Nourish - What’s The Scoop On: Ashwagandha
If you’re suffering from anxiety, going through a stressful period in your life or constantly feeling fatigued, we’ve got the herb for you.
And this is no ordinary herb. No. This is a superstar of a herb, used to help increase vitality, energy, endurance and stamina, promote longevity, strengthen the immune system, not to mention its incredible anti-stress properties.
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 rejuvenative herb that has been used for centuries in Ayurveda, the traditional system of medicine from India.
Traditionally, Ashwagandha has been used to treat anxiety, low energy levels, inflammation, infection, aging, and 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.
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 (such as the adrenals and nervous system) to better adapt to internal and external stressors. These can include environmental toxins and pollution, stress, poor sleeping habits, insomnia, anxiety, 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. They calm without being a sedative. They bring the body gently back into the state of homeostasis necessary for well-being.
Reduces stress and anxiety
This herb is especially helpful for those suffering from stress and anxiety disorders, which 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 can fire up your body and give you energy when you’re feeling fatigued and burned out; or it can suppress stimulatory hormones when you’re feeling stressed.
Ashwaghanda can also depress 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.
Improves sexual function and testosterone levels in men
Ashwaganda is also a powerful reproductive tonic herb with a more specific action on the male reproductive organs (though the herb can be used by both sexes).
Ashwaganda is said to “give the vitality and sexual energy of a horse”; and coincidentally, the word ‘Ashwagandha’ comes from the Sanskrit word, combining ‘ashva’, which means horse, and ‘gandha’ meaning smell. The root itself is said to have a very strong horse-like aroma (yum!).
The good news is that it’s also named this way due to the fact that Ashwagandha gives ‘stallion strength’.
Ashwagandha may also help those with stress related fertility problems as well as indirectly helping with sex drive and aging, 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.
Supportive to the immune system
Ashwagandha has immunomodulating effects that help boost the immune system and also help the body lower its 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.
Maybe you’ve noticed when you’ve been stressing about getting ready for your holiday/event/wedding etc. you managed to run yourself to the ground and got sick not too long after. Yup – that’s stress my friends. Not a friend to your immune system that’s for sure.
Ashwagandha, the marvelous adaptogen that it is, helps to lessen the effects of stress on the nervous system, cutting 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 has been linked to, from enhanced memory and cognition through to increased endurance and strength.
How do you take Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha has a quite bitter taste, and is traditionally taken with hot milk (dairy, almond, rice, coconut etc.) and honey in the evening.
Alternatively it can be taken any time of the day in a capsule form or powdered form.
Try 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 ashwaghanda).
Warm milk, or milk beverages e.g turmeric latte
Raw desserts e.g chocolate mousse like this one for example
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*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