Ashwagandha, pronounced just as it is spelled, is a plant in the Solanaceae family, a.k.a. the nightshade family. It is native to parts of Africa, India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan and prefers temperate climates and grows well in drier subtropical regions.
In the traditional Indian system of medicine, Ayurveda, Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a rasayana, meaning it is an herb that rejuvenates and restores, in Western Herbalism, we call it an Adaptogen [Adaptogens, in short, are herbs that help our bodies adapt to every day stress and support overall health.] We mostly use Ashwagandha’s roots, as they are found to be the most medicinal part of the plant, although it's leaves and fruits have been used as well. Ashwagandha has been used for thousands of years as a tonic in not only Ayurveda, but also in Unani-Tibb and other traditional systems of medicine. Lately, this herb has experienced quite a bit of popularity… for very good reason:
It Regulates Overall Immune Function
Ashwagandha is an immunoregulator. It will up-regulate the immune system if your body needs a boost, or it will down-regulate it if your body’s immune system is overworking (in the case of auto-immune disease). It significantly increases levels of immunocompetent cells, immune complexes, and immunoglobulins which is why it has been used extensively for tumors, multiple cancers, and several auto-immune diseases. (Yance 364)
It is Rich in Iron
When taken in powder form, ashwagandha is very rich in iron. It can be used as a tool for bringing iron back up to an appropriate level with anemia - it is super tasty with some heated almond milk and a bit of molasses (also rich in iron!).
It Reduces Stress & Anxiety
As an adaptogen and a nervine, ashwagandha is known to significantly reduce stress by regulating the function of the endocrine system and relaxing the nervous system. Ashwagandha is a calming adaptogen that works over time, one would notice a difference in 2-3 weeks using it at the appropriate dosage. It is often effective for anxiety, brain fog, fatigue, insomnia caused by stress, and nervous exhaustion.
It Regulates Sleep Rhythms
Ashwagandha is a calming adaptogen, but don’t fret, it should not by any means make you sleepy, it will just chill your nervous system out so you are actually able to relax. Although it does not make you directly sleepy, it does seem to regulate sleep patterns over time, enabling the consumer to get a better night’s rest and wake up feeling more rejuvenated.
It is Neuroprotective & Rich in Antioxidants
Ashwagandha is packed with antioxidants, it seems to have a knack for supporting the body by reducing free-radicals allowing the body to regenerate healthy tissue. It protects the brain, the heart, and the liver… just to name a few of the important organs the antioxidants help out.
It Supports a Healthy Thyroid
Ashwagandha is one of the few herbs that has a significant effect on the thyroid hormone. It is best used with hypothyroidism as it tends to increase thyroid function by stimulating the gland. (Winston 140)
It Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
Not only does this wondrous root help the thyroid, it truly supports much of the endocrine system. That being said, it supports the pancreas by increasing the secretion of insulin, which means our blood sugar levels are more easily balanced.
As with everything, there are some precautions to take before beginning to use ashwagandha. It may interact with some medications such as immunosuppressants. It may enhance sedative effects of some barbiturates. It is not recommended for pregnant women. It is also not recommended for those who are hyperthyroid. Other than these minimal restrictions, ashwagandha is quite a safe herb to take regularly.
This herb is truly a super herb, along with all of the greatness mentioned above, ashwagandha is strongly anti-inflammatory, it is restorative after chemo-therapy, it’s anti-parasitic, and energetically, it is very grounding. The mechanisms of the actions above are not all fully understood, but through thousands of years of use and observation, Ashwagandha has rightfully made its way to center stage.
Want to give this wonder herb a shot? Try Ashwagandha in our Stay Golden - Golden Milk Herbal Powder and let us know what you think about it in the comments section below!
Sending Love & Light,