Indian Herb Stops and Even Reverses Brain Loss

It used to be a cliché of western movies: an old-time medicine show would feature a pitchman working to convince an audience of gullible locals that his tonic could cure practically everything. Resuscitate your sex life. Reduce your stress. Ease anxiety. Fight nasty diseases like cancer. Soothe a cranky ulcer.

If you heard that kind of talk today, you’d probably brush off the speaker as a snake oil salesman pushing a worthless product. But even though it sounds improbable, there actually is an herb from India that can do all these things, according to that country’s medical experts.

And so far, nobody in a research lab has been able to prove them wrong.

Matter of fact, studies on this herb, which has been used in traditional Indian medicine for more than 6,000 years, show it can give you impressive brain and other health benefits that scientists are only beginning to understand.

An Herb From The Ayurvedic Tradition

The herb, called ashwagandha, is a widely used botanical employed in Ayurvedic medicine, the ancient healing tradition of India. Also called Indian winter cherry and Indian ginseng, ashwagandha is considered a “Rasayana,” a medicinal plant known for its ability to make your mind and body function more effectively while lifting your mood.

Although more study is needed to understand exactly how ashwagandha helps the brain stay healthy, the study results so far have been impressive. When researchers gave ashwagandha to animals that suffered the kind of damage seen in Alzheimer’s patients, they found proof that the herb can restore brain function elements that are destroyed when the brain starts to break down.

In one Japanese study, scientists worked with animals that had amyloid peptide accumulation in their brains. The growth of amyloid peptide occurs when Alzheimer’s disease begins to affect memory. It makes up the brain plaques that are the main physical sign of the illness.

Just as sludge can block plumbing, amyloid peptides can gum up the brain’s neural networks. They block nerve signals and set off damaging inflammation that can eventually destroy your ability to navigate daily life.1

When these animals were given extracts from ashwagandha, the researchers discovered that the chemicals were converted into a substance called sominone that stimulated the reconstruction of brain structures. According to the scientists, it “significantly improved memory deficits… and prevented loss of axons, dendrites, and synapses.”

Ashwagandha may help treat a wide range of other brain problems. In reviewing studies of the herb, researchers at the International Institute of Herbal Medicine in India emphasized, “There are dozens of studies that show that Ashwagandha slows, stops, reverses or removes neuritic atrophy and synaptic loss. Therefore Ashwagandha can be used to treat Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and other neurodegenerative diseases at any stage of the disease, even before a person has been diagnosed and is still in the state of mild forgetfulness.”2

Also Helps Relieve Stress, Soothe Ulcers and Quench Free Radicals

Aside from these effects on the brain, a growing number of studies have shown that the natural chemicals in ashwagandha can support many other aspects of health. The herb helps protect mitochondria, the tiny structures that are often called the cell’s energy factories.3

The herb has also been shown to offset the effects of stress and soothe stomach ulcers. At least part of its power, according to Indian scientists who have studied the plant, is due to its “potent antioxidant properties that help protect against cellular damage caused by free radicals.”4

So you don’t need a pitch man at a medicine show to see the benefits of ashwagandha. Its potential protective properties are known to be far-reaching and profound.


  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16553605
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3252722/?report=classic
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2963652/
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3252722/?report=classic