Ashwagandha, also known as Indian ginseng, is a plant that belongs to the Withania somnifera family. It has a lot of potential health benefits for both the mind and body. While it’s gaining popularity in the West, it has been a part of Ayurvedic medicine for over 3,000 years. Some studies suggest that ashwagandha might have properties that could be helpful for diabetes, but we need more robust data to be sure. Right now, there isn’t enough solid evidence to say that it can effectively manage diabetes. To understand its impact on blood glucose, A1C, and insulin, more research involving humans is needed.
In this article, we’ll explore how ashwagandha could influence blood glucose levels and its potential benefits for individuals dealing with diabetes.
How Can Ashwagandha Benefit People With Diabetes?
Ashwagandha does not treat diabetes, and there are effective medications for managing it. However, some studies show that ashwagandha may help control blood glucose levels. In a 2015 test-tube study, it increased insulin secretion and improved insulin sensitivity in muscle cells.
Human studies also suggest that ashwagandha can lower blood glucose. A 2020 review found that giving ashwagandha root powder to people with diabetes could reduce their blood glucose levels. Other research indicates that it might improve fasting blood glucose levels in adults dealing with stress-related health issues. While there is a growing evidence supporting ashwagandha’s potential in managing diabetes, more research is needed to fully understand its effects and mechanisms.
Ashwagandha is a small shrub with yellow-green flowers, red berries, and simple green leaves. It has a tuberous root shaped like ginger or a carrot, containing most of its health benefits. The leaves are often used in teas, while the root can be consumed in various ways. Nowadays, it’s commonly dried, powdered, and taken as a supplement. With a strong presence in Ayurveda and traditional medicine, scientific research supports its various health benefits, leading to widespread popularity.
People use ashwagandha to address different health issues, including:
- Menstrual irregularities
- Leukoderma (skin condition with white patches)
- Chronic liver disease
- Stamina and strengthening
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), diabetes is a long-term condition that occurs when the body does not make enough insulin or can not use it properly. Insulin is crucial for turning sugar into energy. There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Type 1 means the body can’t produce insulin, and people manage it with diet and insulin injections. Type 2, more common, happens when the body does not use insulin properly. It can often be controlled with diet and exercise, but some may need medication.
Possible Benefits of Ashwagandha:
Ongoing research suggests that ashwagandha may offer various benefits for both physical and mental health. People have used the plant for medicinal purposes for many years because of its nutraceutical and therapeutic potential. While more research is needed, some evidence suggests that ashwagandha may possess the following properties:
- Helps manage diabetes
- Shows potential in fighting cancer
- Has anti-inflammatory effects
- Exhibits antimicrobial properties
- May help with arthritis
- Protects the nervous system
- Supports heart health
- Offers liver protection
Is Ashwagandha Good for Blood Sugar (Diabetes)?
Ashwagandha extracts, which come from Withania somnifera, often serve as tonics for preventing and treating chronic diseases. People also use the plant to deal with health issues associated with metabolic diseases such as diabetes. While Ashwagandha does not cure diabetes, it can help manage the disease and its symptoms. Studies suggest that it can boost insulin secretion and improve insulin sensitivity in muscle cells. Ashwagandha contains various components, including amino acids and bioactive chemicals. It is commonly sold as a powder that can be mixed with water, ghee, or honey.
Research indicates that consuming Ashwagandha root powder helps control and lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. It may also be beneficial for managing fasting blood glucose levels in individuals with stress-related health issues. Ashwagandha can be a helpful addition to diabetes management, enhancing insulin secretion and sensitivity. It’s essential to understand your individual needs, and consulting with a dietitian can guide you on the recommended intake, whether with milk, as tea, or in other forms.
Risks and Concerns
Before trying any new treatment for diabetes, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional, even if it is a natural product. A review of studies on ashwagandha from 2000 to 2015 found no reported adverse effects when used to treat diabetes, indicating low risk when used correctly and under medical guidance. A 2020 study on ashwagandha’s safety suggests it is generally safe for all ages and sexes, including pregnant individuals. However, a study in Iceland notes potential liver-related risks. More research is needed to fully understand ashwagandha’s effects. While it shows promise, it is essential for people to follow their doctor’s recommendations for managing diabetes.
How to Use Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha can be prepared in various ways depending on the condition being addressed and the specific type of Withania somnifera plant. For general health benefits, a 2020 study in mice suggests that taking ashwagandha orally as a powder can be helpful for conditions like neurodegenerative disorders and cancer. Using ashwagandha as a paste may also be effective for reducing joint inflammation and other types of painful swelling. One specific type, Ashwagandha ghrita, is beneficial when combined with ghee (clarified butterfat), enhancing its antioxidant function.
For people with type 2 diabetes, using ashwagandha in the form of root and leaf extract might be an effective treatment. Ashwagandha powder could also be useful in reducing blood glucose levels and increasing urine concentrations of sodium and low-density lipoproteins.
How to Include Ashwagandha in Your Diet for Diabetes:
- Ashwagandha Tea: Steep ashwagandha roots in boiling water for 15-20 minutes, then strain. Serve with lemon and honey for a beneficial tea.
- Ashwagandha Milk: Mix ¼ to ½ tsp of ashwagandha root powder in a glass of milk. Repeat daily for 1-2 months for noticeable results.
- Ashwagandha Tablets: Take one ashwagandha tablet twice a day with warm milk or water.
Other Options for Managing Diabetes
While ashwagandha can be helpful for managing type 2 diabetes, it is just one of many treatment choices. Diabetes care emphasizes self-management and education. Controlling type 2 diabetes involves maintaining a healthy diet to lower blood glucose levels. Additional strategies for managing blood glucose include:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Regular exercise
- Quitting smoking
- Adhering to prescribed medications
Ashwagandha is a plant family known for potential health benefits, such as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been a key component of Ayurvedic medicine in India for over 3,000 years and is gaining popularity in the West.
Ashwagandha may contribute to treating various physical and mental health conditions, including diabetes. It could aid in managing type 2 diabetes by lowering blood glucose levels. However, while there’s evidence supporting its potential, more research is needed to confirm its effectiveness. It is important for people to consult with their doctor before using ashwagandha.
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