It may seem that you’re in constant search of that all-natural cure to health and longevity. From tonics and elixirs to teas and powders to diet and exercise to mindful practices, most likely you’ve tried an assortment of the “remedies” available.
While these are all excellent pieces to the healthy living puzzle, they are just that, pieces.
What if there was an herb — or a classification of herbs — that covered the “whole-body health” list? Sound a bit interesting? You may be a fan of some of the most ancient medicinal practices on Earth — Ayurveda and Traditional Chinses Medicine (TCM). These practices offer valuable resources for those that find modern medicine has failed them. And one of the most potent ancient medicinal remedies available is an herb called ashwagandha.
Known as a treatment for an assortment of ailments — such as arthritis, constipation, anxiety, stress, gastrointestinal issues, skin conditions, memory loss, fevers, and insomnia, to name just a few — ashwagandha can simply be used to boost overall health and wellbeing!
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is an ancient medicinal herb used for thousands of years to treat a variety of ailments. It’s classified as an adaptogen — which means it helps the body deal with stress — yet it’s also incredibly beneficial for your brain, blood sugar, cortisol levels, energy levels, and has even been found to help fight anxiety and depression.
Where does Ashwagandha come from? This herb — also referred to as “Indian ginseng or winter cherry” — is harvested from an “evergreen shrub that grows in India, the Middle East, and parts of Africa.”
This specific herb is integral to Ayurveda — one of the oldest forms of alternative medicine based on Indian principles of natural healing that dates back at least 3,000 years. In fact, many argue that ashwagandha is the most important herb in the practice, heightening its relevancy around the world as well.
While ashwagandha hasn’t exactly been a hot commodity in the Western World, due to an increase in holistic and alternative health practices, this herb is now surging in popularity. This means you can find it in a variety of easy-to-ingest forms such as supplements, teas, raw dried herb, potent “health” mixes, or even powders to add to shakes, smoothies, or for cooking.
With that said, before integrating ashwagandha into your diet, it’s always recommended to consult your chosen health practitioner first for guidance!
Health Benefits of Ashwagandha
If you’re looking for more of a reason to get on board with ashwagandha, this is where you’re really going to want to pay attention. There are a handful of health benefits linked to this ancient adaptogen. Most of them center around our central nervous system, yet there are a few surprises in the list as well! Here are a few of the most notable health benefits of incorporating ashwagandha into your diet.
1. Reduces Cortisol Levels
You’ve probably heard cortisol being called “stress hormone” and that pretty much sums it up! Cortisol is a hormone that is released by your adrenal glands in response to stressors. It’s also released “when your blood sugar levels get too low.” For some people, cortisol levels can “become chronically elevated, which can lead to high blood sugar levels and increased fat storage in the abdomen.”
Ashwagandha has a powerful influence on your cortisol hormone and “studies have shown that [this herb] may help reduce cortisol levels.” Even for those that don’t have chronically high cortisol levels, ashwagandha can be boon for your central nervous system in managing this hormone.
2. Helps Reduce Anxiety and Stress
One of the most popular reasons to incorporate ashwagandha into your diet is due to anti-anxiety powers! Anxiety is a prolific issue in our society “affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.”
The anxiety-reducing powers of ashwagandha are two-fold: decreasing anxiety, while also regulating and decreasing stress. In studies, ashwagandha has been found to regulate “chemical signaling in the nervous system,” thereby balancing stress reactions. Other “controlled human studies have shown that it can reduce symptoms in people with stress and anxiety disorders,” including those with chronic stress and anxiety conditions.
3. Increases Muscle Mass
This is a surprising benefit of this adaptogen.
Research has “shown that ashwagandha may improve body composition and increase strength.” Certain studies specifically looked at muscle gain versus fat reduction and found that “those who took ashwagandha had significantly greater gains in muscle strength and size … [while also] more than [doubling] their reductions in body fat percentage.”
4. Reduces Inflammation
Chronic inflammation — due to diet, lifestyle, stress, medical conditions, and/or diseases — has been revealed as a major causal factor in a variety of health conditions from gastrointestinal issues to metabolic disorders to autoimmune diseases and even some cancers.
Ashwagandha, on the other hand, has been shown to reduce inflammation!
In human studies, ashwagandha has been found to “increase the activity of natural killer cells, which are immune cells that fight infection and help you stay healthy.” On top of that, studies have also discovered that ashwagandha may also “decrease markers of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein (CRP).”
