Ashwagandha, an herb used in the Ayurvedic tradition, markedly improves antioxidant status and protects against heart damage during heart attack, researchers say. The herb was compared to vitamin E in a study where heart attacks were induced in rats (poor little guys!). It was found that Ashwagandha greatly increased glutathione levels, whereas vitamin E did not. If you've been following my articles, you'll recall from my Antioxidant Article that glutathione is your body's most powerful antioxidant and detoxifier. That same article quotes research demonstrating that taking vitamin E has not been shown to be beneficial in most studies, and that some studies actually show evidence of harm. Food based antioxidants are a much better way to go, along with whey protein (which also gives glutathione levels a boost).
The study also showed that supplementing with Ashwagandha prior to a heart attack greatly reduces the amount of damage to the heart--I recently cited similar research on Ashwagandha protecting the brain from damage after a stroke.
Read the study here.