Throughout history, ashwagandha has been known as one of the most important herbs in Ayurvedic medicine. The name Ashwagandha means “the smell of a horse” in Sanskrit, which is fitting as many believed the plant would provide strength, vitality and stamina of a horse. It is a powerful herb that has been used for thousands of years and can restore physical, mental and emotional balance in the body.
Although the leaves and the berries of the plant have been shown to have some beneficial effects, the roots offer the most active constituents that have been used traditionally in Ayurvedic food preparations, teas, tinctures and powders
Ashwagandha and Stress
Stress often gets a bad rap, but it is an important component to our survival. Nowadays, stressors look much different and happen much more frequently than they ever did before. Chronic stress can become problematic and can lead to unbalanced cortisol levels. Unbalanced cortisol levels can lead to a variety of imbalances and health concerns. Ashwagandha has the ability to create balance as a whole, which is why it is critical to our health, especially during times of stress!
Ashwagandha is considered an adaptogen which means it has the ability to support the body’s response to stress and promotes balance. Adaptogens are always working behind the scenes to ADAPT within the body according to one’s specific needs. Think of an adaptogen like a thermostat. When the thermostat senses that the room temperature is too low, it brings the temperature up, and when the temperature is too high, the thermostat cools the room back down.
Other ways ashwagandha supports overall health:
Supports thyroid health: Ashwagandha can directly impact and balance the thyroid gland and its critical thyroid hormones, therefore supporting energy levels, metabolism and overall health.
Improve Mood: Because Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, it balances cortisol levels and balances the nervous system, especially when in a fight or flight. Ashwagandha has the ability to increase the body’s resistance to stress.
Brain and cognitive health: Ashwagandha has the unique ability to promote mental alertness and fight fatigue. Ashwagandha has the ability to support your body where there is a need and can be used in the morning for energy and mental clarity or in the evening to unwind and relax.
Supports the immune system: By supporting the body as a whole, ashwagandha also has the ability to support and balance the immune system. Ashwagandha has also been known to increase red and white blood cell counts in those that are immune depleted.
Improve Sleep: One of the major contributing factors to any sort of sleep issue is stress. Ashwagandha supports our normal diurnal cortisol patterns, and therefore promotes energy during the day and restful sleep at night.
Energy & Strength: Ashwagandha has beneficial effects on mitochondrial health and therefore is believed to increase energy. It’s antioxidant properties also help to combat free radical damage in the muscles promoting a faster recovery between physical activity sessions.