha’s effect on healthy people and found a significant reduction in total and LDL cholesterol, with a significant increase in muscle activity.2 The theory is that ashwagandha has flavonoids that have antioxidant action. Flavonoids are macronutrients that may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis—the buildup of fatty deposits in arteries. Its antioxidant action may also help in ensuring that LDL levels do not rise due to oxidation. Lack of antioxidants also causes free radical damage, leading to plaque formation in the arteries. The hypocholesterolemic properties of ashwagandha may help counter these.3
Hope For The Heart
While more research is under way and it’s still early days, ashwagandha does offer hope in the fight against cardiovascular diseases and cholesterol. Another factor that works in its favor is the lack of any drastic side effects—participants administered ashwagandha to lower cholesterol showed no adverse reactions to the herb.4 Further extensive studies will help throw light on the role of this power-packed ayurvedic herb in cholesterol management.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Ojha, Shreesh Kumar, and Dharamvir Singh Arya. “Withania somnifera Dunal (Ashwagandha): A promising remedy for cardiovascular diseases.” World J Med Sci 4, no. 2 (2009): 156-158.|
|2.||↑||Raut, Ashwinikumar, Nirmala Rege, Firoz Tadvi, Punita Solanki, Kirti Kene, Sudatta Shirolkar, Shefali Pandey, Rama Vaidya, and Ashok Vaidya. “Exploratory study to evaluate tolerability, safety, and activity of Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) in healthy volunteers.” Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine 3, no. 3 (2012): 111.|
|3, 4.||↑||Andallu, B., and B. Radhika. “Hypoglycemic, diuretic and hypocholesterolemic effect of winter cherry (Withania somnifera, Dunal) root.” Indian Journal of Experimental Biology 38, no. 6 (2000): 607-609.|