I’ve been seeing Ashwagandha in many different supplements and protein powders lately, and have been asked by numerous people what this herb is. This herb has been used for centuries as a cure for a wide variety of conditions, but it’s most well-known for its restorative benefits; strengthening the immune system after an illness.
Ashwagandha is a shrub that belongs to the same family as the tomato, and produces fruits about the size of a small raisin. While the leaves and fruit can have many therapeutic properties, ashwagandha is most often used for its root. It’s a very important herb in Ayurvedic medicine so you will find it in many different Ayurvedic products.
This herb has many specific adaptogenic benefits which help modulate your body’s natural response to a changing environment or stressful environment. These specific substances (called adaptogens) that ashwagandha contains, helps the body cope with these external responses (as listed) and internal stresses such as insomnia and anxiety. Other than helping us cope with insomnia, anxiety, and stress, it has many other benefits and healing effects.
The Health Benefits of Ashwagandha
Supports memory and learning: In Ayurvedic medicine, this herb is widely used as a memory enhancer. Here are some links (1, 2, 3) to a few studies that discuss how this works and how it may prevent memory loss. A few animal studies also show that it helped with cognitive abilities when rats were sleep deprived.
Can stabilize blood sugar: There are some studies that link ashwagandha helping stabilize blood sugar levels in those who suffer from diabetes and those who are generally healthy
Offers anti-inflammatory benefits: Some studies have linked this herb to helping us produce natural killer cells in our bodies that help fight off infection and inflammation. It may also help us activate our immune cells but further study is needed.
May lower cholesterol: What happens when we drink too much, eat too much red meat, eat too many processed foods and generally don’t really give a sheet about what we put in our body? Our cholesterol rises and then we are at a higher risk for heart health problems. Well, these studies (1, 2) have suggested that ashwagandha may help lower bad cholesterol levels in the body.
Can reduce cortisol and help manage anxiety: Cortisol is the hormone we release when we are stressed out, and it does a number on our mind and body. Studies have linked ashwagandha to helping us manage cortisol levels when we are stressed. It has also been linked to help us manage anxiety. A very interesting study
using 64 people who were experiencing chronic stress, subjects took ashwagandha for 60 days and reported to experience a reduction by 69% in anxiety and insomnia. The placebo group only experienced an 11% decrease.
May help increase muscle mass: These three studies (1 , 2, 3) link it to helping us experience an increase in strength, performance and recovery. So when it comes to incorporating it into your fitness routine, I will from time to time add it to my protein smoothie.
There are various ways that you can incorporate Ashwagandha into your day. There are powdered supplements, Ashwagandha tea, and the dried root that you can use in tonics and elixers. When it comes to dosage, if you incorporate powdered Ashwagandha into your morning smoothie, 1-2 tsp suffices. We recommend as always to consult your physician before ever experiencing with a new herb or supplement.
Here are some Ashwagandha brands that I’ve done a bit of research on and would suggest you look into if you want to learn more!