Ashwagandha For Diabetes: Lead A Healthy Life Despite Diabetes

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Ashwagandha and Diabetes

Ashwagandha, blended with herbs like shilajit or kutki, matches standard hypoglycemic drugs in lowering blood glucose and cholesterol. In type-2 diabetics, it not just hikes insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance but also helps produce insulin by checking pancreatic beta cell damage. It averts fatty liver and heart diseases by lowering triglycerides and cortisol levels, boosting metabolism, and with its anti-oxidative flavonoids.

Diabetes affects 9.3 percent of the American population, and pre-diabetes an even higher percentage. With lifestyle-related factors contributing to the progress of the disease, it becomes important to take charge and do what you can to keep the condition in check. About USD 245 billion is spent every year on diabetes-related treatment in the country. Alternative medicine and Ayurvedic remedies are one way to bring down the bill, and that too naturally.1 But how effective is a popular Ayurvedic remedy like ashwagandha (also known as Indian ginseng) and how does it get the job done?

Understanding Diabetes

Before getting into how ashwagandha can help, let’s take a look at the myriad conditions surrounding the disorder. Diabetes, simply put, is a metabolic problem in which the body is unable to regulate blood sugar properly, causing very high levels of it in the blood. However, its causes, manifestation, and symptoms can vary. For starters, diabetes could be either because insulin is not used effectively by the body or because the body simply doesn’t produce adequate quantities of insulin to help the cells absorb the glucose and burn it as an energy source.2 Diabetes doesn’t just affect your blood sugar. The condition is closely linked to dyslipidemia, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, stroke, and eye problems.3

Ashwagandha And Blood Sugar

Researchers have conducted studies that prove the efficacy of ashwagandha in helping treat hyperglycemia resulting from non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. It is believed to be a result of the positive influence this traditional remedy has on the body’s insulin sensitivity.

One study found that ashwagandha or Withania somnifera lowered elevated levels of serum insulin, blood glucose, and glycosylated hemoglobin in animal test subjects with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. It also improved insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance (when measured using an oral glucose tolerance test).4

More importantly, when similar tests were done on human subjects, results were equally heartening. One study into the hypoglycemic, hypocholesterolemic, and diuretic effects of Indian ginseng noted that, when test subjects were given ashwagandha, the decrease in the blood glucose levels was similar to that produced by an oral hypoglycemic drug.5

Your Pancreas And Withania Somnifera

Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes see progressive beta cell failure in the pancreas, which means your body can’t create enough insulin. Researchers have found that animal test subjects with type 2 diabetes who were given the remedy had pancreatic islets that were close to normal after a course of treatment. In other words, ashwagandha can protect against pancreatic beta cell damage.6

Battle Fatty Liver

Withania somnifera also helps cut down on lipid peroxidation in the body. Studies suggest that this may be a result of its ability to attack free radicals and supplement the work of antioxidants. With this action, Indian ginseng or ashwagandha can help avoid conditions that cause fatty liver.7

Control Your Cholesterol Levels Better

Diabetics are more likely to have high levels of triglycerides and LDL or bad cholesterol. Tests on the use of the extract of ashwagandha root and leaf show they have a hypolipidemic action, in addition to the hypoglycemic effect mentioned earlier. In the same study in human subjects, the use of this herbal supplement caused serum cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels to drop.8 Researchers also concluded that heart-healthy flavonoids with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits are present in greater abundance in the root than the leaf.9

Manage Stress In Type-2 Diabetes

As research uncovers more evidence, a nexus between stress and glycemic control in the body is emerging. If you let stress take control, your diabetes can run riot and your condition may head into a downward spiral. Ashwagandha, meanwhile, is renowned as a great antidote to stress and a vehicle for delivering vitality to the body. Studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in combating stress in patients with type 2 diabetes. Another reason to consider taking ashwagandha.10 Measurable indicators of stress such as high cortisol levels (seen when stress is high), as well as increased weight of the adrenal gland and spleen, were all responsive to the extract of Withania somnifera. And it could take as little as 10 days of a daily intake of this remedy to show results—testament to its relevance in treating a multitude of lifestyle-related problems.11

Ashwagandha And Your Metabolism

While ashwagandha can positively impact blood glucose levels if you are diabetic or are at risk of developing it, it can also help with metabolism. As one study on animal subjects revealed, mice with diabetes given a course of Withania somnifera benefited from the action of the herbal remedy on functions of the immune system, endocrine system, and, by extension glucose metabolism. This property of the Indian ginseng is invaluable when it comes to treating metabolic syndrome and other chronic metabolic problems.12

Using Ashwagandha In A Blend Of Herbs

Ashwagandha and its benefits seem to be more potent when it is administered along with a mix of other herbs. Specifically, the use of Indian ginseng in combination with shilajit (Asphaltum), bhringaraj (Eclipta alba), heart-leaved moonseed (Tinospora cordifolia), holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum), and kutki (Picorrhiza kurroa) was seen to decrease hyperglycemia.13

References   [ + ]

1. Statistics About Diabetes(http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/ “Statistics About Diabetes”). American Diabetes Association.
2. Causes of Diabetes. NIDDK.
3. Statistics About Diabetes. American Diabetes Association.
4. Anwer, Tarique, Manju Sharma, Krishna Kolappa Pillai, and Muzaffar Iqbal. “Effect of Withania somnifera on Insulin Sensitivity in Non‐Insulin‐Dependent Diabetes Mellitus Rats.” Basic & clinical pharmacology & toxicology 102, no. 6 (2008): 498-503.
5, 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.
6, 7. Anwer, T. A. R. I. Q. U. E., Manju Sharma, Krishna Kolappa Pillai, and Gyas Khan. “Protective effect of Withania somnifera against oxidative stress and pancreatic beta-cell damage in type 2 diabetic rats.” Acta Pol Pharm 69, no. 6 (2012): 1095-1101.
9. Udayakumar, Rajangam, Sampath Kasthurirengan, Thankaraj Salammal Mariashibu, Manoharan Rajesh, Vasudevan Ramesh Anbazhagan, Sei Chang Kim, Andy Ganapathi, and Chang Won Choi. “Hypoglycaemic and hypolipidemic effects of Withania somnifera root and leaf extracts on alloxan-induced diabetic rats.” International journal of molecular sciences 10, no. 5 (2009): 2367-2382..
10. Nayak, Shobha, Saurabha Nayak, Binod Kumar Panda, and Sambit Das. “A clinical study on management of stress in type-2 diabetes mellitus (madhumeha) with ashwagandha (withania somnifera).” Ayushdhara 2, no. 6 (2016).
11, 12. Thakur, Ajit K., Amitabha Dey, Shyam S. Chatterjee, and Vikas Kumar. “Reverse Ayurvedic pharmacology of Ashwagandha as an adaptogenic anti-diabetic plant: a pilot study.” Current Traditional Medicine 1, no. 1 (2015): 51-61.
13. Mishra, Lakshmi-Chandra, Betsy B. Singh, and Simon Dagenais. “Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Withania somnifera (ashwagandha): a review.” Alternative medicine review 5, no. 4 (2000): 334-346.