The world has recently discovered the wonderful effects of the ancient ayurvedic herb ashwagandha. From relieving stress to bringing energy, this powerful herb can now be found across the globe. Here is a guide that explains what this herb is, how it benefits you and how it can be used.
What is Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha or Indian ginseng is an evergreen shrub that grows in India and other parts of Asia. Withania somnifera, as it is scientifically named, is an adaptogen, a class of herbs that help your body cope with varying levels of physical, biological and chemical stress. It works by altering the body’s stress response system, helping you stay energized yet relaxed at the same time.
What Ashwagandha can do for you
With increasing research world over, more and more people are waking up to the health benefits of taking Ashwagandha as a supplement. Here is a look at how Ashwagandha can help you.
As an adaptogenic, Ashwagandha inhibits or lowers both Adrenalin and Cortisol production in the body. These are the hormones that the adrenal glands secret as a response to stress, and are responsible for the fight or flight response. Normally though, the body’s stress response is temporary, soon these hormones return to their base levels and the body resumes normal functioning.
In the modern world though, people feel constantly under stress, and therefore the spike in these hormones lasts much longer, leaving behind long term damage in its wake.
This is where Ashwagandha can help. By lowering stress hormones it helps ease the physiological response to stress, allowing the body to function normally.
Boost brain function & improve energy
Ashwagandha also acts as a neurotransmitter, and improves blood flow to the brain, helping you feel calm yet energized. By sending more oxygen to the brain, it makes you feel more alert.
Ashwagandha increases the white blood cell count in the body, thereby boosting the body’s immune system, helping fight off infection and illness. Moreover, ashwagandha is a great source of antioxidants, and helps the body fight cellular aging and oxidative stress.
In fact, a recent study by Portland medical researchers found that Ashwagandha when mixed with milk had a significant effect in boosting the body’s immune response.
(* in case citation is required https://nunm.edu/2008/08/clinical-research-supports-effectiveness-of-ashwagandha-to-boost-bodys-immunity/)
Helps regulate blood sugar
Constant exposure to cortisol, due to chronic stress, can make the cells of your body resistant to insulin. Moreover, as a response to stress the cells release more glucose into the blood steam hence raising blood sugar levels. By limiting the body’s stress response and lowering cortisol production, Ashwagandha helps lower blood sugar levels and hence can be very beneficial to diabetics.
Helps regulate blood pressure
The cortisol released in the body due to stress, increases the heart rate as well as blood pressure as part of preparing the body for the ‘fight or flight’ response. Chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure or hypertension. Ashwagandha helps lower blood pressure by lowering the cortisol production in the body, thus putting less strain on the heart. Regular use of Ashwagandha is thought to bring a significant decrease in blood pressure levels, and it is due to this that Ashwagandha is not recommended for those with low blood pressure.
Being a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, Ashwagandha assists in cellular regeneration, and slows down the aging process.
How can it be taken
According to Ayurveda, Ashwagandha is best taken with hot milk, as milk acts as a delivery agent in helping the body better absorb its nutrients. Popular mixes such as Turmeric Latte contain Ashwagandha along with Turmeric, black pepper and other powerful spices, giving you a delicious way to consume this potent herb.
Ashwagandha can also be taken as over the counter tablets, powders or even in the form of supplement gummies.