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Ashwagandha's Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Ashwagandha is considered an adaptogen, meaning it has the ability to protect that body against the harmful effects of chronic stress and restore/retain normal functioning. Studies done on animals have shown that the root offers antioxidant protection against free-radicals, helping to reduce cellular stress and the inflammatory responses to that stress.1

One of the ways it does this is by increasing phase II liver enzymes that help get rid of byproducts (such as free radicals) that are generated by the first phase in liver metabolism of toxic substances. Conversely, ashwagandha does not offer any antioxidant protection to cancer tumor cells and in fact increases their susceptibility to oxidative damage from free radicals.15

Several other research efforts demonstrate that its anti-stress activity can aid in treating many stress-induced conditions, ranging from gastric ulcers to hypertension and liver toxicity. These antioxidant effects may help slow the aging process in healthy individuals. Studies suggest that intake of the herb may improve muscular performance, increase strength and endurance, raise hemoglobin levels in the blood, and inhibit loss of hair melanin (to keep hair from turning grey).(11, 24) Interestingly, loss of melanin in dopamine-producing neurons is associated with the onset of Parkinson's disease—a neurodegenerative condition also linked to aging.25

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