Recently, I’ve been getting really interested in herbal medicine and supplements. As the pandemic continues to present new variants every couple of months, I want to make sure I am keeping myself as healthy as I possibly can. Although I’ve heard of it before, something that just came across my radar is ashwagandha.
Ashwagandha has been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine and wellness routines. The powerful adaptogen is said to help with anxiety, mood, stress, inflammation, immunity, muscle building, and deeper sleep. Some of my friends in Los Angeles (and many coffee shops there, for that matter) have even started subbing their coffee for this additive, claiming it makes them feels healthier and more prepped for the day.
But what exactly is ashwagandha, what are the benefits, and how often do you have to use it to feel it?
So, like, what is ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is a nontoxic herb, most known for its ability to modulate stress and anxiety. Found in Ayurveda, (the traditional medicine of India), it treats insomnia and all other forms of anxiety and stress.
Fact: Less stress yields to lower cortisol levels—managing better blood sugar control. Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, similar to the ones found in powders, supplements, and teas. Also known as Indian ginseng—or its scientific name, Withania somnifera—ashwagandha is a herbal shrub with roots and berries. Below are 6 benefits people find from consistent use of consuming the powerful adaptogen.
Health benefits of ashwagandha
Improves total sleep
Best known for its ability to diminish or completely dissolve stress, ashwagandha can benefit sleep quality that has been impacted by racing thoughts and utter stress.
Ashwagandha also helps men with their reproductive system, by improving sperm quality and rebalancing reproductive hormone levels.
Lowers blood sugar and fat
There have been various studies and clinical trials that proved ashwagandha to be instrumental to reducing blood glucose levels and triglycerides (the most common type of fat in the blood).
Better memory and focus
Ashwagandha helps improve the ability to perform motor responses, after instruction and memory.
Increases muscle and strength
In addition, ashwagandha has been known to improve strength and muscle size, and even lower the body fat percentage and cholesterol levels. This is definitely something you should incorporate into your fitness routine.
Supports heart health
Another tip for all the athletes out there: Ashwagandha can increase VO2 max levels (the maximum amount of oxygen you take in while physically exerting yourself). These are the tools used to measure how well the heart and lung delivers oxygen to muscles during physical activity. If your VO2 max levels are high, your heart is healthy and strong enough to performs well under those circumstances.
Cool, are there any negative risks?
Ashwagandha is a safe and nontoxic plant, but there are certain things you should think about before you add it into your lifestyle.
- Do you take other medications? If so, let your doctor know that you started something new, as ashwagandha mixed in can either enhance or weaken their effects.
- Don’t overdose. Experts recommend 300 milligram doses of ashwagandha. Anything larger can trigger unwanted side effects, like dizziness, vomiting and diarrhea.
- Always know where your ashwagandha comes from: Check the source of your herbs, especially if you’re buying in supplement form. Make sure the company or brand you selected has the right certifications and practices.
If you’re looking for alternative ways to help manage your anxiety, check this out.
Photo via Wikipedia