Ashwagandha may have some medicinal properties, with proponents suggesting it can help with diabetes and blood sugar management. However, more research is necessary to prove its effectiveness.

Ashwagandha is the common name for Withania somnifera, a family of plants with numerous potential health benefits for both mental and physical conditions. Also known as Indian ginseng, ashwagandha plants are becoming increasingly popular in Western society but have been a part of an alternative treatment called Ayurvedic medicine for more than 3,000 years.

While some evidence suggests that ashwagandha may possess antidiabetic properties, there are not currently enough robust data to suggest that it can help manage diabetes. More human research is necessary to evaluate its effect on blood glucose, A1C, and insulin.

This article discusses how ashwagandha may affect blood glucose levels and may have some benefits for people living with diabetes.

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While ashwagandha cannot cure diabetes, and many existing approved and effective medications help people manage their condition, the plant shows some promise in helping to manage blood glucose levels. For example, a 2015 test-tube study found that ashwagandha increased insulin secretion and improved insulin sensitivity in muscle cells.

Some human studies also suggest that the plant can reduce blood glucose levels. A 2020 review notes that administering ashwagandha root powder to people with diabetes could help to lower their blood glucose. Other research also suggests that taking ashwagandha can help to improve fasting blood glucose levels in adults experiencing stress-related health conditions.

Although there is growing evidence to suggest that ashwagandha may play a role in helping to manage diabetes, more research is necessary. Future research may help to strengthen the antidiabetic profile of ashwagandha and allow scientists to understand the mechanisms behind ashwagandha’s potential antidiabetic properties.

Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera and Indian ginseng, is a family of plants that may possess many potential health benefits. Ashwagandha plants contain powerful antioxidant properties, which may help protect cells from free radicals, improving the body’s response to stress. Ashwagandha could also help increase protection from some diseases by enhancing immune response.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines diabetes as a chronic condition that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is the hormone that the body uses to utilize sugar for energy.

There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. When a person has type 1 diabetes, their body cannot produce insulin. Individuals can manage type 1 diabetes by controlling their diet and administering insulin to manage their glucose levels.

Type 2 is the more common type of diabetes. This is where the body does not use insulin correctly. Some people can manage type 2 diabetes with diet and exercise, but others may also need medication.

While research is still ongoing, some evidence indicates that ashwagandha has numerous potential benefits for both physical and mental health conditions. This is because of the nutraceutical and therapeutic potential of the plants. As a result, people have used ashwagandha for pharmaceutical and medicinal purposes for many years.

Additionally, while more research is still necessary, some evidence suggests that ashwagandha may possess the following properties:

  • antidiabetic
  • anticancer
  • anti-inflammatory
  • antimicrobial
  • antiarthritic
  • neuroprotective
  • cardioprotective
  • hepatoprotective

It is always important for a person to speak with a healthcare professional before starting any new diabetes treatment, even if the product has natural origins.

A systematic review of ashwagandha investigated four studies between 2000–2015, all of which found that participants using the herb to treat diabetes reported no adverse effects. This suggests that if a person uses the herb properly and consults with a doctor first, it has a low risk of causing harm.

Additionally, a 2020 study evaluating the safety aspects of ashwagandha suggests that the plant products are safe for all ages and sexes, including pregnant people. However, a study in Iceland notes that ashwagandha may contain some hepatotoxic properties, which can lead to liver damage.

Further research can improve current understanding of the potential effects that ashwagandha may cause. While the plant may show promise, it is important that people continue with their doctor’s recommended treatment to help manage their diabetes.

There are different methods of preparing ashwagandha depending on the condition it is treating and the type of plant within the Withania somnifera family.

For example, a 2020 study in mice reports that orally administering ashwagandha in the form of powder can be beneficial for many conditions, including neurodegenerative disorders and cancer. Alternatively, applying ashwagandha as a paste can reduce joint inflammation and other types of painful swelling.

One ashwagandha species, Ashwagandha ghrita, is particularly useful when people combine it with ghee, a type of clarified butterfat. This is because processing the plant in this way increases antioxidant function.

For people with type 2 diabetes, administering ashwagandha in the form of root and leaf extract could be an effective form of treatment. As a powder, ashwagandha may help reduce a person’s blood glucose and increase urine concentrations of sodium and low-density lipoproteins.

Ashwagandha is a resource that people can use to help manage diabetes, particularly with type 2. However, it is one of many treatment options that people can use. Guidelines recommend that self-management and education are crucial aspects of diabetes care.

An important aspect when controlling type 2 diabetes is diet, as people can reduce their blood glucose levels by consuming a healthy diet. Other strategies people can use to help manage their blood glucose levels may include:

  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • exercising regularly
  • stopping smoking
  • taking medication as prescribed

Click here to learn more about tips for managing diabetes.

Ashwagandha is a family of plants that potentially contains beneficial health properties. This may include antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Ashwagandha has been an important part of an alternative treatment called Ayurvedic medicine originating from India for more than 3,000 years. Ashwagandha is becoming increasingly popular in Western society.

Ashwagandha could play a role in treating a range of physical and mental health conditions, including diabetes. Using ashwagandha might help people manage their type 2 diabetes as it can help lower blood glucose levels. Despite evidence supporting ashwagandha’s use in treating diabetes, more research is still necessary to prove its effectiveness. Before using ashwagandha, it is important for people to speak with their doctor.