Nourish - What’s The Scoop On: Ashwagandha
Are any of you suffering from anxiety, going through a stressful period in your life or constantly feeling fatigued? Well then, we’ve got the herb for you. Ashwagandha.
And this is no ordinary herb. No. This is a superstar of a herb, used to help:
- promote longevity
- strengthen the immune system
- reduce stress
Let’s go into more detail, shall we?
What Is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is the root extract of Withania Somnifera, also known as Winter Cherry or Indian ginseng.
Ashwagandha is a highly valued rejuvenating herb used for centuries in Ayurveda, the traditional system of medicine from India.
Traditionally, Ashwagandha has a history of use treating:
- low energy levels
- as an overall body tonic for general health and wellbeing
Now after so much research and study has gone into learning more about the plant, its popularity has increased thanks to its exceptional properties becoming more well known about.
No. 1 – It’s an Adaptogen
Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic, meaning it helps to promote balance in the body. Adaptogens are herbs or botanical substances that help to balance the body’s physiological systems. This means they help the adrenals and nervous system to better adapt to internal and external stressors.
- environmental toxins and pollution
- poor sleeping habits
- extreme nervousness
- or depression to name a few
These adaptogens calm and nourish the adrenal glands and support all the processes that are controlled by the adrenals. From blood sugar and immune system regulation to hormones and blood pressure.
The beauty of adaptogens is that they know what you need.
They energize without being a stimulant and calm without being a sedative. They bring the body gently back into the state of homeostasis necessary for well-being.
No. 2 – Reduces Stress and Anxiety
This herb is especially helpful for those suffering from stress and anxiety disorders. These tend to involve two extremes of high stress and stimulation, combined with fatigue and adrenal exhaustion.
Ashwagandha has the unique ability to calm the nervous system whilst also promoting energy and vitality. It fires up your body and gives you energy when you’re feeling fatigued and burned out. Additionally, it suppresses stimulatory hormones when you’re feeling stressed.
Ashwagandha also depresses the central nervous system, therefore inducing sleep and relaxation.
And here’s a fun fact: Ashwagandha may help to actually balance the hormones that contribute to anxiety. The hormone-modulating effect of Ashwagandha is thought to be enabled by several naturally-occurring phytochemicals. Researchers believe that specific phytochemicals referred to as withanolides are able to act as precursors to the hormones which regulate our stress and relaxation responses.
No. 3 – Improves Sexual Function and Testosterone Levels in Men
Ashwagandha is also a powerful reproductive tonic herb with a more specific action on the male reproductive organs. That being said, the herb is used successfully by both sexes.
Ashwagandha is said to “give the vitality and sexual energy of a horse”. Coincidentally, the word ‘Ashwagandha’ comes from the Sanskrit word, combining ‘ashva’, which means horse, and ‘gandha’ meaning smell. The root itself has a very strong horse-like aroma (yum!).
The good news is that it’s also named this way due to the fact that this herb gives ‘stallion strength’.
This herb also helps those with stress-related fertility problems as well as indirectly helping with sex drive and ageing. It does so by reducing emotional and chemical stressors.
And with this herbs ability to increase blood flow, it should come as no surprise that increased blood flow and relaxation results in a positive effect on libido and sexual health.
No. 4 – Supports the Immune System
Ashwagandha has immunomodulating effects that help boost the immune system and lower cortisol levels.
You probably know already that when you’ve been super stressed, every cold or infection going around seems to be befriending you each and every time.
This is particularly noticeable after holiday/event/wedding/exam etc stress. After running yourself to the ground you get sick not too long after. Yup – that’s stress my friends. Certainly, not a friend to your immune system that’s for sure.
Interestingly, this adaptogen helps to lessen the effects of stress on the nervous system. This helps cut back on the adrenaline ‘fight or flight’ response, leaving you with a happier immune system.
These are just a snippet of the things Ashwagandha is beneficial for. There are many other benefits that Ashwagandha offers, from enhanced memory and cognition through to increased endurance and strength. I just simply can’t fit it all in one post!
How Do You Take Ashwagandha?
The first thing to note is this. Ashwagandha has a quite bitter taste. That’s why it is traditionally consumed with hot milk and honey in the evening. You’ll also find there’s the traditional use of rolling small balls of honey in the powder and making a make-shift pill.
Alternatively, take this herb any time of the day in a capsule form or powdered form.
We stock Pukka Wholistic Ashwagandha, Wild Nutrition Ashwagandha Plus Capsules or Super Foodies Organic Ashwagandha powder.
Other options for incorporating Ashwagandha into your life include taking the powder/opening a capsule up and mixing in to:
- Raw superfood balls (combine dates, honey, nut butter, nuts, coconut and ashwagandha).
- Warm milk, or milk beverages e.g turmeric latte or Pukka Night Time Latte (use dairy, almond, rice, coconut etc.)
- Raw desserts e.g chocolate mousse – like this one for example
Want to learn more? Read over these blog posts covering more on anxiety, stress and the immune system:
- 10 Tips for Overcoming Anxiety Naturally
- Natural Ways to Reduce Stress, Anxiety and Fear Whilst Also Supporting Your Immune System – Part One
- Support Your Immune System Now with These 5 Things
- Cold Sore Virus – Natural Preventatives, Treatments and Remedies (Part Two)
- 7 Ways to Nip Holiday Stress in the Bud and Help Support a Healthy Stress Response
Any questions? Drop into your local Nourish store to chat with our expert team and explore our full range of foods, supplements and skincare. You can also find our full product range in our online store.
*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention.
Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any medication.
Do take note: This bush belongs to the nightshade family, so for anyone with a nightshade intolerance, you’ll have to pass on Ashwagandha