Ashwagandha, a potent herb in the world of Ayurveda, has been used for centuries for its extensive health benefits. However, its potential for promoting skin health has recently garnered significant attention.
As a powerful adaptogen, ashwagandha helps the body manage stress, significantly contributing to skin issues such as acne, premature aging, and dullness. By managing stress, ashwagandha indirectly contributes to healthier, more radiant skin.
Beyond its stress-management properties, ashwagandha has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which are vital for skin health. Inflammation can cause various skin issues, including redness, acne, and psoriasis, while antioxidants help to protect one's skin from the damaging harm of free radicals.
Read on to learn how to incorporate ashwagandha into your skincare routine, the potential benefits and drawbacks, and what to know to decide whether ashwagandha is right for your skin health needs.
- Ashwagandha, a powerful herb used in traditional Indian medicine, has shown some scientific evidence of benefitting skin health.
- Its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, stress-relieving, and collagen-producing properties help to protect the skin and improve smoothness and health.
- The research is still early on ashwagandha’s skincare benefits, so it’s essential to experiment slowly when adding it to one’s skincare routine.
What is Ashwagandha?
Found natively in India, the Middle East, and parts of Africa, ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub known for its distinct red berries and unique aroma. This potent plant resembles the odor of a horse, hence its Sanskrit name Ashwagandha - the "smell of a horse.” Fortunately, commercial ashwagandha products are a great deal kinder to your nose.
For millennia, ashwagandha has been a cornerstone of Ayurvedic medicine. Its origins lie in the belief that the plant could increase life span, fortify physical strength, enhance endurance, and even boost sexual prowess. Today, it's commonly consumed as a ground powder made primarily from the plant's roots, although some also incorporate the berries.
As an adaptogen, ashwagandha is celebrated for strengthening the body’s resilience towards daily physical and mental stresses. Early studies propose that ashwagandha’s potency is rooted in lowering cortisol levels, which can reduce our subjective response to stress.
While we still don’t understand the full extent of ashwagandha’s interactions with the human body, early evidence points to a handful of benefits. From enhancing cognitive abilities to easing anxiety, ashwagandha hosts a range of wellness benefits — no wonder those seeking a natural skincare supplement are interested in exploring the plant’s potential.
Benefits of Ashwagandha for Skin
Researchers have studied ashwagandha for its overall anti-inflammatory abilities, which could help reduce skin inflammation and redness. The plant’s overall ability to fight chronic inflammation also helps to calm the body’s stress response, which can also trigger redness and acne.
Another batch of research indicates that ashwagandha has antioxidant properties, which help to protect the skin from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. This helps prevent signs of aging and other damage, such as discoloration or redness.
One study of ashwagandha demonstrated that using the plant increased the production of collagen in human skin. Collagen is a protein that promotes and helps maintain the skin's elasticity and firmness, and its reduction is associated with aging and the formation of wrinkles.
By promoting collagen synthesis, ashwagandha may help improve skin elasticity, reduce the appearance of wrinkles, and contribute to a more youthful, glowing complexion.
Finally, research examining the effects of ashwagandha on acne found that ashwagandha extract reduced the severity of acne lesions and improved overall skin appearance. The study suggested that ashwagandha may help regulate sebum production, reduce inflammatory response, and prevent the growth of acne-causing bacteria, making it a promising natural remedy for acne-prone skin.
Potential Risks and Side Effects
There are relatively few (if any) side effects associated with ashwagandha use, and it’s generally considered safe for adults to take at recommended doses.
However, some studies found that participants experienced minor digestive issues and discomfort. While these may be related to other ingredients in certain ashwagandha supplements, it's essential to read your labels and make sure you’re not consuming any ingredients to which you’re sensitive or trying to avoid intake.
Ashwagandha also plays a role in boosting testosterone health, which has been linked to the development of hormonal acne or the worsening of existing breakouts. It’s essential to use your best judgment and start with small amounts of ashwagandha in your skincare products if you have a history of hormonal acne difficulties.
How to Use Ashwagandha for Skin
There are various ways to incorporate ashwagandha into your skincare regimen. One option is to take ashwagandha via oral supplements, such as a capsule, tincture, or gummy following the recommended dosage instructions.
Another method is to use skincare products that contain ashwagandha extract or oil. These products can be applied topically to the skin, targeting specific areas, or used as part of an overall skincare routine.
It’s important to slowly incorporate new chemicals into your skin routine and observe their effects before implementing ashwagandha more thoroughly into your day-to-day skincare. If you have any questions, consult your doctor or a dermatologist.
The Bottom Line: Using Ashwagandha for Skin Health
Overall, ashwagandha supplements offer a natural and potentially effective approach to promoting skin health.
The active compounds in ashwagandha, including withanolides and antioxidants, contribute to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can help reduce skin reactions, redness, and oxidative stress. By reducing inflammation and promoting collagen production, ashwagandha may also help reduce signs of aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles.
By understanding the scientific evidence supporting its benefits, potential pros and cons, and how to use it, individuals can make informed decisions about incorporating ashwagandha into their skincare routine. It is always best to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and guidance.
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