Ayurveda, with its focus on holistic cures, had always been aware of adaptogens, even before they were recognized widely, and the king of adaptogens, Ashwagandha has been linked to a plethora of health benefits, such as lowering stress and anxiety, reducing inflammation, etc.
Known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry, the ashwagandha plant(Withania somnifera)is a small shrub that is native to India. It is one of the most important herbs in Ayurveda.
And now, research has indicated that Ashwagandha may help us fight the COVID 19 virus (see point 6 below)
The benefits of Ashwagandha are plenty:
Stress and Anxiety: The ancient medicinal herb, is perhaps, well-known for its ability to reduce stress and anxiety. Several controlled clinical trials have shown that regular consumption of ashwagandha has been found to lower down or control stress and cortisol production in the body.
Fights Inflammation: It is claimed that Ashwagandha contains anti-inflammatory properties, which means it helps reduce inflammation. Studies have shown that the herb promotes the activity of natural killer cells - immune cells that defends your body against infection or injury, helping you stay healthy.
Improves Immunity: Regularly consuming Ashwagandha can also supercharge your immunity. Experts actually say that increasing the dosage of ashwagandha during a sudden spike or onset of a cold can work really well in healing the body. The herb's natural immuno-boosting properties can also help you deal with chronic stress and fatigue which can come with viral infections. It is also known as an ayurvedic vitalizer which is good for the heart and the body.
Heart health: Ashwagandha may help lower cholesterol and high blood pressure, which may improve heart health. For instance, animal studies have shown that the herb can significantly lower total cholesterol and triglyceride levels. High triglycerides are linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
Cancer: Ashwagandha may help in the prevention of certain types of cancer - such as breast, colon, lung, brain and ovarian cancer. This is due to the fact that withaferin, a bioactive compound in ashwagandha, has been shown to stop tumour cell growth in animal and test-tube studies.
Potential Anti-Viral effects: Now, research suggests that the Ayurvedic herb can be an effective therapeutic and preventive drug against COVID-19. The researchers examined the main enzyme of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus causing the disease known as COVID-19) for splitting proteins, known as the Main protease or Mpro that plays a key role in mediating viral replication. This is an attractive drug target for this virus, and as humans don’t naturally have this enzyme, compounds that target Mpro are likely to have low toxicity. They discovered that Withanone (Wi-N), a natural compound derived from Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) and Caffeic Acid Phenethyl Ester (CAPE), an active ingredient of New Zealand propolis, have the potential to interact with and block the activity of Mpro. The team described that they have also searched for the capability to these bioactives to modulate the protein on the surface of human cells, to which the SARS-CoV-2 binds and allows its entry into our cell - the transmembrane protease serine 2 (TMPRSS2), and selected Withanone. The study is currently under review and expected to be published in a near future.