Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera, is an ancient herb commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine. It is known for its numerous health benefits, including reducing stress and anxiety, improving brain function, boosting testosterone levels, and enhancing physical performance. In recent years, research has also suggested that ashwagandha may have potential benefits for people with diabetes. In this blog, we will explore the potential benefits of ashwagandha for diabetes patients.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by high levels of blood sugar. There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition where the body's immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin injections or use an insulin pump to manage their blood sugar levels.
Type 2 diabetes is the more common form of diabetes and occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or does not produce enough insulin. This results in high levels of sugar in the blood. Type 2 diabetes can often be managed through lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, a healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight. In some cases, medication or insulin injections may be necessary to manage blood sugar levels.
Ashwagandha and Diabetes
Ashwagandha has been studied for its potential benefits for people with diabetes. Some of the potential benefits of ashwagandha for diabetes patients include:
1.Lowering Blood Sugar Levels
Studies have suggested that ashwagandha may help lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. One study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that ashwagandha root extract lowered blood sugar levels in both normal and diabetic rats. Another study published in the Indian Journal of Experimental Biology found that ashwagandha root powder reduced blood sugar levels in rats with diabetes. While further research is needed in humans, these initial studies suggest that ashwagandha may be a promising supplement for managing blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
2. Reducing Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance is a key factor in the development of type 2 diabetes. Research has suggested that ashwagandha may help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce insulin resistance. One study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that ashwagandha root extract improved insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes. Another study published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements found that ashwagandha supplementation improved insulin sensitivity and reduced fasting blood sugar levels in healthy individuals.
3. Improving Lipid Profile
People with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing heart disease. High levels of triglycerides and cholesterol are common in people with diabetes and can contribute to the development of heart disease. Studies have suggested that ashwagandha may help improve lipid profile in people with diabetes. One study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that ashwagandha root extract reduced triglyceride levels and improved cholesterol levels in rats with diabetes.
4. Reducing Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress is a key factor in the development of diabetes complications such as neuropathy, retinopathy, and nephropathy. Studies have suggested that ashwagandha may have antioxidant properties and can help reduce oxidative stress in people with diabetes. One study published in the Journal of Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders found that ashwagandha root extract reduced oxidative stress in people with type 2 diabetes.
How to Use Ashwagandha for Diabetes
Ashwagandha is available in various forms, including capsules, powders, and teas. It may also help improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that allows your body to use glucose from carbohydrates for energy or to store it for future use. In people with diabetes, insulin sensitivity is often impaired, leading to high blood sugar levels.
Studies have shown that ashwagandha can improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels in both healthy individuals and those with diabetes. In one study, a group of people with type 2 diabetes were given ashwagandha for 30 days. The results showed that their fasting blood sugar levels decreased by an average of 13.5%.
Ashwagandha may also help reduce the risk of complications associated with diabetes. Diabetes can lead to several complications, including nerve damage, kidney damage, and eye damage. Studies have shown that ashwagandha can help protect against nerve damage caused by diabetes and reduce the risk of kidney damage.
Additionally, ashwagandha may help improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which can also be affected by diabetes. High levels of cholesterol and triglycerides can increase the risk of heart disease, which is a common complication of diabetes.
Ashwagandha may be a beneficial supplement for people with diabetes. It can help lower blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity, reduce the risk of complications associated with diabetes, and improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels. However, it is important to talk to your doctor before taking ashwagandha, as it may interact with certain medications and may not be safe for everyone.
Overall, managing diabetes can be challenging, but incorporating lifestyle changes and natural remedies like ashwagandha can be helpful in managing symptoms and improving overall health.
Jayti Shah is a Clinical Nutritionist with a master's degree in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a member of the Indian Dietetic Association (IDA). Over the last 9 years, she has helped 400 clients in their clinical and weight loss journeys. She works with SocialBoat as a nutrition consultant.
At SocialBoat, we offer custom diet plans and guided workouts to help you achieve your goals in a 360-degree approach. Our gamified experience ensures that you don’t find workouts boring and we reward you for being consistent with your efforts.