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Ashwagandha Reduces Cholesterol: A Herb For The Heart

Ashwagandha For Reducing High Cholesterol

Studies show that ashwagandha lowers total, LDL, and VLDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels significantly and increases HDL levels slightly. Antioxidants in the herb scavenge free radicals so that excess LDLs are not formed or oxidized inside the artery to form plaque. They also protect the liver from free radical damage, reduce cell damage and inflammation, and improve diabetes dyslipidemia symptoms.

If you are worried about your high cholesterol reading, whether due to your age or diet and lifestyle, here’s what you need to know. Cholesterol isn’t necessarily bad. It is in fact produced by the body and obtained from food to fortify cell walls and help produce digestive bile acids, vitamin D, and steroid hormones. A high total cholesterol is normal as you grow older; but a high LDL and VLDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol reading is worrying.

VLDL is very low-density lipoprotein made chiefly of triglycerides. It turns to LDL. VLDL is considered more dangerous for the heart and the liver because of its high triglyceride content.

The waxy, oily LDL cholesterols slink through the watery bloodstream and clog up the arteries, leading to atherosclerosis and subsequently heart disease. High cholesterol and triglyceride levels can also affect the liver. So it becomes vital to reduce LDL, the bad cholesterol, in addition to increasing the good HDL cholesterol, which helps remove excess LDLs.

Ashwagandha, A Herb Of Many Benefits

This is where the Ayurvedic herb ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) or Indian ginseng can help. Ayurveda recommends the use of ashwagandha as a rasayana or a rejuvenator. Modern science has established it as an adaptogen that modulates your stress response, a mood enhancer, and aphrodisiac. While it is not yet prescribed actively for cardiovascular diseases, this might soon change as studies on the subject gather steam.

Ashwagandha Lowers Bad Cholesterol By 15%

In one study on people with mildly high cholesterol, ashwagandha (3 g/d dried root powder) reduced the total cholesterol by 10%, LDL cholesterol by 6%, VLDL by 15%, and triglycerides by 15% in 30 days. It also raised the levels of the good HDL cholesterol slightly, by 4.2%, even though the test subjects had a higher calorie and fat intake.1

Ashwagandha can help people with mildly high total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. It can even lower the bad cholesterol in healthy people without any side effects.

In one study on healthy volunteers, ashwagandha (10 g/d for 10 days) reduced total cholesterol by 9.2%, LDL cholesterol by 14%, and triglycerides by 7.5% and increased the HDL cholesterol very slightly. There was a significant increase in muscle activity and reduction in body fat.2

This lowering of cholesterol has been attributed to ashwagandha withanolides which have antioxidant action. They help reduce the risk of atherosclerosis by ensuring that LDL levels do not rise due to oxidation. They also ensure that the LDLs are not themselves oxidized in the blood vessels to create plaque. The heart-protecting nature of ashwagandha is also linked to the fact that it is an adaptogenic, anti-clotting, and anti-inflammatory herb.3

Ashwagandha Improves Diabetes Symptoms

Diabetes reduces the levels of good cholesterol and simultaneously raises the levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides. This is known as diabetic dyslipidemia.4 But ashwagandha can help improve your diabetes symptoms, reducing blood glucose levels by 12%.5 It keeps up insulin production and increases insulin sensitivity, which helps the body use up glucose efficiently. This is what makes ashwagandha a one-stop solution for people with both diabetes and high cholesterol.

Ashwagandha Protects The Liver And Keeps It Functioning

The liver is the most important organ when it comes to removing excess cholesterol. The good HDL cholesterol takes the excess bad LDLs to the liver which helps flush it out of the body.

Often, high cholesterol is a sign of a malfunctioning liver, which can happen if environmental toxins or long-term drug use increases free radicals in the body and the natural antioxidant levels drop.

Ashwagandha has been seen to protect the liver from oxidative damage caused by medicines and toxins like carbendazim, a fungicide.6 7

It also restores the natural antioxidants in the body and balances the thyroid hormones so that the liver can function properly. With the liver functioning properly, the body can control the cholesterol levels better.

Ashwagandha Has No Side Effects

Another factor that works in ashwagandha’s favor is the lack of any drastic side effects unlike those caused by statins – participants administered ashwagandha to lower cholesterol showed no adverse reactions to the herb.8

Ashwagandha Dosage

The standard dosage for ashwagandha for overall health is 1–2 tsps ashwagandha leaf or root powder twice daily (3–6 g) or 600–1200 mg root or leaf extract. The recommended dosage of ashwagandha for lowering cholesterol is not yet known, but a study used 3 g per day for 30 days, and it was well tolerated. It’s best to speak to an Ayurvedic practitioner to find out what dosage would suit you. Also pair it with other natural methods of lowering high cholesterol.

While more research is under way and it’s still early days, ashwagandha does offer hope in the fight against cardiovascular diseases and cholesterol. Further extensive studies will help throw light on the role of this power-packed Ayurvedic herb in cholesterol management.

References   [ + ]

1, 8. 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.
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. 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.
4. Cholesterol Abnormalities & Diabetes. American Heart Association.
5. 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.
6. Akbarsha MA et. al. Curative property of Withania somnifera root in the context of carbendazim- induced histopathological changes in the liver and kidney of rat. Phytomedicine. 2000 Dec; 7(6):499-507
7. Sultana, Nayma, Sadia Choudhury Shimmy, M. Tanveer Hossain Parash, and Jesmine Akhtar.”Effects of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract on Some Serum Liver Marker Enzymes (AST, ALT) In Gentamicin Intoxicated Rats.” Journal of Bangladesh Society of Physiologist 7, no. 1 (2012): 1-7.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.