What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a medicinal plant of the Indian medicine Ayurveda. Ashwagandha is also known as sleeping berry, Indian ginseng or winter cherry. It is a plant of the nightshade family (Solanaceae).
Ashwagandha is also called 'Indian Ginseng', which is used in India in the same way that ginseng is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a wide range of diseases in humans.
In Ayurveda, Ashwagandha is considered a 'Rasayana' herb, a remedy that works in a non-specific and comprehensive manner and promotes health and longevity.
It is also considered an 'adaptogen', a natural remedy that normalises physiological functions caused by chronic stress by balancing out an imbalance in the neuroendocrine and immune systems.
Although it has been used as a broad-spectrum remedy in India for centuries and is known as the queen of Ayurveda, Ashwagandha has only been intensively studied under laboratory conditions for a few decades.
If you want to increase your energy, look younger and stay healthy, Ashwagandha could be the medicinal plant you are looking for. As you will see shortly, the health benefits of Ashwagandha are impressive.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic medicinal plant popular in ayurvedic medicine, which has shown very good results in lowering cholesterol and restoring the balance of thyroid hormones.
In India, Ashwagandha is also used to strengthen the immune system after illness.
Ashwagandha is also called Indian ginseng because of its properties to increase endurance and reduce stress extremely effectively.
There are more than 200 studies on the effects of Ashwagandha:
- Improve thyroid function
- Treatment of adrenal fatigue
- Relieve anxiety and depression
- Combat symptoms of stress
- Increase endurance and resilience
- Cancer prevention and treatment
- Reduction of brain cell degeneration
- Stabilisation of blood sugar
- Lowering cholesterol
Here we will discuss Ashwagandha's benefits in terms of healing the thyroid and adrenal glands, improving mood and energy levels, preventing cancer, and promoting brain health.
Ashwagandha and the thyroid glands
Ashwagandha is a superstar in improving thyroid health. Scientists don't know exactly how adaptogens work, but we do know that they can be extremely effective in creating hormonal balance.
One of the most incredible aspects of an adaptogenic medicinal plant like Ashwagandha is that it can help people with hyperthyroidism. It has also been shown to help both people with thyroid inflammation diagnosed with Hashimoto and people with Graves' disease, an overactive thyroid.
Adaptogenic herbs work with the body to restore balance, whether low or high.
Animal studies have shown that Ashwagandha restores the balance of thyroid hormones. Ashwagandha was administered to mice in a 20-day study and their T3 and T4 levels analysed along with lipid peroxidation (protection by antioxidants). Significant increases in T4 serum have been found, indicating that this medicinal plant can help underactive thyroid.
Ashwagandha could also improve thyroid function by greatly reducing lipid peroxidation by eliminating free radicals that cause cell damage. These results demonstrate that Ashwagandha can be useful in treating hypothyroidism.
There are currently millions of people with thyroid problems (many do not even know) and Ashwagandha could be the solution they are looking for.
Ashwagandha and the revitalisation of the adrenal glands
Ashwagandha has also been shown to be effective in adrenal function by helping adrenal fatigue and chronic stress.
The adrenal glands are endocrine glands that are responsible for the release of hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) in response to stress on the body.
Overuse of the adrenal glands due to excessive emotional, physical, and mental stress can lead to a condition known as adrenal fatigue. As can be seen in the table below, adrenal fatigue can also affect other hormones including progesterone, which can lead to infertility and low DHEA, which in turn can accelerate the ageing process.
Medical studies have shown that Ashwagandha improves cortisol levels, increases insulin sensitivity and provides a natural hormonal balance. One study reported the case of a 57-year-old woman with atypical adrenal hyperplasia. She was treated with Ashwagandha for six months, and after that she showed improvements in four adrenal hormone markers including KortiKosteron and 11-deoxycortisol, which saw a 69 percent and 55 percent decrease, respectively - a significant improvement! This hormonal improvement also occurred with a noticeable decrease in hair loss.
Ashwagandha is an antioxidant
Ashwagandha (Glycowithanolides) is an effective antioxidant. Ashwagandha repairs oxidative damage caused by streptozotocin in rats.
Ashwagandha's chemo-protective effect may be due to its antioxidant and detoxifying properties.
Ashwagandha plays an antioxidant role in alleviating kidney damage caused by oxidative stress.
When administered once a day for 21 days, Ashwagandha increased superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase, and glutathione peroxidase in rats.
Ashwagandha is anti-inflammatory
It was found that Ashwagandha stimulates the activity of the immune system and increases the cell activity of the natural killer cells in mice.
Ashwagandha extract supported the proliferation of lymphocytes, bone marrow cells, and thyme cells in mice.
Ashwagandha increased the Th1 cytokines and the stress-related reduced T cell population in chronically challenged mice.
Ashwagandha suppressed myeloid suppressor cells (MDSC) and tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs).
Ashwagandha extract increased macrophage activity.
Ashwagandha against anxiety and stress
There is now clear evidence that Ashwagandha can help treat anxiety and depression. One study even showed that the effects were comparable to the common pharmaceutical agents lorazepam and imipramine, but without their side effects.
In a 12-week control study, 87 participants with anxiety were given 300 mg of Ashwagandha extract or two placebos twice a day. The Ashwagandha treatment group experienced significantly greater improvements in anxiety, but also in concentration, as well as less stress and less fatigue than the placebo group.
Another key benefit of Ashwagandha is the lack of unwanted reactions when ingested compared to antidepressants and anxiety medications that can have bad side effects.
Ashwagandha effect in humans
Ashwagandha extract may be helpful in the psychiatric treatment of anxiety disorders.
Highly concentrated Ashwagandha extract increased the resistance to stress in a safe and effective manner and thus brought about an improved self-assessment of the quality of life in people.
Ashwagandha caused a significant decrease in cortisol levels and a reduction in stress compared to a placebo. Cortisol, the body's stress hormone, contributes to muscle atrophy and weakness, wrinkles and cognitive disorders.
Ashwagandha extract improved the audio-verbal working memory in people with bipolar disorder.
Ashwagandha's effect in animals
Ashwagandha is a mood stabiliser for anxiety, depression and behaviour in rats caused by social isolation.
Ashwagandha extract has been used successfully in the treatment of OCD in mice.
Ashwagandha has been shown to be effective in treating insomnia and the associated oxidative stress in mice.
Ashwagandha had a significant stress-relieving effect in experiments with rats and the treated animals showed an improved stress tolerance.
Ashwagandha extract reduced chronic, stress-related gastric ulcers more successfully than ranitidine, increased sex drive and cognitive impairments (rat experiments).
Ashwagandha doubled swimming performance in rats and prevented the decrease in adrenal cortisol and ascorbic acid (when exposed to swimming).
Ashwagandha has GABA mimetic properties.
Ashwagandha has a sleep-promoting effect through a GABAergic mechanism.
Ashwagandha supports brain function
Ashwagandha belongs to a subset of the 'Rasayanas' (or Elixir) known as 'Medhya Rasayanas' (Medhya refers to the mental and mental or intellectual ability).
Ashwagandha has a cognitive effect. It is helpful in children with memory loss and prevents memory loss in the elderly.
Relaxation caused by the anti-stress effects of Ashwagandha also improves long-term visual memory.
Ashwagandha fights infections
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera glycoprotein) has been shown to be effective against most of the phytopathogenic fungi and bacteria tested.
- Ashwagandha inhibited fungal growth by suppressing spore formation and hyphae growth. Ashwagandha showed effective antifungal activities in Aspergillus flavus, Fusarium oxysporum and Fusarium verticilloides.
- Ashwagandha is widely used to treat tuberculosis.
Ashwagandha showed antibacterial effects against Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. michiganensis.
Ashwagandha fought Staphylococcus aureus (SA) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
Ashwagandha extract inhibited the growth of the gram-negative Neisseria gonorrhoea.
Oral Ashwagandha extract successfully cured salmonella infections in mice.
- Ashwagandha was shown to be effective in patients with acute viral hepatitis.
Ashwagandha was effective in cell cultures of the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1).
Ashwagandha extract showed antiviral properties in cell cultures of infectious bursitis.
Ashwagandha could help alleviate the neurocognitive disorders associated with HIV-1.
- Ashwagandha helps treat leishmaniasis.
Ashwagandha extract is used to treat malaria.
Ashwagandha showed an anti-parasitic effect in malaria-infected rodents.
Ashwagandha and cancer
Studies have shown that Ashwagandha extract has promising effects in the prevention and treatment of cancer. In certain studies, scientists found that Ashwagandha extract has an extremely effective anti-tumor effect.
The extract helps suppress the spread of cancer cells, especially breast, lung, stomach, and colon cancer cells, which are among the most common cancers worldwide.
Ashwagandha is believed to prevent cancer cells from growing, primarily through its ability to boost the immune system and its antioxidant properties. Ashwagandha supplements correlate with an increase in white blood cells, which in turn is a sign that the immune system is better able to protect the body from diseases and harmful influences.
