Spotlight on Ashwaghanda


Maybe you’ve heard of ashwaghanda before; maybe it is a staple in your diet; or maybe, like a large majority, you’re not even sure how to pronounce it. Ashwaganda and other adaptogenic herbs and medicinal mushrooms have gained attention in recent years, and for good reason. Despite what the dusts, potions, and tonics across your social media feed may lead you to believe, adaptogens are far from a recent trend. Ashwaghanda has been used in Ayurveda medicine, a 5,000-year-old system, to help restore the body to balance.

What is Ashwaghanda?

Ashwaghanda is an adaptogen that is found in nature as a fresh root that is ground for consumption. It is a fine, light-to-medium brown colored powder. Ashwaganda can be extracted from the plant’s root or its leaves. Leaves, unlike the root, contains high levels of Withaferin A, which is toxic to cells in high doses. For this reason, it is best to use ashwaganda powders or supplements extracted only from the roots.

The term “adaptogen” was first defined by a Russian pharmacologist to mean “agents which help an organism counteract any adverse effects of a physical, chemical or biological stressor by generating nonspecific resistance.” Ashwaganda helps the body achieve homeostasis and fight fatigue. If you are feeling depleted, it can deliver energy, but, conversely, if you are overstimulated it can have a calming effect. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and is specifically beneficial for helping the body cope with physical and mental stress.

Ashwaghanda for Stress Relief

The psychological benefits of ashwaganda make it especially useful in today’s world. An estimated 31.1% of Americans experience anxiety at some point in their lives. Anxiety disorders range in their intensity, but, when left unaddressed, they can become crippling or lead to more severe mental and physical illnesses. Using ashwaganda is a great way to manage stress from the outside world and minimize the effects of the cortisol stress response in the body. One study found that consistently taking ashwaganda for 60 days decreased stress in participants by 28%. Furthermore, other trials have shown the herbs ability to combat depression, lower blood pressure, promote sleep and cure sleep disorders like insomnia, and treat adrenal fatigue.

Ashwaghanda for Brain Health and Depression

Ashwaganda can boost cognitive functioning in several ways, which explains why it is often used in patients with depression and Alzhemier’s disease. Ashwaganda boosts serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in emotional and mood regulation. Low serotonin levels are linked to depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. By helping achieve adequate serotonin levels, ashwaganda can bring relief to those suffering from mood disorders. Furthermore, it helps regenerate brain cells and reconstruct synapses, the nerve endings where cells communicate with one another. As a result, the ability to learn, memorize, and recall information is enhanced.

Ashwaganda is a powerful herb that can benefit those hoping to achieve overall balanced health or overcome a specific condition. Try incorporating the powdered form into your daily tea, tonic, or smoothie. If you would rather consume ashwaganda in supplement form, YouVeda My Health Mood kit contains ashwaganda and other uplifting herbs that work synergistically to provide complete support.

Author – Marissa Cohen (YouVeda Wellness Contributor)

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