Osh-wa-GON-duh! Why is this herb awesome, and why might it help me?
Coming from my own experience and observations, ashwagandha, prepared properly, has helped me sleep oh so much better. When you sleep better, a chain reaction is released in the body. You obviously wake up more refreshed feeling, your liver can more effectively filter your blood (ridding your body of toxins), and reduce the risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke and…and…and basically sleep=good for you. Who knew, right? I don’t think I need a special degree to prove that.
So ashwagandha helps you sleep, as do other herbs and methods. So why this one? Well, the list is impressive, and we all like to be impressed.
- Improves thyroid function
- Treats adrenal fatigue
- Reduces anxiety and depression
- Combats the effects of stress
- Increases stamina and endurance
- Prevents and treats cancer
- Reduces brain cell degeneration
- Stabilizes blood sugar
- Lowers cholesterol
- Boosts immunity
- Helps improve concentration
- Increases energy
- Improves learning, memory, and reaction time
- Reduces anxiety and depression without causing drowsiness
- Contains anti-malarial properties
- Enhances sexual potency for both men and women, oh la la!
Do we need more? Of course we do. In the remainder of this article I’m going to talk about ashwagandha as an Ayurvedic herb and its roll in aiding thyroid and adrenal health.
Ashwagandha as an Ayurvedic Herb
Ashwagandha means “the smell of a horse” in sanskrit. Charming, am I right? This indicates that the herb imparts the vigor and strength of a stallion. Ashwagandha is generally prescribed for people getting over an illness to promote the immune system, according to the Chopra Center.
Here’s a little of what Ayurveda has to say about this herb gem:
It is energetically BITTER, ASTRINGENT, SWEET/HEATING
Reduces Vata and Kapha, has a neutral response to Pitta, and can increase Ama (in excess) <–to find your Vata/Pitta/Kapha Dosha visit my favorite >>Ayurvedic Quiz<<.
Ashwagandha affects the muscles, fat, bones, marrow, nerves, and reproductive tissues of the body and acts as a tonic, rejuvenative, aphrodisiac, nervine, sedative, and astringent.
Do I want to Take Ashwagandha?
Here are some reasons you might want to consider Ashwagandha as your daily herb of choice:
- general debility
- sexual debility
- multiple sclerosis
- glandular swelling
- nerve exhaustion
- loss of muscular energy
- emaciation of children
If you’re planning on taking Ashwagandha for long term use, make sure you’re matching the qualities and energetics (cold/hot, cool,warm etc) to you unique constitution. If you need help doing this, book an Herbal Consultation here.
I’d like to take this moment to say, once more, that I’m not a doctor. I’m presenting very general and basic knowledge of an herb that you can find by checking out a book from your local library or doing a little research on the Internet. If you’re considering taking this herb, and especially if you are pregnant or breast feeding, then please talk with your doctor and general health practitioner to see if Ashwagandha is for you.
Ok, I want to use Ashwagandha, but how?
How much to take is up to each individual or your Ayurvedic practitioner. The Yoga of Herbs (one of my favorite books by the way!) recommends 250mg-1g of powdered Ashwagandha in boiled milk with a smidge of honey, in a paste, or in medicated ghee or oil.
I personally make mine in boiled coconut milk as our dairy in American unfortunately has Casein A-1 proteins (uhhh, maybe more on that later). Dr. Axe recommends 1000mg per day, but I PERSONALLY think that’s too much, especially for you Kaphas out there. I use an 8th tsp for myself and forgo the weight measurements. Most times that’s enough to knock me out with the spectacular benefit of dreamless sleep. The key to Ashwagandha is daily intake of the dosage that works for you and your Dosha/body type.
As for Thyroid/Adrenal Health
Ashwagandha is considered an adaptogenic herb. It balances the teeter totter whether it’s low or high. This herb is taken on a regular basis to aid in the balancing of hormones. Studies show that it can support hypo AND hyper-thyroidism, Graves and Hashimoto’s (actually, those are autoimmune disorders that end up attacking the thyroid). And that’s the glory of an adaptogen!
Ashwagandha has been shown to reduce lipid peroxidation (think anti-oxidants). It does this by scavenging for free radicals that cause cellular damage. Interestingly, you can get the same free radical scavenging effect by walking around barefoot outside, but this herb is tasty and you don’t have to wash your feet afterward.
In this study “findings reveal that the ashwagandha root extract stimulates thyroidal activity and also enhances the antiperoxidation of hepatic tissue.” (raises T3/T4)
In this study it “prevented increase in adrenal weight and decrease in ascorbic acid and cortisol content of adrenals during stress. It appears to induce a state of non-specifically increased resistance (SNIR) during stress.”
I encourage you to do your own research. You can use Google Scholar to search for peer reviewed articles. And note that if you’re using an herbalism book to research any herb, make sure that it’s a guide written by a practicing herbalist. There are thousands of years of anecdotal information passed down and a practicing herbalist will have the background and experience to know what they’re talking about!
Annnd in closing! If you like this post or know someone who might benefit from this “educational and in no way attempting to prescribe medication in anyway” post, then share the love by clicking the little ‘f’ button at the bottom to share on Facebook!
Frawley, David, and Vasant Lad. The yoga of herbs: an ayurvedic guide to herbal medicine. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press, 2008. Print.
Panda, S. and Kar, A. (1998), Changes in Thyroid Hormone Concentrations after Administration of Ashwagandha Root Extract to Adult Male Mice. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 50: 1065–1068. doi:10.1111/j.2042-7158.1998.tb06923.x
Withania Somnifera (Ashwagandha), a Rejuvenating Herbal Drug Which Enhances Survival During Stress (an Adaptogen)
N. Singh, (Mrs.) R. Nath, (Miss) A. Lata, S. P. Singh, R. P. Kohli, and K. P. Bhargava
International Journal Of Crude Drug Research Vol. 20 , Iss. 1,1982