Another form of Ashwagandha cancer prevention is to prevent the blood vessels around the cancer cells from supporting the growth of tumors.
In addition to the ability to inhibit cancer cell growth, studies have shown that Ashwagandha, in conjunction with chemotherapy, can be very helpful in treating existing cancer.
Taking the extract appears to ensure that chemotherapy does not suppress the immune system. Ashawagandha can counteract one of the biggest problems in chemotherapy, the decrease in white blood cells, which leads to a much higher risk of infection in cancer patients.
Many cancer experts are now recommending Ashwagandha extract, both to prevent cancer and to support traditional cancer treatments. In fact, studies have shown that in some patients, cancer symptoms even disappeared if they were given Ashwagandha instead of other treatments.
Cancer-inhibiting effect of Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha works against cancer-related fatigue and also improves the quality of life.
Ashwagandha is an effective and relatively safe radio sensitiser or chemotherapeutic agent.
Ashwagandha increases the number of white blood cells (WBC) and their function, which is reduced in the chemotherapeutic treatment of cancer.
Ashwagandha caused an increase in the number of white blood cells (WBC) in paclitaxel-induced neutropenia (abnormally low concentration of neutrophils) during chemotherapy.
- Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) inhibited the growth and cell migration of breast cancer cells in individuals.
Ashwagandha extract caused a significant reduction in the number of cell divisions in breast cancer.
Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) inhibited the activation of STAT3 in human breast cancer cells.
- Ashwagandha (Withaferin-A) is effective for colorectal cancer (suppresses Notch-1).
Ashwagandha leaf alcohol extract showed an inhibition of colon cancer cell line (HCT-15) growth by 98 percent.
- Ashwagandha leaves (Withaferin A, Withanon, Withanolide A) inhibit growth and differentiation in brain cells and help in the treatment of glioblastoma.
Ashwagandha has an anti-cancer effect on neuroblastoma cells (IMR-32).
- The Ashwagandha root (Withanolide sulphoxide) prevents the growth of gastric cancer cell lines in humans.
- Ashwagandha has an anti-cancer effect on prostate cancer cell lines.
Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) suppresses tumor proteasomes in human prostate cancer cell cultures.
- Ashwagandha has been shown to be effective against urethane-induced lung adenoma in mice.
Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) prevented growth and cytotoxic activity in human lung cancer cell lines (NCI-H460).
- Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) prevented the growth of human kidney cancer cell lines.
- Ashwagandha caused melanomeric cell death in humans (through the formation of ROS).
Ashwagandha was effective in treating head and neck human squamous cell carcinoma.
A long-term treatment with Ashwagandha controlled the dermatofibrosarcoma.
Ashwagandha has been shown to be effective in preventing skin cancer in animals exposed to UVB radiation.
Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) prevented cancer gene activation and mitochondrial dysfunction in epidermal cells.
- Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) showed anti-cancer effects in pancreatic cell lines (the target is Hsp 90).
- Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) is effective in the treatment and prevention of cervical cancer.
Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) reduced the effectiveness of HPV cancer genes, which resulted in the death of cervical cancer cells.
- Ashwagandha has a protective effect against Dalton's Ascitic Lymphoma (DAL).
Ashwagandha has an anti-cancer effect on Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cell carcinoma.
Ashwagandha decreases Nf-KB, suppresses TNF and potentiates apoptosis in cancer cell lines.
Ashwagandha slows tumor growth and extends survival.
Ashwagandha stimulates the formation of cytotoxic T lymphocytes to inhibit tumor growth.
Ashwagandha leaf extract (Withanone) causes the selective killing of cancer cells through the induction of ROS (reactive oxygen species).
Ashwagandha is neuroprotective
Ashwagandha (component metabolites) promotes nerve growth when taken over seven days.
Ashwagandha promotes the formation of dendrites.
Ashwagandha is also effective in neuromuscular coordination.
Ashwagandha plays a potential neuroprotective role in acute stress in rats.
Ashwagandha leaf extract protects human neuroblastoma cells from glutamate-induced excitotoxicity.
Ashwagandha root could help in the treatment of drug-induced dyskinesia (abnormal or disturbed movement).
Ashwagandha caused neurite enlargement in normal and damaged cortical nerve cells.
Ashwagandha was effective in scopolamine-induced amnesia in experiments with mice and with brain cell cultures.
Ashwagandha has been shown to be useful in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's, Huntington's and Alzheimer's.
There are several studies showing that Ashwagandha prevents, reverses and / or eliminates neurite atrophy and synapse loss.
Ashwagandha and Alzheimer's
Ashwagandha reversed behavioural deficits and the pathology seen in trials with Alzheimer's disease.
Ashwagandha (Withanoside IV), if taken orally, may reduce neuronal dysfunction.
Ashwagandha showed a significant reversal of the cognitive impairment induced by ibotenic acid in studies of Alzheimer's disease.
Ashwagandha and Parkinson
Ashwagandha improves catecholamines, oxidative damage and physiological abnormalities that have been observed in studies of Parkinson's disease in mice.
The Ashwagandha extract improved behaviour, anatomical and biochemical malformations in mice with Parkinson's.
Ashwagandha and Huntington's Chorea
Ashwagandha has a neuroprotective effect on behaviour, biochemical and mitochondrial dysfunction in an animal experiment with Huntington's disease.
Ashwagandha and schizophrenia
Ashwagandha is effective in schizophrenic patients.
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD)
A herbal combination with Ashwagandha can cause attention and impulse control in children with ADHD. The effect of pure ashwagandha is still unclear.
Ashwagandha components have been shown to have a beneficial 'strengthening' effect on the heart.
Ashwagandha treatment has been shown to increase heart rate and promote contractility and relaxation.
Ashwagandha lowers blood pressure (by automatically blocking the ganglia).
Ashwagandha has a profound effect in lowering cholesterol and prevents hardening of the arteries.
Ashwagandha powder shows a significant decrease in triglycerides (31.25% to 44.85%) when taking 0.75 to 1.5 grams per day in high cholesterol rats.
Various experiments have shown that Ashwagandha protects the heart from stress and damage.
- Ashwagandha improved cardiorespiratory endurance in top athletes.
- Ashwagandha protected against oxidative damage from isoprotenalin-induced (ISO) heart attacks in rats.
- Ashwagandha extract protects the heart from the toxicity caused by doxorubicin.
- Ashwagandha has a protective effect on ischemic strokes in rats.
- Ashwagandha has been shown to be protective in isoprotenaline-induced strokes in rats.
- The highest effectiveness was shown in rats in the functional restoration of the heart with a dose of 50 mg/kg.
- Ashwagandha milk supplements are recommended in the treatment of stress-oriented hypertension.
Ashwagandha is an anti-diabetic
Ashwagandha improves blood and urine glucose, glycohemoglobin (HbA1C) and liver enzymes in rats with diabetes.
Ashwagandha root can cause low blood sugar in people with type II diabetes.
Ashwagandha reduces blood sugar levels in alloxan-induced diabetes in rats.
Ashwagandha normalises high blood sugar levels in rats with type II diabetes (by improving insulin sensitivity).
Ashwagandha together with the 'Shilajit' extract significantly reduced the symptoms associated with diabetes, the average blood sugar levels during fasting and the cholesterol level in test subjects.
Ashwagandha lowers blood sugar levels in rats with type II diabetes, prevents excessive insulin levels and improves glucose tolerance.
Ashwagandha improved diabetes-induced testicular dysfunction in prepubertal rats.
Ashwagandha was able to prevent glycation-induced diabetes.
Ashwagandha use for two months was helpful in treating painful, diabetic neuropathy in rats.
Ashwagandha has been shown to be effective in neutralising free radicals and helps improve the antioxidant status in rats with type II diabetes.
Withaferin A is partially responsible for Ashwagandha's anti-diabetic activity.
Ashwagandha reduces pain and fever
Ashwagandha is a pain reliever that has a calming effect on the nervous system during pain reactions.
Ashwagandha (1000 mg/kg/oral) caused significant pain relief when tested with rats on a hot plate.
Ashwagandha also has an antipyretic effect.
Ashwagandha for women
Ashwagandha relieves symptoms of menopause. It stimulates the hormone glands and supports the regulation of hormone release during the menopause.
Ashwagandha is also effective in reducing symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, and anxiety.
Ashwagandha extract stimulates thyroid activity and promotes anti-peroxidation of the liver tissue.
Ashwagandha relaxes the psyche, relieves anxiety and thereby stabilises the mood
Patients with behavioural disorders including mood swings during menopause.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
Ashwagandha was one of the components of a multi-plant Ayurvedic preparation called 'Testo' (at a concentration of 25 mg) that provided significant relief in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome.
Ashwagandha is the best treatment for amenorrhoea (the abnormal absence of menstruation).
Control of uterine fibroids
Long-term treatment with Ashwagandha regulates uterine fibroids (benign growths that develop in the muscular walls of the uterus).
