· By Ashley Heeley
Ashwagandha: What it is and why you should be taking it
What it is and why you should be taking it
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is one of the most celebrated herbs in Ayurveda, the earliest practice of medical science. It grows in Asia and Africa and has been cultivated in many of India’s dry regions for centuries where its roots are powdered and made into a tonic. The root’s strong horse-like odour gives it its name: ashva being the Sanskrit word for horse, and gandha meaning smell. According to legend, upon consumption, the individual harnesses the power of a horse.
Ashwagandha belongs to a branch of Ayurveda called Medhya Rasayanas which essentially refers to a group of herbs aimed at specifically targeting cognitive function and mental health. Ashwagandha is classed as an adaptogen, meaning it has proven beneficial in restoring equilibrium when the body is under stress - like the name suggests adaptogens can adapt to the needs of the individual to stabilize stress hormones once they are released. After all, this magical herb has not only been used for treating mental wellness, the paste formed when its roots are crushed is traditionally applied topically to reduce inflammation of the joints.
What are its benefits?
Ashwagandha works with the body to resist the impacts of mental and physical tension. When under stress we release cortisol and adrenaline, ashwagandha contains active plant chemicals that help calm the brain and rebalance those hormones. It has been found to reduce anxiety and enhance the body’s resilience to stress over time. As a result, it can be used in the prevention and treatment of stress-related health impacts such as hypertension, premature ageing, depression and stress-induced weight gain.
As mentioned earlier, ashwagandha is classified as a Medhya Rasayana herb, intended to improve cognitive function over time. A number of studies have revealed ashwagandha to enhance the function of the brain and improve memory, and evidence suggests it can be used in the treatment and even prevention of Dementia and Alzheimers. Not to mention, those suffering from brain strokes and compromised memory after a head injury can also benefit from the Cognition Promoting Effect of ashwagandha.
Because tension triggers inflammation and pain in the body it does not come as a surprise that the stress-relieving properties of ashwagandha help to resist and prevent the impacts of inflammation. Ashwagandha can reduce swelling, aiding in recovery and stamina. Its anti-inflammatory properties have also shown effectiveness in clinical cases of Rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis.
Ashwagandha contains antioxidant properties that protect the body against free radicals, in turn, this prevents cellular damage and disease. It is believed that improved energy levels and immune health can be attributed to the effects of ashwagandha, which has been proven to increase white blood cell count and function. When your body is relieved from stress it can focus on fighting disease and speeding up recovery.
Should I be taking ashwagandha?
Increasing individualism and a hustle culture have no doubt contributed to a number of stress-related health conditions that exist most prominently in the western world. Stress directly affects our eating habits; temperament; blood pressure; skin; breathing; muscles and immune system - to name a few! The consequences of this can lead to serious health conditions ranging from the most severe such as heart disease and cancer, to that which we may all experience at points during our lifetimes like anxiety, insomnia and migraines.
While it is true that we are all living longer lives, it is without a doubt that many of us may be overworked, under pressure and living with tension. Ashwagandha is a safe and natural way to manage stress-related health impacts. As we continue to live well into our old age, it is important to prevent age-related decline for as long as possible. Ashwagandha’s proven effectiveness in balancing stress hormones; improving the longevity of cognitive function; pain relief; improving immunity, and reducing inflammation, make this Indian household remedy a suitable supplement for those of any age*.
Where can I get my hands on ashwagandha?
Its root powder has been used for centuries in Ayurveda - applied topically and added to drinks and drank as a tonic. In recent years it has been sold in capsule or powder form available as a supplement in most health stores.
Hippie Turtle Herbal Co’s Active powder contains 200mg of ashwagandha in each serving. The Active powder has other bioactive ingredients such as curcumin and Bioperine that work alongside ashwagandha to reduce inflammation and joint pain. Taking up to two servings per day can reduce inflammation which is at the core of numerous ailments, as well as provide all the other benefits of ashwagandha as specified above.
For those who also enjoy the benefits of CBD, Hippie Turtle Herbal Co Focus Oil is a cold-pressed oil containing 5g of ashwagandha per bottle. Consistent and regular doses of CBD and ashwagandha equal a dream combination for long-term stress-relief in a natural and healthy way.
*Do not take if pregnant or breastfeeding. If you have an existing health condition, are on medication, or undergoing surgery, then always consult a doctor before taking ashwagandha.