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15 January 2020
Ashwagandha (derived from the powdered root of the Ashwagandha shrub) – the Indian Ginseng that promises good health and the power to deal with stress.
Ashwagandha has become increasingly popular as a revered medicinal plant known to strengthen those who are burnt out and tired and calm those who are anxious. This incredible herb is full of amazing properties that have been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years to help increase the body’s resistance to physiological and psychological stress, making it perfect for those faced with the constant bombardment of modern life.
There are many reasons you may want to start implementing this amazing herb into your daily supplement routine. Below are a few of my reasons for using it.
• Boosting energy levels, strength, and vitality
• Calming the mind and supporting mental processes
• Encouraging healthy sleep
• For improving thyroid function (Ashwagandha is known to improve Graves disease and Hashimotos)
• For reducing stress and boosting the body’s resilience to stressful situations
• For stabilizing blood sugar levels and correcting insulin resistance
• For treating adrenal fatigue
• Supporting a healthy immune system (Ashwagandha is known to increase four different immune system cells and boost immune cell activation)
• Supporting a healthy reproductive system for both men and women
• Supporting healthy joints and spine
As I mentioned before, Ashwagandha is one of the few herbs known to directly influence the thyroid and can help those with underactive or overactive thyroid issues by bring the body back into balance. It has been shown to boost a sluggish thyroid by increasing T4 (thyroxine) and greatly reducing lipid peroxidation by protecting the body against free radicals.
It’s as if the herb knows if things are too high or too low and brings them back into balance. This is what makes Ashwagandha so unique.
One of the reasons I’ve been taking Ashwagandha powder is for its unmatched ability to restore healthy adrenal function and helping me heal the effects of chronic fatigue.
The hormone responsible for controlling the body’s stress response is known as cortisol or the “stress hormone”. When the adrenals become overworked because of recurrent stressful events in our lives like sitting in traffic, work, school, finances, and other personal situations, the adrenals keep us in a constant state of “fight or flight”.
This overabundance of physical, mental, and emotional stress can lead to adrenal fatigue and even adrenal burnout where cortisol levels flatline and you feel like a zombie all day. If this becomes chronic, other hormones in the body become imbalanced as a result which can create all sorts of havoc. It had been shown time and time again that taking Ashwagandha rebalances cortisol levels and other hormones during times of stress whether it is physical, mental, or emotional.
It goes without saying that continued periods of emotional, mental, or physical stress can have a debilitating effect on the brain and nervous system. In order to keep stress from causing mental fatigue, brain fog, and cloudy thoughts, it’s important to consume plenty of free radical fighting foods in our diets. Since most people have trouble getting in their daily recommended servings of fresh fruits of vegetables, it’s more important than ever to try and fill the gaps with superfoods that are rich in anti-oxidants.
Ashwagandha is not only an effective stress reliever, it also protects the brain from degenerating diseases like Alzheimer’s, Depression, Anxiety, and other mental disorders. It’s high content of anti-oxidants protect the brain from lipid peroxidation that cause our mental fortitude to decrease, just supplementing for just 20 days has shown significant improvement in mental health and positive mood.
As I mentioned in brain health, Ashwagandha is also an effective treatment for anxiety, nervous exhaustion, and depression since it works as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor, thereby increasing the availability of the neurotransmitter dopamine (the happiness chemical in the brain). It also seems to mimic the action of GABA, a neurotransmitter known to relax the body and clear the mind.
Ashwagandha also relaxes the blood vessels and instills an overall feeling of comfort and well-being allowing for stress and tension relief., so supplementing with 300mg of Ashwagandha powder for 12 weeks has been shown to improve symptoms of anxiety, stress, and reduced focus while also reducing chronic fatigue without the side effects of anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications.
Ashwagandha is an excellent herb for increasing stamina and boosting endurance during exercise and other forms of physical activity by reducing muscle aches and pains and sharpening our focus, allowing for better reaction time. It hones concentration and working memory, encourages motivation, energizes the brain, and lowers stress hormone levels. Taking Ashwagandha extract has been shown to balance the hormones involved with physical activity, sore muscles and joints, and keeping energy levels consistent. This makes it a great supplement for athletes.
If you’re someone who often feels tired and run down but struggles to get a good night’s sleep, then Ashwagandha may be just the herb you need. Ashwagandha both strengthens and calms the nervous system which over time can naturally restore a healthy sleep cycle and even relieve stress-induced insomnia and anxiety and since Ashwagandha is a calming adaptogen, it will not overstimulate people with anxious constitutions and will therefore decrease anxiety, nervousness, and stress while soothing the nervous system as a whole.