Ashwagandha increases fertility
Ashwagandha is used in Ayurveda to treat oligospermia, which causes sterility in male mice.
Ashwagandha can help establish hormonal balance and increase fertility through relaxation and stress relief.
Ashwagandha increases lutropin (LH) hormone levels to normal levels in sterile men.
In sterile subjects, testosterone (T) levels rose after treatment with Ashwagandha.
Ashwagandha improves the function of the thyroid gland, which is responsible for regulating reproductive hormones.
Ashwagandha is effective in treating men with hypogonadism.
Ashwagandha is also effective in restoring male fertility. It improves semen quality and sex hormones in sterile men.
The 60-day intake of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) significantly improved the weight of the testicles and additional sexual organs in male rats.
Ashwagandha is effective in restoring sperm in mice.
Ashwagandha has been shown to fight the formation of ROS (reactive oxygen species) in sterile men.
Ashwagandha extract was effective in increasing sexual performance in male rats.
Ashwagandha is one of the best antidotes for arsenic-induced reproductive toxicity in male rats (due to its herbal healing properties).
Ashwagandha is also effective for semen metabolites in sterile men.
Ashwagandha, however, showed no improvement in men with erectile dysfunction on a psychological background.
Ashwagandha in male infertility
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera Dunal) has traditionally been used in Ayurvedic medicine as an aphrodisiac to treat male sexual dysfunction and infertility.
Studies support the assumption that it increases testosterone levels in humans. Trials have also proven that Ashwagandha can induce spermatogenesis in rats.
Men and women suffer equally from the burden of human infertility, although the etiology is unknown in about half of the infertile men. However, the main cause of reduced fertility is oligospermia.
In addition, many men with sexual dysfunction undergo alternative therapies, creating a need for drugs that are both safe and effective. The use of Ashwagandha, with its positive effects on stress and mental health, as well as influencing certain basic problems of male infertility, could have significantly beneficial effects on couples who are faced with infertility.
A 90-day pilot study conducted in infertility centers in Mumbai, India, involved 46 men aged 22 to 40 who had oligospermia (with a sperm count> 20 million sperm per ml of semen).
All men had a history of regular sexual relationships with a healthy partner who did not suffer from infertility. The men were randomly assigned to treatment with the full range of Ashwagandha extract and received 225 mg per dose three times a day, the comparison group received placebo capsules three times a day. At the end of treatment, sperm parameters and serum hormone levels were measured.
At the end of the 90-day treatment, the following was found in the men who received Ashwagandha:
- 167% increase in sperm count
- 53% increase in sperm mix
- 57% increase in sperm motility
- 17% increase in serum testosterone levels
All improvements were statistically significant compared to a minimal improvement in all values in the placebo group. Almost 70% of the Ashwagandha group described the therapy as 'excellent' compared to 12% of the placebo group.
The scientists came to the following conclusion: 'The results of the current study provide evidence of the safety, efficacy and tolerability of treatment with Ashwagandha extract.'
Ashwagandha reduces immune system diseases
Ashwagandha powder has a preventive effect on mice with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Ashwagandha powder reduces inflammation in pristan-induced systemic lupus erythematosus.
Ashwagandha stimulates bone formation and is also a means of building bone.
Ashwagandha supplements improved calcium retention and bone calcification.
Ashwagandha had a positive effect and had no adverse effects on tibial calcium and phosphorus in laying hens.
Ashwagandha leaves prevented bone loss in mice (both by inhibiting absorption and stimulating new bone formation before the onset of osteoporosis).
Ashwagandha extract had a protective effect in adjuvant-induced arthritis in rats.
Ashwagandha improved bone calcification in rats with calcium deficiency without ovaries.
Ashwagandha suppressed gouty arthritis in rats.
Ashwagandha root extract has a bone-protecting effect on osteoarthritis.
Hormonal effects of Ashwagandha
- Testosterone (T) levels in infertile individuals increased after treatment with Ashwagandha.
- Ashwagandha acts as an anti-estrogen in human breast cancer cells, but this is not necessarily the case with normal cells.
- Ashwagandha caused an increase in the luteinizing hormone (LH) to normal values in sterile men.
Follicle stimulating hormone
- Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) levels increased in infertile men after Ashwagandha treatment.
- Ashwagandha stimulates the function of the thyroid hormone in female mice.
Ashwagandha can only increase T4 (thyroxine) levels in female mice.
Ashwagandha extract stimulated thyroid activity in adult male mice.
Ashwagandha improved metformin-induced hypothyroidism in mice with type II diabetes.
Ashwagandha is an effective treatment for hypothyroidism when taken for 20 days.
Ashwagandha also prevents goiter (an enlarged thyroid).
Ashwagandha protects the liver
Ashwagandha significantly increases the bile acid content of the liver in rats with high cholesterol.
Ashwagandha lowered liver enzymes in metabolism (glucose-6-phosphatase), glycogen and brought them back to normal in alloxan-induced rats with diabetes.
Ashwagandha prevents liver toxicity disorders in rats induced by ionising radiation.
Ashwagandha protects the rats' liver against heavy metals.
Ashwagandha is healthy for the intestines
For intestinal ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome and rectal bleeding, enemas with Ashwagandha extract are prescribed.
Ashwagandha root extract restores the mucous membrane in rats with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Ashwagandha prevents constipation.
Ashwagandha is used in the prevention and treatment of hemorrhoids (swollen veins around the anus or rectum).
Ashwagandha protects the pancreatic cells
Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) could be used as a supportive treatment to improve the outcome of a pancreas transplant.
Ashwagandha protects against damage to the pancreatic cells in rats with type II diabetes.
Ashwagandha protects the kidneys
Ashwagandha extract protects the kidneys from gentamycin-induced toxicity.
Ashwagandha effectively cured kidney corpus against carbendazim-induced damage.
Ashwagandha prevents respiratory diseases
Purified polysaccharides from Ashwagandha relieved coughs in guinea pigs.
Two teaspoons of Ashwagandha three times a day ensures a quick recovery from bronchitis.
Ashwagandha for the skin
Ashwagandha (a paste made from cooked leaves) is often used to heal wounds, scabies, ringworm, leukoderma, leprosy, and acne.
Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) prevents white patches of skin (avoiding the risk of skin hypo-pigmentation).
Ashwagandha extract darkened the skin of melanophores of the wall lizard.
Ashwagandha can reduce morphine addiction
Ashwagandha can help reduce morphine addiction.
Ashwagandha suppressed morphine withdrawals - a sign of the development of morphine addiction.
Ashwagandha in genetic diseases
Ashwagandha has been shown to be effective in treating the adrenal syndrome (overgrowth of the adrenal gland) in a 57-year-old woman.
Ashwagandha is also effective in treating down syndrome symptoms.
Ashwagandha supports muscle growth
A significant increase in body weight was observed in rats treated with Ashwagandha compared to the control group.
Ashwagandha supplements have significantly increased muscle mass and strength in young men and may be useful in conjunction with resistance training.
Ashwagandha has been effective in treating patients with sarcopenia (the loss of muscle mass and strength due to the ageing process).
Ashwagandha appears to be risk-free and strengthens muscle activity.
Ashwagandha for longevity
Ashwagandha leaf extracts (i-extract) have anti-ageing properties.
It is also said to have strongly aphrodisiac, rejuvenating, and life-prolonging properties.
Ashwagandha prevents seizures
Ashwagandha has been used for centuries to treat seizures.
Ashwagandha suppressed seizures caused by PTZ (pentetrazole) in animals when ethanol was withdrawn.
Ashwagandha is also a component of the 'Siotone' granules, which offers significant protection against seizures caused by pentetrazole, severe electric shocks and strychnine.
Ashwagandha can slow cataract formation in the cells.
Ashwagandha plant extract also prevents 'diabetic cataracts' caused by chronically high blood sugar levels.
Ashwagandha offers optimal protection against selenite-induced, oxidative lens damage.
Ashwagandha is often used to treat conjunctivitis.
Ashwagandha protects against industrial toxins
Ashwagandha leaf extract protects normal human cells from the toxicity of methoxyacetic acid (an essential industrial metabolite).
Ashwagandha has also been shown to be effective against diesel exhaust, heavy metals and pesticides, which damage the body's various organ systems.
The effect of Ashwagandha on the blood cells
Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) causes suicidal blood cell death.
Ashwagandha (the leaves) successfully cured anaemia, a common disease among Indian women in rural areas.
Ashwagandha also has the potential to increase red blood cells.
Ashwagandha extract has been shown to increase the number of white blood cells. An injection of Ashwagandha with milk resulted in an increase in white blood cells in low-value animals.
Ashwagandha is an effective antiserum
The external use of the plant extract acts as an antidote to snake bites in rural parts of India.
A purified glycoprotein from Ashwagandha inhibited the hyaluronidase of the poisons of the cobra (Naja Naja) and the viper (Daboi russelii).
Ashwagandha root in combination with other remedies are prescribed for snake venom and scorpion stings.
