Ashwagandha is a powerful adaptogenic herb that has been used for thousands of years to help reduce stress and promote balance in the body. In this article, we’re sharing the history and benefits of ashwagandha for stress, hormones, and inflammation.
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is an herb that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. The rough translation of ashwagandha is “the smell and strength of a horse,” which points to its traditional use to support a healthy libido and vitality.
The ashwagandha plant itself is a small green evergreen shrub with velvety leaves, bellflowers, and orange berries. Although the herb is native to the Indian subcontinent, it also grows in parts of Africa and can even grow in Western North Carolina.
In Ayurveda, ashwagandha is considered a rasayana, a rejuvenating tonic, or a plant that promotes longevity, happiness, and vitality. Rasayanas are traditionally tonics that support overall wellbeing, memory, vitality, and hormonal function. Ashwagandha root is dried and ground and often consumed as a warm beverage before bedtime.
In Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha is used to balance Vata in the body, which is associated with air. When Vata energy is balanced, the body experiences healthy joints, skin, weight, cognitive function, and nervous system—one of the great ashwagandha benefits for women.
As an adaptogen, ashwagandha provides a balancing effect to the body, helping to nourish stress response and support energy and stamina.
Overall, the herb can be defined as grounding, calming, and restorative and is frequently recommended to those who are tired and wired.
- Helps to adapt to stressful conditions (1)
- Supports cardiovascular and immune health
- Support the nervous system and endocrine system (2, 4, 6)
Benefits of Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha has many benefits, as we will learn. Many herbalists and functional doctors recommend supplementing with ashwagandha for 2 to 3 months, which is long enough to reap the benefits. While you can take ashwagandha longer, it’s important to remember that they are part of a holistic approach and never in place of doing all the things that will allow you to experience optimal health.
Support Nervous System
The nervous system is vital for overall health and wellbeing; it impacts every feeling, decision, breath, and experience.
The Ayurvedic herb provides the body with rich antioxidants, helping to naturally support the GABA brain pathways responsible for maintaining muscle tone and calmness. It is also considered a nootropic herb that promotes healthy cognitive function, creativity, and energy (8).
Furthermore, ashwagandha also helps regulate cortisol levels and curtail an overactive adrenal response. This is why it is known to be one of the best supplements for supporting or reversing adrenal fatigue.
Stress and Anxious Feelings
Ashwagandha is one of the most popular herbal recommendations for those who are under a great deal of stress. Whether its financial pressures, work deadlines, the constant streaming of negative news, or chronic stress from societal pressures—our bodies are overworked and under-appreciated.
When we are chronically stressed, we negatively impact our nervous systems. A natural way to promote a healthy cortisol release and inflammatory response is to include ashwagandha in your daily routine. Healthy cortisol levels positively impact cortisol levels—helping them stay balanced and helping you become more resilient to stress. Another bonus of healthy stress levels is healthy reproductive organs, joints, immunity, muscles, and cognitive function.
As we’ve learned above, a healthy adrenal response has a positive impact on our endocrine system. Our body produces cortisol from the same precursors used to make reproductive hormones. When our body is under stress, it will produce cortisol instead of progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone. Because ashwagandha helps to maintain healthy cortisol levels and regulate stress, the body can free up resources for reproductive hormone production.
Studies show that ashwagandha root can support occasional stiffness, joint pain, swelling, and discomfort. Its anti-inflammatory effects are thought to be because ashwagandha has been shown to naturally mitigate C-reactive protein levels, a systemic marker for inflammatory response.
Ashwagandha is known for its rejuvenating and grounding properties, and several studies show that it can support healthy sleep. We owe this to the root’s natural ability to restore and nourish the adrenal glands, which have a big effect on sleep patterns.
(2,3 4, 5, 7)
Ayurveda believes that ashwagandha is one of the best herbs to support healthy immune system function. One animal study found that ashwagandha strengthened the mice’s immune system by promoting an increase in white blood cells. 22
Incorporating ashwagandha into your wellness routine may be a good idea for a natural way to support heart health. One study found that ashwagandha promoted healthy triglyceride and cholesterol levels, which are major factors in stroke and heart attacks.
The group who took the highest dosage of ashwagandha extract experienced an average of 17 percent decrease in LDL (bad) cholesterol and an 11 percent decrease in triglycerides.
The same study found that ashwagandha provided the heart with powerful antioxidant support, which may protect it against free radicals in the blood.
Additionally, ashwagandha’s powerful anti-inflammatory properties may be able to help the heart work more efficiently.
Ashwagandha is a popular adaptogen found in many products that help target stress, anxiety, and overall health. Whether you’re looking for natural energy support or help regulating your nervous system, including ashwagandha in your daily routine can help.
We love this adaptogen so much, we recommend it to a lot of clients! Because of the amazing results we’ve seen, we wanted to take it up a notch.
We are so excited to share with you that we have created a supplement line with only the best of the best ingredients—and ashwagandha is one of them.
Our Beauty Collagen Complex formula was created to help fight free radicals, clear skin, nourish hair, strengthen nails, and slow aging. Yup, it’s that good. When formulating this product, we knew we needed to include ashwagandha. As you’ve learned, ashwagandha works to balance the stress response, which is crucial to help slow aging!
To learn more and get your Beauty Collagen Complex, go here!
- Winston, David and Maimes, Steven. “Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief,” Herbal Therapeutics. Rochester, Vt: 2007.
- Auddy, Biswajit, et al. J Am Nutraceutical Assoc1 (2008): 43-49
- Andrade, Chittaranjan, Aswath A, et al. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 2000, 42 (3), 295-301.
- Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, & Anishetty S. Indian J Psychol Med, 2012 Jul-Sep; 34 (3): 255-262.
- Mahdi AA, Shukla KK, Ahmad MK et al. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Volume 2011, article ID576962, 9 pages. Doi: 10.1093/ecam/nep138.
- Mishra, Lakshmi-Chandra, Betsy B. Singh, and Simon Dagenais. “Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha): a review.” Alternative Medicine Review4 (2000): 334-346.
- Raut, Ashwinikumar, et al. “Exploratory study to evaluate tolerability, safety, and activity of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in healthy volunteers.” Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine3 (2012): 111.
- Singh N., Bhalla M., de Jager P., & Gilca M. “An overview on Ashwagandha: A rasayana (rejuvenator) of Ayurveda.” Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. (2011) 8(S):208-213
- Withania somnifera Dunal (Ashwagandha): A Promising Remedy for Cardiovascular Diseases.https://idosi.org/wjms/4(2)09/17.pdf
- 12 Proven Health Benefits of Ashwagandha.