Herbal remedies have been providing wellness benefits to users for thousands of years. And one of the most popular herbs used throughout the rich history of herbal medicines is ashwagandha.
The roots of this flowering plant play a vital role in Ayurveda, a traditional form of alternative medicine originating in India.
Ashwagandha is revered for its potential wellness benefits, including its role in soothing feelings of stress, supporting brain function, and maintaining energy levels and libido.
You can learn about this unique herb and how to incorporate it into your wellness journey right here at The Brothers Apothecary!
What Is Ashwagandha?
Also known as the winter cherry or Indian ginseng, ashwagandha is a small and flowering evergreen shrub. The botanical name for ashwagandha is Withania somnifera from the Solanaceae or nightshade family.
Ashwagandha grows in India, Southeast Asia, parts of the Middle East, and parts of Africa. Most commonly cultivated during springtime in India, Nepal, China, and Yemen, ashwagandha thrives in partially shaded dry and stony spaces.
The ashwagandha plant produces small yellow flowers and bitter reddish-orange berries. However, the root of the ashwagandha plant is most commonly used in herbal remedies and teas, although you may also use the ashwagandha leaves and flowers.
Studies have found that ashwagandha extracts can contain over 30 unique chemical compounds, providing insight into how this herb can provide wellness benefits.
The name ashwagandha comes from the Sanskrit words “ashva” and “gandha,” which means “smell of the horse.” This name refers to both the energy-stimulating effects of the herb and its uniquely distinctive smell (don’t worry, we’re covering ways to balance out the strong aromatic flavor profile below).
What Forms Does Ashwagandha Come In?
You can find ashwagandha in powder, tonics, and dietary supplements such as pills or capsules. Typically, the ashwagandha root is dried and ground into a powder, which you can incorporate into tablets or drinks. The dried ashwagandha root can also be steeped in boiling water to create a wonderfully soothing tea.
What Does Ashwagandha Taste Like?
The flavor profile of ashwagandha consists of three main tastes: Tikta (bitter), Katu (pungent), and Madhura (sweet).
As a whole, ashwagandha has an earthy flavor like soil. While some understandably find this taste overwhelming, it is easy to mellow out ashwagandha tea with milk, honey, or warming spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, or turmeric.
Many ashwagandha capsules, such as our Mental Clarity capsules, are nearly tasteless, providing all of the many benefits of ashwagandha without bitterness.
What Else Is Ashwagandha Used For?
Ashwagandha is used in many cultures to help support the body’s natural response to stress, maintain energy levels, calm the mind, support a healthy libido, and support the body’s immune response.
What Are the Health Benefits of Ashwagandha?
While more research is needed to understand exactly how ashwagandha works within the body, many consider this plant an adaptogenic herb.
Adaptogens are thought to support our body’s natural response to environmental stressors. Adaptogens can help support our well-being in many ways by supporting how our body handles stress.
Helps Soothe Feelings of Stress
Feeling stressed or overwhelmed is a well-known — though rarely enjoyable — part of the human experience.
In small spurts, stress does serve a useful function. When we are in danger, the adrenal glands produce higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which alerts the rest of the body to the danger and creates a physiological response: the fight or flight response.
When high levels of cortisol are released, our body produces more adrenaline, our heart rate increases, and other biological functions take a backseat so we can fully focus on the threat at hand.
This stress response is vital for times when we are truly in danger, but, unfortunately, it can also be triggered by perceived threats or everyday stressors. When we are experiencing chronic stress in our lives brought on by either external circumstances or internal nervousness, overproduction of cortisol can cause our bodies to stay in this fight-or-flight response long-term.
Chronic stress can negatively affect sleep quality, immune function, focus, memory, and more. Luckily, there are ways to help soothe feelings of stress. Along with setting aside time for calming activities such as deep breathing, taking walks, or practicing mindfulness, herbs like ashwagandha can help support the body’s natural response to stress.
Supports Athletic Performance
Many athletes praise the ashwagandha herb for its ability to support athletic performance.
Research suggests that the antioxidant-rich phytocannabinoids abundant within the ashwagandha root can help support oxygen levels and the body’s natural protection of cells. The more oxygen is available for use, the more vigorous a workout your body can handle.