Ashwagandha along with aloe vera decreased blood sugar in mice with diabetes caused by streptozotocin (STZ).
Ashwagandha is synergistic in rats with diazepam to protect against isolation-induced behavior.
Ashwagandha works together with vitamin D (1,25 (OH) 2 D3) to promote calcium retention and bone calcification.
A combination of the maitake mushroom-derived glucan and Ashwagandha extracts has strong biological effects for a healthy immune system and stress relief.
Ashwagandha combined with anti-tuberculosis and chyawanprash medications (a herbal supplement made from many natural ingredients) have been effective in treating pulmonary tuberculosis.
The Ashwagandha root is considered a tonic, aphrodisiac, anaesthetic and diuretic, it is anti-parasitic, astringent, thermogenic, and stimulating. It is an important component in more than 200 recipes of traditional medicine such as Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani.
The leaves taste bitter and have a characteristic smell. They are recommended for fever and painful swelling.
The flowers have an astringent, cleansing, diuretic, and aphrodisiac effect.
The seeds contain an anti-parasitic active ingredient.
In Ayurveda, berries and delicate leaves are prescribed, which are then applied externally to tumors, tubercular glands, carbuncles, and ulcers.
Other beneficial components are the stems, fruits and the bark.
Active chemical components
The biologically active chemical components are alkaloids (isopelletierin, anaferin), steroid lactones (withanolides, withaferine).
Other components are saponins (Sitoindosid VII and VIII) and Withanolide (Sitoindosid IX and X).
Ashwagandha is also known to structure a wide range of low molecular weight secondary metabolites such as terpenoids, flavonoids, tannins, phenols, and resins.
The leaf extract contains carbohydrates, glycoside sugar, proteins, and amino acids. It is also a rich source of iron.
Ashwagandha dosage and ingestion
A typical dose of Ashwagandha is 3-6 grams of dry root or 300-500 mg of the extract daily. The best effect is achieved with regular intake over several months.
In addition, recipes such as a mild brew, an alcoholic extract mixed with butterfat or honey or oil are also effective for external use.
Ashwagandha extract was risk-free in rats that received orally up to 1,500 mg per kilo over 6 months.
Ashwagandha extract of 2,000 mg per kg body weight, which was taken daily, showed no negative effects in rats and can therefore be classified as non-toxic.
Ashwagandha side effects
Ashwagandha is generally harmless and has no side effects when taken in the recommended dosage. High amounts of Ashwagandha powder can cause abdominal pain and diarrhoea.
Ashwagandha should not be taken during pregnancy as high amounts can lead to miscarriage.
Because Ashwagandha acts as a mild sedative on the brain, patients should avoid alcohol, sedatives, and other anxiolytic medications while on Ashwagandha.
Since Ashwagandha can affect the thyroid hormones, people with hypothyroidism should only take Ashwagandha under medical supervision, as the dosage of the medication may need to be adjusted.
Ashwagandha and the brain
Emotional, physical and chemical stress can damage the brain and nervous system. Recent research has shown that Ashwagandha is more than just a stress reliever; it also protects the brain from degeneration and alleviates the effects of Alzheimer's, depression, and anxiety.
One of the main reasons for Ashwagandha's high effectiveness in healing the brain are its powerful antioxidants that destroy free radicals that are responsible for the ageing process. A study published in the scientific journal 'Phytotherapy Research' explains these advantages:
'Several studies have shown that natural antioxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C and beta-carotene can help destroy free radicals that can help in the beginning and progression of Alzheimer's. But we found that the inhibitory effect of lipid peroxidation was more effective than that of other commercial antioxidants. '
National Brain Research Center scientists found that Alzheimer's mice could not keep what they had learned, but significant improvement was seen after 20 days of Ashwagandha supplementation. The results of this study showed a decrease in amyloid plaques (which cause brain degeneration).
Ashwagandha for endurance and stamina
Studies have shown that by increasing brain function and reducing physical pain, Ashwagandha can increase endurance during physical activity. Thanks to the positive, calming and at the same time energy-promoting effects on the brain and the ability to reduce stress hormones, studies have shown improved concentration, motivation and endurance when administering Ashwagandha.
A special study showed that laboratory rats that received Ashwagandha could swim twice as long as the same species of rat that had not received a supplement.  Scientists believe that similar effects can also be seen in humans due to the extract's ability to balance adrenal hormones that play a role in physical activity.
The extract also had a pain-relieving effect on muscles and joints, while at the same time maintaining the energy level; another reason to believe that this could be a promising supplement for athletes or for those who have problems with pain to be physically active.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera Dunal) has been used in Ayurveda for thousands of years as 'Rasayana' or 'life extender'. Scientists are studying ways to extend a healthy lifetime while studying some physiological factors that could accelerate the ageing process, particularly the breakdown of telomeres.
While Ashwagandha is believed to prolong lifespan, there is limited scientific evidence to support this claim. Could Ashwagandha's effectiveness in slowing the ageing process be in part due to its ability to promote telomerase activity?
The shortening of telomeres as we grow older is known, while telomerase, which is required to maintain the length of telomeres through replication, plays an essential role in a healthy life.1 Various factors, including stress, accelerate the ageing process by shortening the telomeres.
Because Ashwagandha has stress-relieving properties, its ability to promote telomerase activity suggests that it could, in fact, act as a 'life extension' by supporting natural, physical processes.
Human HeLa cells were stored in the DMEM nutrient medium and supplemented with 10% fetal calf serum in a humidified incubator. The cells (40% - 60% confluence) were treated with different concentrations - 10 μg, 50 μg, 100 μg, 500 μg, 5 mg - Ashwagandha extract. The cells were collected and centrifuged and examined for telomerase activity and analysed using the polymerase chain reaction-based quantitative determination of the activity of the enzyme telomerase (TRAP method).
Result of the study:
Ashwagandha extract at a concentration of only 10 μg to 50 μg increased telomerase activity by 45% after 72 hours of exposure.
A dose-dependent increase in telomerase activity of up to 50 μg / ml was observed, after which the activity began to decrease, since the preparation is a powder suspension.
Telomerase activity was highest between 50 ng and 5 ug total protein cell extract, with 2 ug being the ideal protein concentration in this study.
Scientists came to the following conclusion: 'Ashwagandha extract can promote telomerase activity,' and they propose an analysis of various incipient disease states in adults to analyse the holistic protective effect.
Ashwagandha and sexual disorders in women
Many women suffer from sexual dysfunction with problems with orgasm and intercourse. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) has traditionally been used in Ayurveda as an adaptogen to protect the body from stress and to treat sexual dysfunction in men and women.
Can taking a high-concentration Ashwagandha extract alleviate female sexual dysfunction (FSD) by reducing stress or eliminating androgen deficiency syndrome?
It is believed that up to two thirds of all women are affected by sexual dysfunction (FSD), and it mainly affects women who have emotional or stress-related problems.
Furthermore, little is known about the causes and treatment options are inadequate, although a versatile approach seems to be the best solution. In this study, Ashwagandha combined with therapy reduced stress and increased testosterone levels, factors that both cause FSD could. However, the scientists determined that Ashwagandha should not be considered an aphrodisiac because the supplement did not affect sexual desire.
A randomised double-blind pilot study with a placebo control group was carried out in the 'Trupti Hospital' and the 'Santati Fertility Center', Thane in Maharashtra in India. A total of 50 women between the ages of 21 and 50, who had been in a steady heterosexual relationship for over a year and were diagnosed with female sexual dysfunction (FDS), received Ashwagandha or a placebo supplement twice daily for eight weeks and took it also participate in an advisory program.
Sexual function was assessed using two psychometric scales: the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) questionnaire and the Female Sexual Distress Scale (FSDS), as well as the total number of intercourse and the number of successful sexual experiences.
Result of the study:
After eight weeks, women who received Ashwagandha had the following:
- An increase in the overall average FSFI, indicating a significant improvement in FSD
- The average excitation and lubrication areas of FSFI had increased significantly compared to the placebo group
- A significant improvement in both orgasm and sexual satisfaction
There was no difference in sexual activity between the two groups, but there was a significant improvement in sexual intercourse in the treated group after eight weeks.
The scientists concluded: 'Ashwagandha extract could be helpful in treating FSD and the lack of undesirable effects indicates that the extract can be taken without any risks.'
Ashwagandha for cardio-respiratory resilience
Ashwagandha is a well-known adaptogen and is valued for increasing vitality, energy, endurance and stamina, which indicates that it could increase physical performance. The question arises whether a high concentration of Ashwagandha extract can promote cardio-respiratory resilience and improve the quality of life (QOL) in healthy, athletic adults.
Since adults would like to get better results in their sporting activities, an improvement in the VO2max, or the maximum oxygen uptake by the body, which can be used during a workout, ensures better muscle effectiveness and performance. Exercise improved both physical and psychological measurements.
