Should I take Ashwagandha?

This is a question that I hear very often, so here it is : everything you wanted to know about Ashwagandha, its uses and benefits, so you can make an informed decision about whether it is for you.

The purported health benefits of this plant have led to its popularity in Western countries such as the United States. In many different forms, it is extensively advertised as a topical remedy or food supplement.

If in doubt, always ask your naturopath or herbalist, they know how your body works and will help you with any supplements or herbs that would be benefit your health.

What is Ashwagandha ?

As a well-known adaptogenic herb, ashwagandha, often referred to as Withania somnifera, can help strengthen your body’s resistance to stress and anxiety.

In Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha is an age-old medicinal herb that has been used for generations to promote energy, reduce stress, strengthen the immune system, and enhance concentration, among other benefits.

It has been increasingly popular in recent years and is well known for its many health benefits.

Health benefits of taking Ashwagandha

 Stress reduction

Being an adaptogen, ashwagandha aids the body’s ability to adjust to stimuli. It might lower cortisol levels, which are a sign of stress, and encourage serenity. It has the ability to lessen the activity of your body’s hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which controls your stress response. It also aids in weight gain brought on by stress.

 Anxiety and depression

According to certain research, ashwagandha may reduce anxiety and treat depression by influencing neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and GABA.

That said, ashwagandha might not be sufficient to address your worries if you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

 Improved sleep quality

Demonstrated research has proved that ashwagandha enhances the quality of sleep by lowering anxiety and encouraging calmness. Ashwagandha may be a useful natural medicine to enhance sleep and mental alertness upon rising, according to recent research. In those who suffered from sleeplessness, the effects were more noticeable. While ashwagandha doesn’t induce drowsiness, it can be an important component of a comprehensive plan to promote higher-quality sleep.

 Boosted immune system

Due to its immunomodulatory qualities, ashwagandha helps maintain the equilibrium and regulation of the immune system. It boosts the activity of immune cells such as macrophages and natural killer cells, which are vital for identifying and eliminating infections. Ashwagandha suppresses the overabundant immune response, hence preventing immune reactions that cause inflammation. Ashwagandha promotes immunological equilibrium, which aids in the body’s defence against infections and maintenance of health.

Anti-inflammatory properties

Excellent immuno-boosting effects on our immune system have also been established by Ashwagandha. Research indicates that it stimulates immune cells that fight disease and reduce inflammation, thus aiding in the prevention of illness. Ashwagandha is particularly helpful for painful illnesses like arthritis because of its strong anti-inflammatory qualities.

Cognitive function

Preliminary studies indicate that Ashwagandha may improve brain function, memory (immediate and general), attention span, reaction time, the ability to perform tasks and cognitive abilities because of its antioxidant properties.

Sexual health / Fertility enhancement

Traditional use of Ashwagandha includes enhancing sexual vitality in both men and women by improving libido and fertility.

Balanced blood sugar

Evidence suggests that ashwagandha may have some benefits for people with diabetes or  high blood sugar levels that can  reduce blood sugar levels through its effects on insulin secretion and cells’ ability to absorb glucose from the bloodstream.

Boosted athletic performance 

Extensive research has shown that ashwagandha can have positive effects on athletic performance. Benefits include increased muscle strength and size, and enhanced oxygen uptake during exercise, which makes it a worthwhile supplement for athletes. It is also worth adding that higher lung capacity  is associated with a lower risk of heart disease.

How to take Ashwagandha?

For optimal effects, take ashwagandha regularly, around the same time every day. It should not be taken empty-handed, particularly if you are prone to stomach pain.

Its powder has a unique taste, which might make it difficult to drink. A straightforward and efficient method involves preparing a warm beverage by combining a quarter to half a teaspoon of ashwagandha powder with your preferred warm vegetable milk (almond, coconut, or oat milk). For sweetness, you can also add a teaspoon of vanilla extract, cinnamon, cocoa powder, or raw honey. As an alternative, consider incorporating ashwagandha into your morning oatmeal or smoothie.

When to take Ashwagandha ?

Ashwagandha powder in milk is a great option if you want to help your body and mind unwind before bed. Try taking it about half an hour before bed. If you want to use it to support your immune system, reduce inflammation, or improve your athletic performance, you can choose to take it in the morning right after breakfast together with other supplements.

The health benefits you seek will determine the ideal time. It will improve your ability to concentrate in the morning, make you feel more at ease, and less anxious during the day. You will gain from the calming effects in the evening, as it will aid to balance your nervous system and promote restful sleep.

Your naturopath will advise you on the best course of action for your particular body.

Is Ashwagandha good for everybody?

Ashwagandha is generally safe for consumption. Just like taking any herbal supplement or medication, using it in combination with some medications may result in drug interactions. It is not recommended to take ashwagandha when pregnant or while nursing a child. Before adding any more herbal supplements to your programme, it is best to consult with your naturopath or herbal medicine practitioner.

Will I notice the effects immediately ?

The effects of ashwagandha might not be felt right away, depending on the form you’re taking—powder, tincture, elixir, pills, or capsules.

Although the time it takes for ashwagandha to start functioning varies from person to person, most users start to see advantages after using it consistently for a few weeks. But it’s recommended that you take an ashwagandha supplement on a regular basis for at least 6–8 weeks to get the optimum benefits.

Since the powder form absorbs the quickest and is easiest for the body to use, that is how I mostly prescribe it. Your herbalist’s custom blend of herbs consistently yields the greatest and fastest results.

Before taking any supplements, be sure you utilise the recommended dosage and that they are safe for you by seeing a healthcare provider.

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