Updated: Mar 15
Withania somnifera, Ashwagandha
What are Herbal Adaptogens?
Adaptogens are a unique group of herbs used to improve the functioning of the adrenal system. They help strengthen the body's response to stress and enhance its ability to cope with anxiety and fight fatigue, slowly and gently. They’re called adaptogens because of their unique ability to ‘adapt’ their function according to the body’s specific needs.
Ashwagandha - a nurturing, calming herb for stress, anxiety and modern-day living
Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera, fam. Solanaceae), commonly known as ‘Indian Winter Cherry’ or ‘Indian Ginseng’, is widely used in Ayurvedic medicine as a Rasayana for its wide-ranging health benefits. A Rasayana is described as a herbal medicine that promotes a youthful state of physical and mental health and expands happiness.
Ashwagandha is one of my favourite herbal adaptogens and has a very restorative and nourishing effect on the nervous system. It is great for those people who are suffering from signs of anxiety, panic attacks, and stress-induced insomnia. It is the perfect antidote in stressful times.
It is also great for those people suffering from extreme fatigue with anxiety where other adaptogens such as Panax Ginseng can be too stimulating. I find I can prescribe it to the most depleted patient and within a couple of weeks they will start to feel much better. It is great for the mother rushing around after young kids but equally beneficial for perimenopausal and menopausal times in a woman’s life when tiredness and anxiety can be a real struggle.
In a recent clinical study, people complaining of high amounts of mental stress were given 300mg of Ashwagandha root extract twice a day for 60 days. Test scores for physical-related stress symptoms (like fatigue) dropped by 76%, compared to only a 4.9% reduction in those taking the placebo. In the Ashwagandha group, there was also a 70% reduction in anxiety and insomnia scores, a 69% reduction in social dysfunction scores, and a 79% reduction in depression scores, compared to reductions of only 11.6%, 3.7% and 10.6% respectively, in the placebo group.
K Chandrasekhar, J Kapoor and S Anishetty (2012) A Prospective, Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of a High-Concentration Full-Spectrum Extract of Ashwagandha Root in Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Adults Indian J Psychol Med. Jul-Sep; 34(3): 255-262 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3573577/
Ashwagandha is ideal for those who have experienced chronic stress, as the thyroid gland is often affected and they may show signs of subclinical hypothyroidism. It enhances the conversion of the inactive form of thyroid hormone T4 into the active form T3 and therefore increases energy levels.
I hope you've enjoyed this introduction to Ashwagandha. If you are feeling the pressures of modern life in any way then you too could benefit from the support of this incredible plant (and others). Get in touch to discuss creating a beautiful bespoke herbal blend to support you and your health and wellbeing goals.
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