Ayurvedic recipes, also known as Rasayana, such as Ashwagandha, have been used as a remedy for general weakness and to improve vitality and endurance; however, research was needed to demonstrate clinical effectiveness.
The study shows that Ashwagandha increases both cardio-respiratory resilience and quality of life in healthy, athletic adults.
A prospective, randomised, double-blind trial with a placebo control group was carried out in Hyderabad Spine Clinics, Secunderabad, India. A total of 50 healthy adults between the ages of 20 and 45 and a normal body mass index (BMI) received Ashwagandha 300 mg twice daily or a placebo for 12 weeks.
The effectiveness was carried out by a 20-minute shuttle run test from the baseline, week 8 and week 12 with the determination of oxygen consumption at the highest physical performance (VO2max) and a self-assessment of the quality of life through the questionnaire of the 'World Health Organisation-QOL '.
During the course and at the end of the study, the following was found in adults taking Ashwagandha:
- VO2max had grown 4.91% after eight weeks and 5.67% after 12 weeks.
- The quality of life measurements (QOL) were also positively influenced with 9.46%, from the initial value by 7.6% and partial areas of physical well-being from the initial value.
- Environmental impacts on QOL were also significantly higher at the end of the study.
- No changes in basic parameters such as heart rate, blood pressure or breathing at rest were observed.
- All changes were statistically significant compared to the placebo group.
The scientists found: 'Highly concentrated broadband Ashwagandha extract improves a person's resistance to stress and thereby also the self-assessment of the quality of life.'
Link between stress and weight control
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera Dunal) has a long history of use as an adaptogen and helps combat the negative effects of stress on the body. Preclinical studies have shown that various bioactive substances in Ashwagandha influence cortisol levels and have anxiolytic properties.
A third of all adults state that they live under extreme stress, and almost half of all adults say, according to the American Institute of Stress, that stress has increased in recent years. Chronic stress has been linked to negative health effects on the heart, brain and immune system and, more recently, weight gain.
In fact, the results of a study published in February 2017 show that in over 2,500 men and women, those who had the highest levels of the stress hormone cortisol had a larger waist size, weight, and BMI; obese people showed a particularly high cortisol level.
Using a natural solution like Ashwagandha Extract to reduce stress-weight connection by controlling cortisol levels could have a significant impact on health care costs and personal happiness.
An eight-week prospective clinical study at the study center in Pune, India, examined 52 men and women between 18 and 60 years of age who had a 'Perceived Stress Scale (PSS)' of over 20, which indicates chronic stress symptoms, and a body Mass index (BMI) between 25 and 39.9.
It was a randomised double-blind trial with a control group and placebos. The subjects received a broad spectrum Ashwagandha extract with a dose of 300 mg or placebo tablets twice a day.
Primary results were measured using the PSS value and the Food Cravings Questionnaire-Trait (FCQ) and secondary results were related to weight, BMI, serum cortisol levels and happiness.
After the eight weeks, the people who received Ashwagandha had the following results:
- 22% decrease in the average serum cortisol level
- 3% weight loss compared to only 1.4% in the placebo group
In primary outcome and PSS measurement, people taking Ashwagandha showed a marked reduction in the mean, which dropped from 20.3 to 13.6, which was a much greater improvement compared to the placebo group.
FCQ averages for planning, positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, lack of control, emotion, and environment had all decreased statistically significantly in the Ashwagandha group, indicating that subjects refused to use food as a stress management method.
The scientists concluded: 'Ashwagandha extract can help patients under chronic stress manage weight.'
L-arginine, also called arginine, is a semi-essential amino acid. This means that it cannot just be ingested via food, but can also be formed by the body from other amino acids and nutrients. Arginine is one of the proteinogenic amino acids that function as a building block of the proteins in the body and are therefore created in the genetic code.
The amino acid takes on numerous tasks in the human organism. It widens the blood vessels and improves blood circulation, affects hormonal regulation and has an erection-promoting effect. A lack of arginine can lead to reduced performance and sleep disorders, a deterioration in cardiac output, and mood swings.
Even though the body is able to produce parts of L-arginine itself, a deficit an occur. During pregnancy, during growth period as well as after injuries and when under stress, the need may be increased, so that the supply through food and the body's own production is insufficient. To prevent a deficiency, a dietary supplement can be useful.
What is L-arginine?
L-arginine is an α-amino acid. Amino acids (AS) are chemical compounds that, in addition to an amino group, also have a carboxylic acid group. They are the smallest building blocks of albumen (proteins) and therefore playa crucial role in building the tissues in the body. For this purpose, the individual proteinogenic α-amino acids are linked to form chains in the body cells as part of protein biosynthesis.
The substance was first discovered in 1886 by the German chemist Ernst Schulze and his doctoral student. With four nitrogen groups, arginine is the amino acid with the highest nitrogen content. This is why the amino acid plays a crucial role in the production of nitrogen oxide (NO). NO is found as a regulative substance not only in the blood vessels and in the brain, but also assumes a control function in the production of white blood cells (leucocytes).
L-arginine is an amino acid that is widely used. It is, for example, in peas, meat and cow's milk. However, these foods do not contain arginine as a protein component, but rather in the bound form. In the human organism, the amino acid in the urea cycle, also known as the ornithine or Krebs-Henseleit cycle, is formed from the amino acids aspartate and ornithine and the carbamoyl phosphate.
Arginine - Function and effects
L-arginine is probably one of the most versatile amino acids in the human body. So the substance is not only part of the urea cycle, but also involved in the formation of nitrogen oxide. Arginine can also be converted into variousother bioactive substances such as creatine or agmatine.
Arginine in urea metabolism
In the human protein metabolism, ammonia is produced when nitrogenous substances are broken down. In the urea cycle, this is converted into harmless urea in the liver through several intermediate stages, such as the splitting of arginine, which can then be excreted via the kidneys. For urea cycle disorders, a pathologically increased ammonia content in the blood arises and thus causes nerve cell damages.
Arginine and nitric oxide
Not only the formation of urea, but also the production of nitrogen monoxide (NO) is of central importance for well-being and health. Nitrogen monoxide, which is made up of an oxygen and a nitrogen atom, is produced in the innermost layer of the blood vessels (endothelium) and other tissues in the body in a multi-stage reaction and are released when necessary.
The starting substance for this reaction is the amino acid L-arginine. The production of NO is therefore not possible without arginine. Nitric oxide controls various important metabolic processes in the body. In this way, NO not only promotes vasodilation and thereby improves blood flow, but also reduces deposits in the vessel walls. NO can also reduce free radicals and maintain the elasticity of blood vessels by inhibiting the growth of smooth muscle cells.
Arginine, creatine and agmatine
The body can also produce creatine from the amino acids arginine, glycine and methionine in the kidneys, liver and pancreas. This non-proteinogenic amino acid primarily contributes to the energy supply to the muscles. Creatine can also improve oxygen uptake in the brain, reducing mental fatigue.
Agmatine is another metabolite of the amino acid arginine. The guanidine compound not only takes on a functionas a messenger (neurotransmitter), but also has neuroprotective effects. So it can help protect nerve cells. The substance also plays a role in the functionality of the immune system.
The versatile arginine takes on various tasks in the body:
- it has a positive effect on the blood circulation
- it has a hypotensive effect
- it has a metabolic and circulatory effect
- it stimulates insulin production
- it improves the insulin sensitivity of the cells
Furthermore, the amino acid affects the hormonal balance and the immune system.
Basically, a distinction can be made between L-arginine and L-arginine hydrochloride (HCL) in arginine supplements. Both arginine base and arginine HCL are available in raw material form. These two forms differ significantly in terms of purity and also in terms of the pH level.
The L-arginine base corresponds to the actual amino acid L-arginine. The purity is between 98 and 100 percent. This means that the dietary supplement consists of almost 100 percent arginine. Although arginine is an amino acid, chemically it is one of the bases. The pH of the arginine base is between 10.5 and 12 according to international standards and is therefore beneficial for the organism.
Arginine hydrochloride (HCL) consists of a base and a hydrochloric acid. Unlike the arginine base, the purity here is only about 75 percent. The substance is easier to dissolve in water and has a neutral taste. The pH is between 6 and 6.5 and is therefore in the acidic range.
The food supplements can also be differentiated based on the manufacturing process. Fermentation is used to produce the arginine base. Bacteria and enzymes convert basic plant materials such as barley. Arginine hydrochloride, on the other hand, is usually obtained by extraction. The main raw materials are feathers that come from ducks from factory farming. In many cases, however, it can't be ruled out that these starting substances - and thus also the arginine hydrochloride - contain pharmaceutical residues or heavy metals.
The degree of purity and the basic pH are clear advantages of the arginine base. Since the substance is of plant based origin, the arginine base is also suitable for vegetarians and vegans. The distinction between arginine base and arginine hydrochloride is particularly important when it comes to the dosage. A capsule with 700 mg arginine base also contains almost 700 mg arginine, whereas a food supplement with 700 mg arginine hydrochloride only contains around 525 mg of the amino acid.
