Spotlight on Ashwagandha, an Adaptogen for Stress Relief

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Ashwagandha for Stress Relief, Brain Health and DepressionMaybe you’ve heard of Ashwagandha before; perhaps it is a staple in your diet, or maybe, like a vast majority, you’re not even sure how to pronounce it. Ashwagandha and other adaptogenic herbs and medicinal mushrooms have gained attention in recent years, and for a good reason. Despite what the dust, potions, and tonics across your social media feed may lead you to believe, adaptogens are far from a recent trend. Ayurveda medicine, a 5,000-year-old system, uses Ashwagandha to help restore the body to balance. Use Ashwagandha for Stress Relief, Brain Health, and Depression

What is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is an adaptogen that is a natural, fresh root ground for consumption. It is a fine, light-to-medium brown colored, powder. Ashwagandha is 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 ashwagandha 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.” Ashwagandha 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.

Ashwagandha for Stress Relief

The psychological benefits of Ashwagandha 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 Ashwagandha 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 Ashwagandha for 60 days decreased stress in participants by 28%. Furthermore, other trials have shown the herb’s ability to combat depression, lower blood pressure, promote sleep and cure sleep disorders like insomnia, and treat adrenal fatigue.

Ashwagandha for Brain Health and Depression

Ashwagandha can boost cognitive functioning in several ways, which explains why ayurvedic practitioners use it for patients with depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Ashwagandha 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, Ashwagandha 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.

Ashwagandha 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 Ashwagandha in supplement form, YouVeda My Health Mood kit contains Ashwagandha and other uplifting herbs that work synergistically to provide complete support.

Author – Marissa Cohen (YouVeda Wellness Contributor)

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