Discover the benefits of Ashwaganda
Have you tried ashwagandha? You may have already heard your friends raving about this herb, but what does it actually do? This Ayurvedic herb has been traditionally used in India for centuries and its popularity has seen it spread around the world. That’s probably got a lot to do with ashwagandha’s stress-relieving properties - something many of us could use!
Here’s everything you need to know about how this popular herbal medicine could benefit you, shared by Erika Bass.
What is ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha, also called withania, winter cherry or Indian ginseng, is a shrub which has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine in India since 6000 BC. Its root is used in Ayurvedic medicine as an adaptogen, which helps the body to cope with stress.
The Sankskrit word ashwagandha literally translates to ‘smell of a horse’, and this herb is thought to traditionally give the ‘power of a horse’ when consumed in traditional Ayurvedic medicine as a rejuvenating tonic.
Why is everyone talking about ashwagandha?
Fun fact - India consumes over 100 metric tons of ashwagandha every year, making it one of the most used herbal medicines in the country. And for good reason. The epidemic of stress and mild anxiety symptoms doesn’t exist in India alone. Worldwide, people are looking to the herbal world for ways to help cope with stress, and to relieve stress and mild anxiety symptoms.
How can ashwagandha help me?
As the interest in ahwagandha increases, so does the research into its benefits. The research shows that this adaptogenic herb can be taken to help the body to adapt to, or cope with, stress. It’s thought to do this through its ability to reduce stress levels. Most importantly, ashwagandha is known to reduce the symptoms of both stress and mild anxiety.
What herbs can be used alongside ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is often taken with many other herbs, some of which include polygala, citrus peel, poria mushroom, holy basil and magnolia.
Polygala is a popular herb used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to reduce symptoms of mild anxiety, restlessness and irritability. In TCM, polygala is traditionally known for calming both the mind and the spirit, also known as shen.
Another herb to look out for to combine with ashwagandha is citrus peel, which is traditionally taken in Chinese medicine to improve digestive weakness, and regulate qi (or life force energy) to relieve abdominal bloating and fullness, nausea and excessive burping.
Wondering what else you can do to reduce stress? Try these easy tips
- Talk it out: Chatting to trusted loved ones and/or a health professional such as a GP, counsellor or psychologist, is beneficial in times of increased stress
- Exercise your body: If you need a pick-me-up, exercise is an excellent tonic. Moderate-to-strenuous activity is best for boosting your levels of feel-good hormones, but even a brief walk may help to lift your mood or calm your stress. As a general rule, aim to get at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week.
- Train your brain: Meditation is an important part of the picture when it comes to reducing stress levels. Walking meditation, guided meditation, classes, visualisation and meditation apps for your phone are all equally beneficial
- Mindful nutrition: Look after yourself by sticking to a nutritious, balanced diet based on fresh fruit and vegetables, good sources of protein such as chicken, fish, legumes and nuts and seeds, a variety of whole grains and healthy fats such as omega-3s from oily fish, chia and flaxseeds, and walnuts
- Things to avoid: Avoid stimulants and mood-altering substances, including caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and recreational drugs. Despite giving you a buzz in the short-term, they often lead to a slump or ‘crash’ later
Feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders? Life can get the better of all of us all sometimes. If your usual stress management techniques are not quite cutting it, a little extra herbal support from ashwagandha could do the trick!
References available on request.
Erika Bass is Technical Support team leader at Fusion® Health. She has over a decade of experience in the natural health industry, and a particular passion for helping women look and feel their best.