Ashwagandha has become one of the most popular Ayurvedic herbs used in the West. With its dual capacity to energize and calm at the same time, it has become the go-to supplement to promote physical and emotional well-being.
The word Ashwagandha translates into “smell of a horse”; this is a reference to both its unique smell and a reference to the vigor and strength of a stallion as it has traditionally been prescribed to help people strengthen their immune system after an illness. (It is also an inference to a traditional use of ashwagandha to support a healthy male reproductive system).
Used by Ayurvedic doctors for thousands of years as a rasāyana (rejuvenative) and an adaptogenic herb — substances (a combination of amino acids, vitamins, and herbs) that moderate your response to stress or a changing environment. These herbs help the body cope with external stresses such as toxins in the environment and internal stresses such as anxiety and insomnia. Because of these effects, Ashwagandha is frequently referred to as “Indian ginseng” even though botanically, ginseng and Ashwagandha are unrelated.
Researchers have been studying Ashwagandha for years, completing more than 200 studies investigating its healing benefits. Here is some of what they've been able to prove:
- Protects the immune system
- Helps combat the effects of stress
- Improves learning, memory, and reaction time
- Reduces anxiety and depression without causing drowsiness
- Helps reduce brain-cell degeneration
- Stabilizes blood sugar
- Helps lower cholesterol
- Offers anti-inflammatory benefits
- Contains anti-malarial properties
- Enhances sexual potency for both men and women
In India Ashwagandha is also believed to help improve scalp circulation and strengthen the hair, as well as help get rid of dandruff. It also appears to stimulate production of melanin, the pigment responsible for the colour of your hair, and slow hair loss.
If this list isn't enough, there is now evidence that Ashwagandha is effective at treating both anxiety and depression. In fact, in a recent study its results were comparable to common pharmaceutical drugs lorazepam and imipramine without the side effects.
In the 12-week controlled study, 87 participants with anxiety were given 300mg of Ashwagandha two times a day or two placebo pills two times per day. The group treated with Ashwagandha resulted in much greater improvements in anxiety as well as focus, reduced stress, and decreased fatigue than the placebo group. (This statistic is taken from Dr. Axe)
It truly is one of the most comprehensive, potent herbs we can use to support our day-to-day business and a personal favorite to use with clients and in my Herb-Infused Ghee found here!