When it comes to wellness, one of the best indicators that something is truly good for you is when modern science endorses a practice or substance that’s been used in ancient medicine for generations. This is certainly the case for ashwagandha, and the benefits of ashwagandha have long been touted by both eastern healers and western doctors.
Essentially, ashwagandha is an herb that comes from the nightshade family — along with common vegetables like tomatoes and potatoes. Sometimes called “Indian ginseng,” this herb is an adaptogen, meaning it holds powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-stress qualities. The name can be translated as “smell of the horse,” in reference to its ability to boost strength and energy.
So what exactly can you expect from incorporating this potent herb into your Ayurvedic routine? We’ve put together a list below of some of the top benefits of ashwagandha, and suggestions for how to integrate it into your diet.
Reduce Stress and Inflammation with Ashwagandha
As a recognized adaptogen, ashwagandha can aid your body in handling stress and anxiety. It does this by helping to reduce cortisol in your body. Cortisol is a stress hormone that is released by the adrenal glands in response to stressful situations.
In addition to being released in response to external stimuli, however, some people naturally produce excess cortisol, leaving them in an elevated state of anxiety on a daily basis. By supplementing your diet with ashwagandha, you can help balance your cortisol levels, leaving you feeling calmer and less stressed.
With lower levels of cortisol in your body also comes improved sleep, and a decrease in inflammation. Studies have suggested that ashwagandha may be tied to greater production of immune cells in the body that help fight infection and keep you feeling healthy. As an added benefit, less stress and more sleep also has a positive impact on your skin, and will foster a healthy, glowing complexion.
Improve Your Memory with Ashwagandha
While ashwagandha has myriad benefits for you to tap into, one of the herb’s traditional Ayurvedic uses is for improving memory, concentration and focus. Considered by modern medicine to be and nootropic herb, ashwagandha provides antioxidant properties that protect nerve cells from free radicals and stimulate neurotransmitter pathways in the brain.
Some studies have also suggested that taking an ashwagandha supplement on a daily basis could potentially improve your attention, task performance and general memory. With ashwagandha’s stress-reducing benefits taken into account, it may also improve reaction time to stimuli and help you maintain a calm, balanced mental state throughout the day.
Build Muscle and Improve Your Strength with Ashwagandha
Not only is ashwagandha beneficial for your emotional and mental health, it has also been traditionally used to help build strength by increasing energy for peak physical performance. Studies suggest that ashwagandha supports healthy body composition and muscle gain by creating an anabolic reaction in the body. The herb can also increase gains in muscle strength and size, and supports healthy joints — a particular point of concern for avid runners.
Ancient Ayurvedic wisdom has incorporated this knowledge of ashwagandha for centuries, as the herb is considered a rasayana, or rejuvenating food. This is due to ashwagandha’s ability to rejuvenate the deep tissues of the body, while calming and supporting the overall nervous system.
Reap the Benefits of Ashwagandha in Your Daily Life
No matter what benefit you’re seeking, ashwagandha is a simple, natural approach to your health. In a typical Ayurvedic practice, you can mix ½ teaspoon of ashwagandha powder into ½ cup of room-temperature water to drink as a tonic between meals.
A more modern approach is to mix the powder into smoothies, beverages or your cooking, but the easiest way to incorporate it into your routine is with YouVeda’s My Healthy Mood or My Healthy Body supplement kits. Both of these doctor-formulated and recommended supplements feature organic ashwagandha to support either a balanced emotional state or improved physical performance, and they are tridoshic — meaning they can support any combination of doshas.
So how are you going to reap the benefits of ashwagandha today?
Author: Alexandria Baker (YouVeda Wellness Contributor)