The natural protein building block arginine is responsible for numerous processes in the human body. Although the substance is contained in various foods and the body itself produces arginine, it can still lead to a deficiency.
In adults, the organism only produces very small amounts of the amino acid, although the need increases with age. Especially people with vascular diseases such as arteriosclerosis and patients with high blood pressure or dementia need more arginine. The need is also increased during pregnancy and with psychological and physical stress. If the daily requirement can't be covered by foods such as sunflower seeds or legumes, an arginine deficiency can occur.
Symptoms of an arginine deficiency
A low level of arginine combined with a high level of ADMA in the blood is particularly critical. ADMA, the asymmetric di-methyl arginine, acts as a counterpart to arginine in the body. It inhibits the conversion of the amino acid into nitric oxide and can lead to a lack of NO. A sufficient supply of arginine can counteract this.
An arginine deficiency can lead to the following complaints:
- High blood pressure
- Diabetes mellitus (Diabetes)
- Performance disorders in the brain up to dementia
- Mood swings
- Susceptibility to infections
- Wound healing disorders
- Restlessness and insomnia
There is no clear dosage recommendation for taking L-arginine. The dosage depends on your age as well as on your own life situation, diet, body weight and health status. The minimum recommended amount is between 3000 and 6000 mg per day. The effect of the amino acid begins about 20 minutes after ingestion and lasts for about three hours. In order to achieve a long lasting effect, arginine should be taken throughout the day.
There are various metabolic disorders that are associated with disorders in the arginine balance. In addition to the ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency, or OTC deficiency for short, this also includes arginine succinic acid disease and argininemia. These diseases are all congenital, so that the first symptoms often appear as early as childhood.
Arginine and metabolic disorders in children
The OTC deficiency is inherited sex-related on the X chromosome, so that both boys and girls can get sick. However, boys are more often affected by the disease. Due to the lack of enzymes, the urea cycle is disturbed. There are increased levels of ammonia in the blood and lower concentrations of citrulline and arginine in the blood. In addition to ammonia-binding drugs, those affected must also substitute amino acids.
Arginine succinic acid has a defect in the enzyme argininosuccinate lyase. This enzyme is responsible for splitting the argininosuccinate into arginine and fumarate in healthy people. A deficit leads to disturbances in the course of the urea cycle with symptoms such as vomiting or lethargy. While the early form already occurs during infancy, symptoms such as high blood pressure or liver diseases only manifest in the late form in older age. Arginine supplementation is also required for arginine succinic acid disease.
In contrast, argininemia, which is caused by a deficiency in the enzyme arginase, shows increased arginine levels in addition to increased ammonia levels in the blood. Neurological damage and delayed mental development can occur.
Arginine and arteriosclerosis
In 1998, the American pharmacologist Louis José Ignarro, along with Robert F. Furchgott and Ferid Murad, received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his research on the substance nitrogen monoxide (NO). The amino acidarginine played a crucial role in the findings. The Nobel Prize winner emphasised that arginine can counter vascular damages.
Arteriosclerosis - Causes and origin
Arteriosclerosis, also known as vascular calcification, is a chronic inflammatory reaction in the vascular walls, which is associated with the storage of fats and cholesterol esters - and thus with a narrowing of the vessels. The disease shows up in the coronary arteries as well as in the leg arteries and the carotid artery. Cardiovascular diseases caused by arteriosclerosis are among the most common causes of death in Germany.
There are various explanatory models for the development of arteriosclerosis. One of these models is the nitrogen hypothesis.
Nitric oxide, arginine and arteriosclerosis
According to recent research, the substance nitric oxide is involved in the development and progression of the disease. The vascular endothelium, e.g. the inner layer of the blood vessels, has cells that can produce NO. For example, NO ensures that the vessels widen and counteracts the build-up of plaque in the vessel walls. However, if these cells do not produce enough nitrogen monoxide, there is a so-called endothelial dysfunction. This in turn benefits the development of arteriosclerosis and thus increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
A lack of NO in the blood vessels can have various causes. One of these causes is a (relative) arginine deficiency. Obesity, smoking or diabetes mellitus can further promote arteriosclerosis. Professor John Cooke from Houston, also known as a pioneer in arginine research, even described arteriosclerosis as a kind of 'arginine deficiency disease'. In his animal models, Cooke was able to show that the administration of L-arginineled to an improved endothelium-dependent relaxation of the vessels and at the same time to a reduced formation of the dangerous arteriosclerotic plaques.
Drexler et al. successfully transferred these positive results from animal studies in 1991 to patients with cardiovascular diseases. Here, too, the (intravenous) administration of L-arginine improved vascular mobility and relaxation. The effects of arginine on the vascular status were also positive in additional studies, especially for patients with high cholesterol and coronary artery diseases (CHD).
Arginine and high blood pressure
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a common illness that often develops gradually and can have serious consequences. According to the guidelines of the German Hypertension League DHL - German Society for Hypertension and Prevention, hypertension occurs when the blood pressure exceeds systolic values of 140-159 mmHg and / or diastolic blood pressure values of 90-99 mmHg several times. Up to 45 percent of the European population suffers from high blood pressure and an increase with age can be observed.
High blood pressure risks
With hypertension, the pressure in the blood vessels is increased. If the high blood pressure remains untreated for a long period of time, this overloads vital organs such as the heart. As a result, the risk of a heart attack or a stroke as well as kidney failure or visual impairment is significantly increased. Symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, or palpitations can indicate increased blood pressure but hypertension often goes unnoticed for a long time.
Lower high blood pressure with L-arginine
L-arginine can counteract the increase in blood pressure in various ways. The amino acid is an important component of nitrogen monoxide, which is (also) responsible for the dilation of the blood vessels. A lack of arginine and NO leads to a reduced elasticity of the blood vessels, increases the risk of developing arteriosclerosis and thus also promotes high blood pressure.
Arginine also modulates the so-called renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS or RAS for short). The RAAS regulates the body's electrolyte and fluid balance and thus has a decisive influence on blood pressure. In a study by Higashi et al., arginine showed an inhibitory effect on the angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE). This promotes the conversion of the substance angiotensin I into the form angiotensin II. Angiotensin II in turn stimulates the release of the antidiuretic hormones (ADH) and the hormone aldosterone and thus causes an increase in blood pressure. By inhibiting the angiotensin converting enzyme, arginine can counteract the increase in blood pressure. The same mechanism is used by ACE inhibitors, which are used to lower blood pressure by medication.
Arginine for circulatory disorders
The body's cells need oxygen all the time to survive and perform their tasks. The oxygen-rich blood reaches the organism from the lungs through the heart. Constricted or clogged arteries can stop the blood flow and therefore also obstruct the oxygen transportation. The result is an arterial circulatory disorder, which is initially accompanied by cold hands or feet as well as dizziness and in later stages with ulceration or angina pectoris. Peripheral arterial diseases (PAD) are also a possible consequence of circulatory disorders. The main cause of these circulatory disorders is arteriosclerosis.
Arginine and peripheral arterial diseases (PAD)
The chronic arterial occlusive disease of the extremities is characterised by the progressive occlusion of the arm and / or leg arteries. The main symptom is pain when walking. Patients have to stop walking so that it looks like they are lingering in front of every shop window and looking in. The disease is therefore also known as a window shopper's disease.
Various studies suggest that L-arginine can relieve the uncomfortable symptoms of window shopper's disease. Ina 1998 study by Böger et al., patients with pAD took eight grams of L-arginine twice a day over a period of three weeks. During this time, the symptoms significantly improved. If pain occurred quickly while walking, the patient was able to walk more than twice as long after taking it. There was also a widening of the femoral artery (arteria femoralis) mediated by the vascular endothelium. Other studies also found a link between L-arginine and chronicarterial diseases.
Circulatory disorders and oxidative stress
Circulatory disorders can affect the arteries of the arms and legs as well as the blood vessels in the brain or the coronary arteries. The undersupply of oxygen has extremely drastic consequences. Stroke and heart attack are among the leading causes of death in Germany. The influence of oxidative stress on the development of the disease has been demonstrated for a large number of cardiovascular diseases.
With oxidative stress, free radicals are generated in the body with various metabolic processes. These reactive oxygen compounds can damage or even completely destroy molecules, cells and tissues. The short-lived and extremely reactive molecular fragments are increasingly formed when the combustion processes in the mitochondria e.g. in the 'power plants' of the cells, are overloaded. Exogenous factors can also benefit the development. This includes among others:
- Exposure to heat
- Cigarette smoke
- Environmental toxins
- UV and ionising radiation
The species of superoxides, also known as oxygen radicals, plays a central role in the development of vascular diseases. The superoxides capture the nitrogen monoxide from the vessel walls and convert it into highly oxidative peroxynitrite. Nitric oxide is an important vessel widening substance, a so-called vasodilator. A deficiency promotes the development of arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, and other circulatory disorders. Arginine can intervene in this imbalance and therefore act as an important protection against oxidative stress.
