An Easy Guide to Ashwagandha: Everything You Need to Know
Stress can be a normal part of life, but it is important to know the difference between common everyday stress and chronic stress. In our modern, hectic world of stress and work overload, if we do not manage chronic stress correctly it can lead to bad outcomes for our mental health. That is why so many people turn to Ashwagandha as a comprehensive nutritional foundation to help.
Read more to learn everything you need to know about the popular Ashwagandha supplement to see if you should consider adding it to your nutritional regimen.
What is Ashwagandha?
As a powerful herb, Ashwagandha has been used for thousands of years to help people feel their best. It is part of the ancient medical practice, Ayurveda, a natural and holistic approach to health that originated in India.
Its name in Sanskrit translates to "the strength and smell of a horse." The name implies the powerful effects of this herb that support vitality. People also relate it to the power and vigor of a horse.
Natural Source of Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha originates from a plant that has the scientific name of Withania somnifera. It is a short evergreen shrub that features leaves with a velvety surface and bellflowers that produce orange berries.
The plant is native to dry areas of India, Sri Lanka, Africa, and Pakistan. It needs a temperate climate for it to fully grow. Today, the Ashwagandha plant is being farmed all over the world as manufacturers seek to harvest it in its freshest form - although a lot of it is still sourced from India.
It is best to find a trusted manufacturer that is careful with the production process. A knowledgeable producer of Ashwagandha supplements knows that the plant's root is to be harvested in the fall season when the plant contains the highest number of phytochemicals.
What Does Ashwagandha Do?
What is Ashwagandha good for? Well, with over 4,000 years of history, Ashwagandha has been used to promote the body's healthy stress response. Because of similar effects, this plant is often called the “Indian Ginseng," but it is not related to the Ginseng species.
Cortisol is a hormone that can get out of balance when our bodies have a poor stress response. Ashwagandha helps provide the body with energy, stamina, and support to regain balance from stress. The feelings most users report after taking ashwagandha include:
Because Ashwagandha works to promote the healthy balance of different systems of the body, it is considered to be an adaptogen. This means that it must meet the following criteria:
- Be non-toxic
- Helps the body adapt in order to decrease and manage stress
- Benefits overall health
Ashwagandha meets all of the criteria mentioned above, which is why it has become a popular choice for health practitioners that seek to support the body naturally.
This small but mighty adaptogenic herb has built a reputation as a triple threat in terms of the different ways Ashwagandha can support your health. According to findings from a variety of clinical studies on this topic, Ashwagandha can positively impact your mind and body in the following ways:
Findings from a 2012 clinical study suggest that large doses of Ashwagandha may improve resistance to stress
Findings suggest Ashwagandha may be able to improve thyroid functionality
Findings suggest Ashwagandha may be able to improve your cardiorespiratory system
Let's take a look at the health benefits of Ashwagandha in more detail below:
As mentioned earlier, the stress hormone called cortisol is related to the body's stress response. This hormone is released through the adrenal glands that trigger the "fight or flight" response.
Cortisol plays an important role as the body goes through the wake and sleep cycle. It rises in the morning to help us get up and go, and it decreases in the evening when our bodies need to prepare for rest and restoration.
Since we are bombarded with stressful situations throughout the day, our cortisol levels can go out of balance and we can experience a feeling of burn-out or being overwhelmed. This feeling can affect many aspects of our physiology including digestion, sexual drive, and immune response. Stress is at the base of various medical conditions that affect our mood, cardiovascular system, brain, musculoskeletal system, and just about all functions of the body.
Along with relaxation techniques and good nutritional habits, when you supplement with Ashwagandha, your body can balance cortisol easier and manage the inflammatory processes that result from stress.
Ashwagandha Side Effects
Although not common, people who take Ashwagandha may experience the following side effects:
- Digestive upset
These side effects tend to occur when Ashwagandha is taken excessively and causes irritation of the mucosa of the GI tract.
Clinical studies suggest an appropriate daily dose of 125mg may help decrease cortisol levels. Taking higher levels may further help promote a healthy sleep pattern. It is wise to consult your physician when starting any supplement. Since all individuals are unique, it is best to start with the lowest possible dose and work your way up from there.
Ashwagandha For Men
Men feel their best when they have healthy levels of testosterone. Ashwagandha helps achieve this by supporting a man's endocrine system. In addition, athletes or those involved in physical activity can benefit from Ashwagandha by being able to recover quicker.
Ashwagandha For Women
Women may also benefit from taking Ashwagandha, which promotes a healthy hormonal level. Since Ashwagandha supports the endocrine system, women experience a healthier system when on this supplement.
Ashwagandha Uses Among Professionals:
Professionals in various fields can incorporate Ashwagandha into their practices to enhance the well-being of their clients. Here are some ways in which professionals in different fields can utilize Ashwagandha:
Health professionals, including doctors and therapists, can recommend Ashwagandha as a natural remedy for managing stress-related symptoms. They can educate their patients about the benefits of Ashwagandha in balancing cortisol levels and reducing inflammation caused by stress. By incorporating Ashwagandha into treatment plans, health professionals can help their patients achieve better overall health and well-being.
Yoga instructors can integrate Ashwagandha into their classes and workshops to enhance the relaxation and stress-reducing effects of yoga practice. They can educate their students about the adaptogenic properties of Ashwagandha and its ability to support the body's response to stress. By suggesting Ashwagandha supplementation or incorporating it into herbal teas, yoga instructors can further support their students' journey to inner peace and balance.
Dermatologists can incorporate Ashwagandha into their skincare recommendations for patients struggling with stress-induced skin conditions. Ashwagandha's anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce skin redness and irritation caused by stress. Dermatologists can suggest topical products containing Ashwagandha or recommend oral supplementation to support healthy skin from within.
Nutritionists can educate their clients about the benefits of Ashwagandha as a dietary supplement. They can recommend incorporating Ashwagandha into smoothies, teas, or other recipes to help manage stress and promote overall well-being. Nutritionists can also advise on the appropriate dosage and potential interactions with other medications or supplements, ensuring their clients use Ashwagandha safely and effectively.
By incorporating Ashwagandha into their practices, professionals in different fields can provide holistic support to their clients' physical and mental health. Ashwagandha's adaptogenic properties and ability to balance cortisol levels make it a valuable addition to various treatment plans, helping individuals manage stress and improve their overall quality of life.
The Ashwagandha plant has been used for thousands of years as a natural remedy to help manage the symptoms of stress. When taking Ashwagandha, you may experience a boost in energy and immune function, helping support your sleep, vitality, and mental health. Ashwagandha has stood the test of time as an effective supplement worth exploring.