The Benefits of Ashwaghanda
Ashwaghanda has been used since ancient times in India and South East Asia.
Its’ benefits are derived from the ability to combat stress as well as support the central nervous system. When combined with other herbs, the effects can be even greater.
Ashwagandha, also known as Winter Cherry (Withania somnifera), is commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine, and is becoming increasingly well known in the West.
It has been shown to be a safe yet powerful plant medicine which can counter-balance the stresses of modern life.
The roots and berries have been used for a wide variety of purposes.
Perhaps the best known and most important uses are as an adaptogen and nerve tonic.
It is also considered important for its’ rejuvenative and anti-ageing qualities.
An Adaptogenic Herb
In Ayurveda, specific herbs are recognized for their adaptogenic benefits. Adaptogens are combinations of chemicals (amino acids, vitamins, and herbs) that modulate your stress response or reaction to a changing environment.
Adaptogens help the body cope with external stresses such as toxins in the environment and internal stresses such as anxiety and insomnia as well as any stress-related disorders.
Vitality and rejuvenation
Throughout history, Ashwagandha has been associated with strength, vitality, recovery and rejuvenation. Ashwagandha is typically prescribed to people recovering from an illness, those who are low on energy, or experiencing occasional sleeplessness.
It is commonly used to bring the body into a state of balance and vitality.
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Traditionally, ashwagandha has been prescribed for conditions such as failure to thrive in children, weakness and debility in old age, rheumatism, constipation, insomnia, nervous conditions, stress, goiter, joint inflammation, parasites, hormone balance, and more. A paste made from the ashwagandha root powder applied topically to treat boils, ulcers, and other skin irritations and infections.
Ashwagandha is known to help strengthen the immune system after illness, chemotherapy, or surgery. It is a highly effective, evidence-based remedy to help reduce stress levels and anxiety—by lowering cortisol levels and mimicking the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA.
It is not however recommended for pregnant women as it may trigger early delivery
A Stress-Relieving Nerve Tonic
Double-blind studies have been conducted which show promising results concerning the efficacy of Ashwagandha in reducing stress.
Concentrated extracts of Ashwagandha root were found to balance levels of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone, to a noticeable level compared to those who weren’t taking it. Similar to the Ayurvedic literature, clinical trials have shown that Ashwagandha can have a noticeable, calming influence on those under stress.
Ashwaghanda may have cognitive benefits
Importantly, the idea of using a single herb (more common in the West) is almost unknown in Ayurveda. Instead practitioners recommend a combination of plant medicines to achieve targeted effects. This allows the synergistic qualities of different phytochemicals to achieve maximum effect.
In Ayurvedic medicine, Ashwagandha is also used to support memory. It has been shown to improve learning, memory, and reaction time, reduce anxiety and depression without causing drowsiness and help reduce brain-cell degeneration.
Combining Ashwaghanda with Gotu Kola – another important Ayurvedic herb – is considered to be far more effective in terms of relieving stress and improving the nervous system than using ashwaghanda on its own.
If you are experiencing symptoms such as insomnia, memory loss, poor mental performance or anxiety then you may like to try this combination of ashwaghanda and gotu kola.
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