Arginine and potency
If in more than two thirds of all cases a man does not get an erection or cannot keep his erection for a period of six months, then this is a potency disorder. Sexual intercourse is no longer possible. Depending on the age, every tenth to every third man is affected by the ED. The erectile dysfunction can have a negative impact on self-confidence and can also strain the partnership.
Causes of an erectile dysfunction
While this is mainly due to psychological triggers in younger men, older men have primarily physical causes behind erectile dysfunction. In many cases, the erectile dysfunction is based on calcification of the small arteries that supply the male member with blood. In order to become stiff, the erectile tissue of the penis must fill with blood. If the blood supply is insufficient, the penis remains limp. Nerve damage and diseases such as dementia, Parkinson's or multiple sclerosis can also lead to erectile dysfunction in rare cases. Relationship problems, alcohol, drugs, and depression can also affect potency.
Arginine and erectile dysfunction
The erectile dysfunction can be regarded as an early warning sign. If there is a circulatory disorder, it is by no means a local problem. Other vessels in the body are also affected, so there is an increased risk of a heart attack or stroke. Arginine as a precursor of nitrogen monoxide can help relax the vessel walls and improve blood circulation. This not only has a positive effect on erectile function, but also contributes to a good oxygen and nutrient supply for the entire body.
NO as well as L-arginine are not only important for the condition of the penile arteries. In order for the swollen penis bodies to fill with blood, the smooth muscles must relax. As a result, the blood vessels of the penis expand so that more blood can flow in. At the same time, the muscle cells squeeze the veins so that more blood remains in the penis. The relaxation of the erectile tissue muscles is a process mediated by the parasympathetic nervous system and requires nitric oxide.
Arginine, pine bark extract, and erectile dysfunctions
In a study from 2010, the combination of L-arginine and pine bark extract in particular has proven to be an effective treatment method for erectile dysfunction. Pine bark extract is made from the bark of the maritime pine and, in addition to polyphenols and catechins, also has a high proportion of oligomeric procyanidins (OPC).
In Stanislavov's et al. study, 40 men between the ages of 25 and 45 who had erectile dysfunction received 1.7 g of L-arginine per day for one month. After this period, only two men reported an improvement in their symptoms. This dose was maintained in the second and third months but was supplemented by 40 and 120 mg of pine bark extract. After these three months, 92.5 percent of the study participants had a normal erection ability.
Users also reported about an improvement in potency through the combination of the amino acid arginine and maca. The bulb of the maca plant has been used as a food and medicinal plant for around 2000 years. Maca is now also known in Europe as a so-called superfood and natural aphrodisiac. So far, few studies have looked at the effects of maca on erectile dysfunction. However, there is a positive effect in the few available research work,so that taking it together with arginine may make sense.
Diabetes and arginine
Worldwide, several million people suffer from the metabolic disease diabetes mellitus, which is popularly known as diabetes. A basic distinction can be made between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. While there is an absolute insulin deficiency in type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes is based primarily on insulin resistance. This means that there is actually enough insulin but the body cells no longer respond adequately to the hormone.
As a result, there is a chronic increase in blood sugar levels and a significantly increased risk of complications such as diabetic foot syndrome, diabetic nephropathy or diabetic angiopathy. The vessels in particular suffer from the high blood sugar levels. If the sugar derailment persists for a longer period of time, the arterial calcification increases and hypertension and circulatory disorders occur. This also increases the likelihood of cardiovascular diseases, heart attacks, strokes as well as damages to the nerves and kidneys.
Prevent vascular damage with L-arginine
Arginine is the only amino acid that acts as a precursor to the messenger nitrogen monoxide (NO). NO plays a crucial role in vascular health. So the substance not only contributes to relaxation and thus to the dilation of the blood vessels, it is also involved in the regulation of blood pressure. The availability of the amino acid arginine is therefore an important prerequisite for vascular health and can improve the state of health, particularly in the case of metabolic disorders such as diabetes mellitus.
L-arginine and insulin sensitivity
L-arginine as a precursor to nitrogen monoxide can also have a direct influence on the insulin sensitivity of the body's cells. For people with type 2 diabetes mellitus, the body cells react less to the hormone insulin than the cells of healthy people. This is particularly evident in the liver cells, muscle cells and adipose tissue. This phenomenon affects not only the effects of the body's own insulin, but also that of the insulin supplied from outside.
By activating nitrogen monoxide, arginine can improve the insulin sensitivity of the body's cells. These react more quickly to the insulin, causing the blood sugar level to drop. Under certain circumstances, diabetics with insulin resistance with regular supplementation of L-arginine can reduce their insulin dose or even completely go without externally supplied insulin.
Arginine, sugar metabolism and insulin production
Arginine has an influence not only on insulin sensitivity, but also on the production of insulin and the overall sugar metabolism. In this way, arginine can stimulate the cells of the pancreas to produce and release the important hormone. The antioxidant properties of the amino acid also have a positive effect on blood sugar levels. This shows both a short-term drop in blood sugar levels and a positive influence on the so-called HbA1c value. This laboratory value allows an assessment of the blood sugar values of the past eight to twelve weeks.
Tinnitus and arginine
People with tinnitus permanently or temporarily hear buzzing, whistling, humming, or similar noises that do not exist objectively. The tinnitus can occur in one ear or in both ears. Possible causes of ear noises include:
- Bang or sound trauma
- Sudden hearing loss
- Meniere's disease
- Tumors of the auditory nerves
- Substances that damage the ear
Stress can increase the intensity and frequency of ringing in the ears. It is not uncommon for tinnitus to be accompanied by symptoms such as sleep disorders, depression, or even anxiety.
Improve blood flow to the ear
In many cases, no direct cause for the ear noises can be found. Doctors also speak of idiopathic tinnitus. In a 2006 study, Neri et al. was able to show a connection between oxidative stress and idiopathic tinnitus. They found low concentrations of nitric oxide (NO) in the blood of the jugular vein in tinnitus patients and suspected that this led to a dysfunction of the vessels and thus to poor circulation in the small vessels of the ear.
However, NO not only serves vascular health, it also plays a role in the functioning of the nerves. Among other things, the substance is responsible for the development and regeneration processes of the neurons. The researchers Pall and Bedient even consider disorders in NO synthesis as one of the causal mechanisms in the development of tinnitus. Arginine, as a precursor to nitrogen monoxide, is therefore an important component of tinnitus therapy.
L-arginine and the immune system
Our body is constantly attacked by viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms. Some of these pathogens can cause life-threatening infections. The immune system protects the body from foreign structures and therefore from diseases. The body's defense is a complex system that is influenced by numerous factors. One of these factors is the amino acid arginine.
Arginine and T lymphocytes
The amino acid has a significant impact on T lymphocytes. These white blood cells are an important part of the acquired immune system, because they circulate in the blood and look for foreign antigens. If the T cells have identified a pathogen using so-called antigen-presenting cells, they are activated if there is a simultaneous co-stimulance. The T cells grow and differentiate into T helper cells, regulatory T cells or T killer cells.
The T helper cells produce cytokines that attract other cells of the immune system to fight the pathogen. T-killer cells can destroy the diseased or infected cell directly. In contrast, the regulatory T cells are primarily intended to protect intact body cells from an excessive immune response.
Arginine acts as an important modulator of T cell functions in the immune system. The proliferation e.g. the multiplication and the differentiation of the T cells depend on the amino acid. If there is a lack of arginine, the T helper cells also produce fewer cytokines. Without these important soluble messenger substances, an adequate immune response is not possible. Arginine deficiency also affects the CD3 complex. This is involved in the transmission of the signal to activate the cell. A down regulation of the CD3 complex plays a crucial role in the development of cancer and chronic infections. Arginine also stimulates the formation of lymphocytes in healthy people. Thus, the amino acid could also be suitable for general strengthening of the immune system and for the prevention of diseases.
Arginine and the neonatal immune system
The development of the human immune system begins in the first weeks of pregnancy. The immune system is partly innate, but is still unripe at birth. Premature babies, in particular, are therefore prone to infections with serious illnesses. In newborns and premature babies, arginine appears to be of particular importance for intestinal mucosal immunity. A lack of arginine in newborns increases the susceptibility to colonisation of intestinal pathogens. These not only damage the intestine locally, but can weaken the entire child's immune system.
Supplementing L-arginine immediately after birth can support the development of the immune system and thus protect against infections. In one study, Briana et al. administered arginine to newborns with a very low birth weight. This significantly reduced the risk of the advanced stages of the feared necrotising enterocolitis. A meta-analysis by Garg et al. also found a connection between the supplementation of L-arginine in newborns and a lower mortality rate due to the dangerous bowel disease.