5. Improves Brain Function
Last, but definitely not least, is the effect of ashwagandha on your noggin’!
While ancient traditional uses of ashwagandha tell us that this herb has positive effects on memory loss, more current research has shown that it “may mitigate memory and brain function problems caused by injury or disease.” Researchers link this to the high “antioxidant activity” of ashwagandha “that protects nerve cells from harmful free radicals.”
Dangers of Ashwagandha
While ashwagandha is deemed safe for most people, it’s always a good idea to know what the side effects may be and why those side effects manifest.
When it comes to consuming ashwagandha, it’s all about dosage and personal health conditions.
For instance, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and people who have “autoimmune diseases should … avoid ashwagandha unless authorized by a healthcare provider.” Specifically, those with conditions such as “rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and type 1 diabetes.” Plus, those with blood sugar and blood pressure issues will want to contact their doctor first as ashwagandha has been shown to decrease levels of both of these.
In short, make an appointment to discuss your chosen ashwagandha supplement before beginning. All of our bodies are different and require a curated medicinal approach!
If you’re looking to get your hands on ashwagandha for your kitchen, there are a few ways to go about it! The easiest way to get your daily dose of this miraculous adaptogen is via supplements. Make sure to go with an organic and vegan variety for the highest-quality! With that said, ashwagandha powder can be added to your favorite smoothie or morning oatmeal. Plus, you can end your day with a soothing cup of ashwagandha tea!
1. ORGANIC INDIA Ashwagandha Supplement
Supplements are truly the easiest way to get some of the most necessary nutrients. With that said, the Federal Drug and Administration’s regulation of supplements is pretty lax, therefore it’s up to you as a consumer to look for indicators of a trustworthy brand.
This ORGANIC INDIA Ashwagandha Supplement is vegan, non-GMO, Kosher and Halal Certified, and has been created from USDA-certified organic herbs cultivated on sustainable, organic farmland.
These are all great indicators that this supplement is clean and trustworthy. If a company goes through the rigamarole to become USDA-certified organic, Kosher and Halal Certified, and source only vegan products, then they’re in the game to keep the consumer safe! A 90-vegan capsule bottle costs $28.99.
2. Amazing India USDA Certified Organic Ashwagandha Powder
If you’re more of a morning smoothie or oatmeal person, you may want to consider integrating a clean, potent ashwagandha powder into your daily ritual. The same guidelines go for health powders as they do supplements. You, the consumer, must be on your toes about safety of the product!
This Amazing India USDA Certified Organic Ashwagandha Powder is vegan, raw, USDA-certified organic, third-party tested, gluten-free, and promises purity and potency. Plus, Amazing India promises this product to be free of artificial colors, preservatives, and flavors. A 16-ounce tub costs $19.99.
3. KOS Organic Ashwagandha Powder
KOS is a great brand that offers a wealth of organic and vegan supplements for reasonable prices. This KOS Organic Ashwagandha Powder hits all the marks as the rest of their products! It’s plant-based and vegan-friendly, non-GMO, USDA-certified organic, produced in a GMP facility, plus, it’s allergen-friendly meaning it’s been made without soy or gluten! A 12.84-ounce tub costs $18.99.
4. Zokiva Nutritionals Organic Ashwagandha Tea
As ashwagandha is an herb, you can also find a variety of tea options. Enjoying a warm glass of ashwagandha tea either in the morning or to end your day is a great way to infuse your body with a slightly less potent form of this wonderful herb.
This Zokiva Nutritionals Organic Ashwagandha Tea is caffeine-free, gluten-free, and contains 100 percent pure ashwagandha root. On top of that Zokiva Nutritionals promises their tea to be free of artificial ingredients and loaded with those powerful adaptogenic healing agents, antioxidants, and plant-based vitamins and minerals. A 30-packet bag costs $10.95.
5. True Veda Organic Ashwagandha Capsules
Another great option for your ashwagandha supplement! These True Veda Organic Ashwagandha Capsules are 100 percent vegan, USDA-certified organic, and free of artificial ingredients, preservatives, fillers, or binders. True Veda also takes into consideration allergens as their capsules are free of egg, milk, lactose, gluten, wheat, soya, and peanuts. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that these supplements are actual award-winning through a 14-year development process that delivers full-spectrum root extract. A 60-vegan capsule bottle costs $19.97.
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