Another plus: ashwagandha can help your body manage stress, resulting in balanced energy distribution across stress management and other processes like physical activity or immune function.
Supports the Immune System
The ashwagandha root contains several nutrients and phytocompounds, such as withaferin A (WA), that can support antioxidant activity.
Antioxidants such as WA can help maintain healthy blood sugar levels and support a healthy functioning immune system.
Like stress, small amounts of natural swelling can benefit the body in the short term, but too much swelling can cause many health problems in the long run. Normal swelling alerts the immune system to an injury. In contrast, chronic swelling can overwork and weaken the immune system and is associated with several health issues if left unchecked.
While stress can contribute to chronic swelling, the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants found in plants and herbs like ashwagandha can support the body in naturally managing stress.
Support Healthy Sexual Function
In maintaining healthy stress levels, ashwagandha may also support healthy sexual function. Ashwagandha root powder has been used for centuries as a potential aphrodisiac to help maintain sexual desire and performance.
By helping the body manage feelings of stress, ashwagandha may help support a positive mood and the natural production of other hormones like dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), which can help maintain healthy testosterone levels and serotonin. These hormones can play a role in libido and pleasure.
Support a Good Night’s Sleep
When high cortisol levels mess with our body’s natural balance, we are likely to feel tense and wound up — all of which are deterrents to a good night’s sleep.
A nervous mind can keep us from falling asleep as easily, while an increase in cortisol production can also disrupt our sleep cycles, leading to poor sleep quality. The good news is that ashwagandha’s ability to support feelings of calm can lead to more restful ZZZs. Studies reveal that ashwagandha use can support participants in getting a good night’s sleep.
Even better: sleep allows our bodies the chance to recharge and rebalance naturally. Getting enough sleep supports immune function and helps maintain feelings of calm.
So while the antioxidants in ashwagandha work within the body to help maintain homeostasis, the herb’s ability to support sleep can provide even further balance and wellness support.
Potential Side Effects of Ashwagandha
While ashwagandha is considered safe for most people when used correctly, reported side effects can include stomach upset, skin rash, and diarrhea.
You should not use ashwagandha if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have thyroid issues, as ashwagandha may affect thyroid hormone levels.
Because ashwagandha can interact with certain other supplements or medications such as sedatives, blood thinners, and blood pressure medication, you should seek professional medical advice before using ashwagandha.
What Are Other Things To Consider
Currently, there is no standard dose for ashwagandha use. Studies have safely used doses ranging between 250 and 1,200 milligrams, but the right dose for you depends on several factors, including your health conditions and reason for using ashwagandha.
One study found that taking 600 mg of ashwagandha daily for up to eight weeks was well tolerated by most participants, but it is best to speak with your doctor about what is right for you and your specific wellness needs.
The effects of ashwagandha may take some time, so we recommend starting with a lower dose and sticking to it for a month or so before trying to add more to your routine.
And, as always, make sure you only use ashwagandha from trusted sources and that you don’t exceed the recommended dose for your specific product.
Here at the Apothecary, our herbs are sustainably sourced and undergo vigorous testing procedures, and all of our final products are third-party tested to ensure their quality and safety.
Ashwagandha is considered a powerful herb in Ayurvedic medicine and continues to serve as a well-loved ingredient in herbal teas and dietary supplements.
Ashwagandha powder can support the body’s natural response to stressors, support a good night’s sleep, and support the immune system.
The Mental Clarity capsule combines Ashwagandha with CBD and ginkgo to help ease feelings of nervousness and support the mind’s ability to focus. This capsule is the perfect companion for any busy day and ideal for those times you need to get into the groove of a big project or are seeking mental insight.
Our Lover’s Latte is a sensual elixir crafted with nutrient-rich rose petals, aphrodisiacs like ashwagandha and damiana, the fruity schisandra berry, a dash of cocoa and cinnamon, and freshly pressed powdered coconut milk for a smooth finish. This vibrant and caffeine-free CBD Rose Milk can be mixed with a milk alternative and enjoyed with your loved one day or night to support sexual function and pleasure.
You can find our ashwagandha-infused products, our full collection of wellness-boosting organic CBD products, and nourishing tea blends at our shop!
Safety of Ashwagandha Root Extract: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, study in Healthy Volunteers | Complementary Therapies In Medicine