Arginine in sports
The 2010 Bailey et al. study, however, comes to another conclusion with regard to endurance sports. The researchers gave nine healthy men between the ages of 19 and 38 a drink containing six grams of arginine or a placebo drink without active ingredient. The arginine group found a higher level of nitric oxide in the blood after training. This also indicates improved blood circulation. There was also an improvement in VO2max. The VO2max represents the maximum amount of oxygen that a person can absorb and utilise under stress. The better the VO2max, the better endurance sports performance can usually be achieved.
Arginine against stress
Whether at home or at work - more and more people are suffering from stress. Stress and burnout have long ceased to be managerial diseases, but affect people of all ages and occupations. School children and mothers also increasingly show stress-related symptoms such as irritability, stomach and intestinal problems, sleep disorders, or back pain.
The stress hormone cortisol
Cortisol is one of the most important stress hormones. It belongs to the group of glucocorticoids and is increasingly produced and distributed in stressful situations. From the body's point of view, this makes a lot of sense, because the hormone increases the blood sugar level and thus provides energy for the cells. It also increases blood pressure and has an anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive effect. All of these properties are useful for acute stress. It only becomes problematic if the cortisol levels are permanently increased due to constant stress. A chronically elevated cortisol level is associated with high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases and obesity.
Arginine lowers cortisol
In order to prevent secondary diseases, the cortisol level should be reduced in case of permanent stress. The amino acid arginine can be helpful here. Especially in combination with the essential amino acid lysine, arginine can significantly reduce the cortisol concentration in the blood. In a Japanese study, however, the normalising effect on cortisol levels after a stress-causing event was only found in men. The combination of lysine and arginine had no effect in women.
Arginine against the effects of stress
Chronic stress leads to permanent activation of the sympathetic nervous system. This is part of the autonomic nervous system and is usually in a balanced relationship to the calming parasympathetic nervous system. With stress and burnout, however, the sympathetic nervous system gains the upper hand. It increases the heart rate, constricts the blood vessels in the skin and inhibits the insulin production and digestive functions. Excessive sympathetic activity over a longer period of time favors the development of cardiovascular diseases and vasculardamage.
As a precursor to vaso-dilating and hypotensive nitrogen monoxide, the amino acid L-arginine can counteract the symptoms of stress and improve the blood circulation.
L-arginine and cancer
In addition to cardiovascular diseases, cancer is the leading cause of death in Germany. While digestive and lung and bronchial cancer are most commonly diagnosed in men, breast cancer is the most common diagnosis in women. The number of new cases is steadily increasing. The WHO estimates that in 2030 more than 21 million people worldwide will develop cancer each year.
Cancer and nutrition
In their research, Max Parkin and his research team from the Center for Cancer Prevention at Queen Mary University in London came to the conclusion that around 40 percent of all cancers can be avoided. A lack of nutrients due to an unhealthy diet is responsible for around nine percent of all cancer cases. Especially intestinal cancer correlates to a high degree with an unhealthy and unbalanced diet. A sufficient supply of all (semi-) essential amino acids is undoubtedly part of a preventive diet. Scientifically, however, it is controversial as to whether arginine can reduce the risk of cancer.
Does arginine increase the risk of cancer?
Various studies have concluded that arginine can promote cancer growth. This is particularly the case with tumors that cannot produce arginine themselves and are therefore dependent on an external supply of the aminoacid. These include, for example, certain liver cancers, melanoma and some forms of leukemia.
They need arginine for their growth, but are unable to convert citrulline to arginine. Some studies report success in treating these cancers with the enzyme arginase. This is able to convert arginine into ornithine and thus deprive the cancer cells of their food.
Can arginine protect against cancer?
Since arginine has a positive impact on the human immune system, a preventive effect is also conceivable. The immune system not only protects against viruses and bacteria, it also fights degenerate cells in the body. If this does not work properly, the degenerate cells can multiply and spread throughout the body.
Arginine primarily supports the T cells of the immune system. They need arginine to multiply and differentiate. Differentiation in T-killer cells in particular plays a crucial role in combating cancer, since these can specifically target the tumor cells.
Arginine can also promote the production of cytokines. These body's own signaling molecules put the immune system on alert and direct various cells of the immune system to the region in which the degenerated cells are located. In cancer patients, lower arginine levels are often found in the blood serum. This may lead to partial immune system failure with regard to cancer cells.
Avoid complications with arginine
Not only the cancer itself, but also the treatment is associated with risks and complications. Some complications and side effects of cancer treatment can be prevented with dietary supplements. Patients who receive supplements with L-arginine and other nutrients such as glutamine or omega fatty acids are at lower risk of getting an infection after surgery. Likewise, the wounds of patients receiving supplements often heal faster and they spend less time in the hospital.
L-arginine against cachexia
L-arginine also has a positive impact with regard to the dreaded cachexia. This common consequence of cancer is characterised by the loss of fat and muscle mass as well as severe underweight. Around 20 percent of all cancer deaths are a direct result of tumor cachexia. It is therefore all the more important to counteract wasting and increased weight loss at an early stage.
In a 2002 study, cancer patients who lost more than five percent of their weight received a mix of amino acids, including the amino acid arginine. This enabled the researchers to gain weight in the emaciated patients. A 2004 study of cancer and HIV patients came to a similar conclusion. The amino acid mix not only led to an increase in muscle mass, the patients also felt significantly more efficient. The subjects' blood values also improved, such as the number of red blood cells and the hematocrit and hemoglobin content were significant.
The specific connection between L-arginine and cancer has not yet been fully researched. While the growth of certain cancers can be stimulated by arginine, some studies show that the amino acid has a positive impact on the immune system and can thus help prevent cancer. The amino acid has also proven to be a valuable therapeutic component in aftercare.
L-arginine in food
The body can produce some of the amino acid L-arginine itself, but is still dependent on the external supply for an adequate supply. But which foods are particularly suitable to absorb enough arginine?
The United States Department of Agriculture has drawn up a comprehensive list of the arginine content of more than 4,000 foods. This shows that nuts and seeds in particular contain a lot of arginine.
Arginine occurrence in food in grams (per 100 g)Nuts and seeds:
- Sesame 7.44
- Peanuts 6.24
- Pumpkin seeds 5.53
- Hemp seeds 4.55
- Chives 1,53
- Onions 1,20
- Edamame 0,72
- Lima beans 0.52
- Spinach 0,48
- Peas 0,43
- Brussels sprouts 0.22
Meat and fish:
- Pig 2.51
- Cod 3,76
- Turkey 2,3
- Lamb 2,24
- Chicken 2,17
- Octopus 2,18
Milk, milk products and egg:
- Protein 4,81
- Egg (full) 3.08
- Parmesan cheese 1.53
- Milk 1,31
- Mozzarella 1,06
- Yoghurt 0,33
The amino acid arginine can be produced in two processes. On the one hand, extraction from protein hydrolyzates from feathers of animal origin and from gelatin is possible. The protein hydrolyzate, a mixture of different amino acids, is separated by means of crystallisation or a chromatographic process for the exchange of ions. Various proteinogenic amino acids, including arginine, can then be isolated.
Arginine can also be obtained by fermentation of plant based raw materials. Plant substances such as wheat or other types of grains are suitable for this. These are chemically converted by bacteria and enzymes in the fermentation process. Ultimately arginine is formed.
Admission and availability
However, it should be noted that not all of the amino acids contained can be absorbed by the body. On the one hand, the arginine content is reduced by cooking processes such as cooking or roasting, on the other hand, intestinal health and digestive performance generally play a role in the absorption of the amino acid. Pepper extract can improve the absorption and availability of arginine.
Arginine interacts with the following medications:
- Anti-clotting medication (anticoagulants) such as Marcumar or Dabigatran: if arginine is also taken, there is an increased risk of bleeding.
- Medication that lower blood pressure, such as ACE inhibitors or beta blockers: there is a risk of hypotension (low blood pressure).
- Medication for diabetes such as Metformin: arginine can affect blood sugar levels. The dose of the diabetes medication may need to be adjusted accordingly.
- Isoproterenol: In combination with this cardiac medication, L-arginine can lead to low blood pressure.
- Nitroglycerin: Nitroglycerin is used in the form of sprays to treat sudden heart pain (angina pectoris). If L-arginine is taken at the same time, there is a risk of a drop in blood pressure.
- Potassium-sparing diuretics: If arginine is taken with potassium-sparing diuretics, the potassium concentration in the blood can increase to hyperkalemia. This can lead to life-threatening arrhythmias.
- PDE-5 inhibitors such as Sildenafil (Viagra): If arginine is taken in combination with the active ingredient Sildenafil, there is a risk of a drop in blood pressure.
No side effects are expected when taking moderate amounts of arginine. An overdose can occur from an intake of 15 grams of arginine per day.
Anyone suffering from a herpes infection should be careful when taking arginine. Even small doses can trigger the virus and promote an outbreak of the disease. Likewise, L-arginine should not be taken after a heart attack.
Arginine side effects
Side effects rarely occur with the oral supplementation of L-arginine. With severe sensitivity and / or too high a dosage, arginine can have the following side effects:
- Stomach pain
- Sleep disorders