The Complete Guide to Ashwagandha
Ayurvedic medicine, developed more than 3,000 years ago in India, is a natural, holistic approach to healing. With a goal of maintaining the balance between body and mind, this traditional form of medicine tends to promote overall health rather than fight a specific disease. The healthier we are, after all, the less susceptible we are to various illnesses and ailments.
While ashwagandha has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years, it’s a relatively recent addition to the mainstream world of supplements. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits and uses of this powerful herb.
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha, or “Withania somnifera,” is a non-toxic herb native to parts of Asia and Africa. While ashwagandha is most widely known for its ability to relieve stress and anxiety, it can also address a range of conditions ranging from psychological to physiological.
Also called “Indian ginseng” or “winter cherry,” ashwagandha is part of a group of plants called adaptogens—plants and mushrooms that help the body’s response to stress and overall function.
While it is possible to use them in their raw form, adaptogens are typically ingested as teas, powders, tinctures, or other forms of dietary supplements (like gummies).
Ashwagandha Health Benefits
Researchers are continuously learning, but with several promising studies done in humans and animals alike—not to mention a few thousand years of continued use in humans—it’s safe to say that ashwagandha offers a variety of health-boosting benefits.
For example, ashwagandha can:
Relieve Stress & Anxiety
One of the most well-known health benefits of ashwagandha is its ability to relieve stress and anxiety. In fact, a few different studies have shown that people consistently taking ashwagandha supplements have lower perceived stress levelsand lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone).
Mental health and physical health go hand in hand; there is a direct correlation between long-term stress and chronic health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and fibromyalgia.
By reducing stress and anxiety levels with ashwagandha, we have a better chance of maintaining health in the long term.
Enhance Athletic Performance
Ashwagandha can enhance athletic performance in a few different ways: increasing muscle strength, optimizing oxygen consumption, and boosting heart health, for example.
Some individuals have also reported that taking daily ashwagandha supplements results in better sleep. Some have even found that ashwagandha can give them a significant energy boost. While that extra energy may be due to the above-mentioned benefits rather than the ashwagandha itself, it’s certainly a nice perk!
Sharpen Cognitive Function
Brain fog? Ashwagandha may be just what you need.
Researchers have found that ashwagandha has compounds with antioxidant properties, which can benefit cognitive health by improving memory, attention span, and reaction times.
Researchers are currently examining the ways in which ashwagandha can be used to slow or stop the progression of conditions such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.
Ashwagandha may have anti-inflammatory properties, making it a potential form of treatment for those with some forms of arthritis. Some have also reported pain relief as a substantial benefit of taking ashwagandha supplements.
…and this isn’t even an exhaustive list of ashwagandha’s health benefits! Ashwagandha has also been shown to decrease blood sugar levels, improve sexual function in women, and boost fertility and testosterone levels in men. It may even be helpful for treating certain types of cancer.
How to Use Ashwagandha
Currently, there is no official, standard dosage amount for ashwagandha—the right amount for an individual depends on how and why they’re using it. That said, dietary supplements tend to contain between 250-1500 mg of ashwagandha.
Long story short: less is more. If you’re just starting out with ashwagandha supplements, start with small amounts, gradually increasing your dosage if your body responds well.
Taking too much ashwagandha can be counterproductive. Not only may your body be unable to absorb the entirety of a large dose, but overdoing it could lead to not-so-fun digestive issues such as vomiting and diarrhea.
Check your local grocery store, pharmacy, or health food store for ashwagandha supplements. It’s typically found in the form of capsules, powders, tinctures, teas, and gummies—such as Go Organic’s signature Ashwagandha Gummies.
It is possible to add the raw form of ashwagandha to food recipes, but note that high heat can cancel out all of those important benefits. If you want to incorporate ashwagandha directly into your food, try mixing ashwagandha powder directly into a smoothie or sauce instead.
Before adding any new vitamins or supplements to your diet, it’s always good practice to talk to your doctor first. This is especially important for those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or immunocompromised.
Please note that ashwagandha may potentially weaken the effects of current medications, so talk to your doctor to gain a better understanding of how or whether you can fully reap the benefits of ashwagandha.