Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by inflammation and organ damage.
It occurs when the body’s immune system becomes reactive to its own cells, leading to their destruction.
Hence, Lupus is an autoimmune disease. Lupus is common in women as compared to men, although it can manifest itself in any individual.
Common symptoms of Lupus include red rashes, fatigue, hair loss, swelling of the joints and fever.
Organs susceptible to damage our heart, brain, kidney or liver.
Treatments include medications that can control symptoms and prolong or prevent organ damage.
Dietary and lifestyle changes play an essential role in treatment and management of Lupus.
Ashwagandha has numerous health benefits that can help relieve symptoms of Lupus and manage as well as prevent the diseases significantly.
Let us have a look at what is Ashwagandha.
What is Ashwagandha and what are its benefits?
Ashwagandha is a common name for Withaniasomnifera which is widely used as an ingredient in Ayurveda.
The plant is cultivated in various parts of India and presents a variety of health benefits.
The roots of ashwagandha are rich sources of nutrients. They also have potent healing properties that can be beneficial even for topical application.
The absence of any adverse safety concerns of Ashwagandha makes it a potential agent for treatment of a variety of diseases.
We will now learn how Ashwagandha can benefit Lupus patients.
Benefits of Ashwagandha for Lupus
Ashwagandha can help in Lupus is several ways. Ashwagandha has natural anti-inflammatory properties and thus fights inflammation associated with Lupus. It is rich in anti-oxidants and also protects Kidney from damage. It also helps in regulating the immune system. Lastly, it also helps in fighting against the fatigue.
These benefits are discussed in detail below -
1. It can fight Inflammation
Inflammation is the major symptom in Lupus and needs to be dealt with immediately and carefully as chronic inflammation can cause further medical complications.
A study published in Drug discovery and therapeutics in 2011 revealed that powder made from the root of Ashwagandha has an inhibitory effect on proinflammatory mediators called cytokines on animal models of Lupus.
Significant reduction in inflammation was observed within 6 months.
An experimental study published in Immunopharmacology in 2012 demonstrated that Withaniasomnifera reduced inflammation in animal models induced by lupus by inhibiting production of inflammatory molecules like cytokines, interleukins, and tumour necrosis factors.
What does this mean? Ashwagandha exhibits anti-inflammatory properties capable of preventing chronic inflammation in Lupus.
2. It is rich in Antioxidants
Oxidative stress induced by oxidative free radicals can increase the risk of organ damage by inducing destructions of cells and tissues hence it becomes very important to regulate oxidative stress in Lupus.
Studies suggest the presence of a large number of phenols in roots of Withaniasomnifera depicting its high ability to prevent oxidation.
Root extracts from the plant also possess radical scavenging properties.
What does this mean? Root extracts of ashwagandha are rich in phenols that are potent antioxidants capable of reducing increased oxidative stress in Lupus thereby preventing oxidative damage.
3. It protects Kidney from Damage
Kidneys are highly susceptible to damage in Lupus and therefore need to be protected especially from oxidative damage, stress, and inflammation induced in the tissues and cell resulting in renal failure.
A study published in Renal Failure in 2009 demonstrated that root extracts ofWithaniasomnifera protect the kidneys by enhancing antioxidant status which is due to the presence of antioxidants in it and its radical scavenging property.
Another study confirmed nephroprotective activity of Withaniasomnifera by mentioning that it contains natural phenols and bioactive components that reduce oxidative stress induced on the kidneys that lead to tissue damage.
What does this mean? Ashwagandha has bioactive compounds that protect the kidney from damage and can help protect the kidneys from damage in Lupus.
4. It regulates Immune System Activity
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease.
Hence to observe positive results faster one needs to bring about changes in the diet along with consumption of prescribed medications.
Studies suggest that Withaniasomnifera has the ability to suppress the activity of the immune system which can be highly beneficial in the treatment of autoimmune diseases like Lupus.
A study published in International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research mentioned that root extracts from Withaniasomnifera, when administered in powdered form, show that it has a modulatory effect on the immune system.
It also delays hypersensitivity reactions (undesirable reactions produced by the normal immune system).
What does this mean? Ashwagandha is a natural immunomodulator. Hence it can play an essential role in management and prevention of Lupus.
5. It relieves Fatigue and Other Symptoms
Fatigue, fever, joint swelling and stress are common symptoms observed in Lupus.
Ashwagandha serves as a potential agent in relieving these symptoms.
Ashwagandha is popularly known as a rejuvenator. A study published in Indian Journal of Psychological medicine showed that roots of ashwagandha reduces fatigue and improves resistance to stress in adults suffering from stress and anxiety.
This helps in improving the quality of life.
A research study published in African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative medicines described various properties of Ashwagandha.
It mentioned that application of paste made from roots of Ashwagandha on affected joints could help reduce swelling, pain, and inflammation.
Consuming leaves of the plant although bitter help in fever and swellings in joints. The study also stated that Withaniasomnifera, when consumed in the form of a tonic, helps reduce fatigue and rejuvenates patients with stress-induced diseases.
What does this mean? Ashwagandha can alleviate various symptoms associated with Lupus depicting its beneficial effects in curing the disease.
Dosage of Ashwagandha for Lupus
There is no specific dosage of Ashwagandha for Lupus. It is most commonly consumed in powdered form.
The powder is obtained from roots of the plant that contains most of the beneficial properties.
The dose range for supplements starts with as low as 300-500mg to as high as 2000mg (3x).
Leaves of Ashwagandha can be chewed to reduce fever and swelling in joints. These leaves may be bitter however they are highly effective in their activity.
One must always begin with small doses and gradually increase the dose to determine the dose appropriate and one which suits his/her body.
For topical application on joints, one can apply a paste prepared from grinding ashwagandha leaves and roots. It is safe and effective with no reported side effects as such.
It is now also available in the form of capsules, tonics, and pills. Certain foods also contain ashwagandha as an ingredient to enhance the nutritive value.
Those who wish to opt for supplements must consult a doctor before doing so. This is especially for those who are on other medications. Avoid ashwagandha supplements during pregnancy and lactation unless advised by a health practitioner.
Ashwagandha is safe and effective if consumed in small doses however one must avoid large doses as that could lead to side effects.
Large doses can lead to side effects like vomiting, nausea, and diarrhoea and thus these precautions should be considered before the intake.
Pregnant and lactating women, as well as those on other medications, must avoid the consumption of Ashwagandha in any form unless recommended by a doctor.
It is important to buy Ashwagandha from trusted markets and brands to avoid the risk of consuming adulterated supplements.
Consult your doctor before starting the intake of Ashwagandha especially if you wish to opt for supplements.
Ashwagandha provides a variety of therapeutic benefits that may relieve patients who have Lupus.
It is safe and effective and can be used as an add-on therapy for inclusion in the diet or topical application as a paste to manage Lupus symptoms effectively.