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Ashwagandha: What Is It And How Does It Improve Stress?

Ashwagandha: What Is It And How Does It Improve Stress?

If you’ve ever had to deal with stress you might have heard someone mention using ashwagandha as a natural stress reliever. As one of the most essential adaptogens in Ayurveda, ashwagandha has traditionally been used for thousands of years to support stress, improve concentration, and increase energy.

And there’s a reason why its popularity has also skyrocketed in the last few years. Let’s dive into some of the benefits, uses, and side effects of ashwagandha. 

What is ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is a shrub that is native to India and Southeast Asia. It also grows in the Middle East and some parts of Africa. It has been used in Ayurveda, a traditional Indian system of medicine based on natural ingredients, to improve stress and promote calmness. You may have heard it referred to as winter cherry or Indian ginseng. 

In more recent years, ashwagandha root extract has been used on its own and in combination with other leading Ayurvedic herbs by healthy adults in wellness and biohacking communities. Let's get into how it's used and why!

Uses of ashwagandha root extract

Ashwagandha is often taken as a natural supplement and is a key ingredient in many stress support supplements. The extract is taken from the root or the leaves of the shrub and made into a supplement which can come in many forms. Ashwagandha supplements can be used as capsules, powders, or tinctures. 

Ashwagandha capsules are typically taken the same way as other capsule herbal supplements, meanwhile, ashwagandha powder is traditionally combined into an Ayurvedic mixture with ghee, milk, or honey.

Have you heard of moon milk? It's a traditional Ayurvedic recipe that combines turmeric, ashwagandha powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and other delicious spices into one warm drink that promotes sleepiness and relaxation. It's a great holistic way to fall asleep or wind down at the end of a long day. Improve your sleep quality with one nighttime drink!

Otherwise, ashwagandha can be taken in capsule form which many people turn to in order to regulate their stress. Ashwagandha extract benefits physical and mental health by regulating the central nervous system and promoting feelings of calm.

Benefits of ashwagandha (aka "Indian ginseng")

Taking ashwagandha has been purported to have various wellness and health benefits. These range from supporting stress levels, decreasing feelings of anxiousness, supporting the immune system, and boosting energy levels, to even allegedly helping with sexual function.

We've talked a little bit already of the stress-supporting health benefits of ashwagandha, but there are additional benefits, too.

In addition to being incredible at reducing stress, ashwagandha is antioxidant-packed making it a great warrior against free radicals. In other words, it can actually improve the body's self-defense against outside toxins and harmful bacteria.

Side effects of ashwagandha

Because ashwagandha extract is natural, the side effects are not going to be as extreme as taking a pharmaceutical for stress. In fact, if you suffer from severe stress-related disorders, it is important that you consult your physician before adding a new supplement to your routine.

Healthy young adults looking for a safe way to take the edge off a bit should feel safe taking ashwagandha supplements, as not many side effects have been reported.

However, some side effects that have been noted are:

-nausea

-upset stomach

-drowsiness

-diarrhea

When should I take ashwagandha?

Taking ashwagandha is a personal choice, and so is the time of day you prefer to take it. Keeping in mind its various benefits and effects, you should be able to safely take ashwagandha supplements at any time of day.

When taking ashwagandha in the morning, you allow your body more time to process and absorb the herb. However, because it does promote calmness, it can make some people feel sleepy during the day.

In this case, some people prefer to take ashwagandha powder in the evenings to allow the body time to relax and get ready for a night of restorative sleep. Your sleep quality with ashwagandha may improve when taken over time.

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