We live in stressful times with the COVID-19 global pandemic surging. If you are like so many, you’re probably trying to find natural ways to cope. Ashwagandha root helps create balance in your body so you are better able to handle everything that life throws at you.
Exploring What is Ashwagandha Root?
The Ashwagandha root grows throughout India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
Ayurvedic practitioners have used the Ashwagandha herb for centuries. The name is Sanskrit and translates into ‘horse smell’ and refers to ‘the smell and strength of a horse’ when used in a sentence. The name is said to reflect the herb’s ability to restore vitality and libido to the users. Besides, when the herb is ground it smells similar to an equine.
The species name of Ashwagandha is somnifera (sleep-inducing in laying). Holistic practitioners often used the herb to promote sleepiness and relaxation.
Origins of the Ashwagandha Herb
The Ashwagandha root comes from an evergreen shrub. The Withania somnifera shrub has velvet-like leaves. It produces bell-shaped flowers that contain orange berries that bear a striking resemblance to small cherry tomatoes. The shrub grows in a short, robust fashion.
The shrub grows throughout much of the Indian subcontinent in somewhat dry areas. You’ll find it in the wild in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and India. It also flourishes in parts of Africa. Nowadays, farms cultivate Ashwagandha in parts of Western North Carolina with great success.
The roots of the Ashwagandha are always harvested in the fall months because it is believed that the plant’s phytochemicals are at their peak during that season. The additional phytochemicals probably build-up in the plant’s root system as it prepares for the long winter months.
Adaptogen of Ashwagandha
Adaptogen refers to the ability to create homeostasis in the human body. To achieve a classification of ‘adaptogen,’ an herb must meet the following criteria that were set forth by N.V. Lazarex, a Russian scientist, who is also credited with discovering other adaptogens like the Siberian Ginseng. Lazarex also worked with Israel Brekham, a renowned research scientist who regularly taught about adaptogen.
Plants that are classified as adaptogens must be:
- Benefit overall well-being
- Regulate stress by helping the body adapt
Ashwagandha in Ayurveda
Ayurveda uses many herb combinations
In Ayurveda, Ashwagandha has the reputation for promoting happiness, longevity, and vitality. The herb is often given to young children or seniors as a tonic. After harvest, the root is dried and then ground into a fine powder which is mixed with honey, milk, and ghee to mask its naturally bitter taste. The beverage is then warmed and consumed right before the user goes to bed. Throughout history, many refer to it as ‘golden milk’ due to its ability to relax the body.
The Ashwagandha herb links to the Vata constitution (space and air). Creating balance in the Vata energy helps with skin or joint problems, promotes cognitive function, increases vitality. Aids in the body’s nervous system and keeps joints and skin supple. Many use the herb to balance their hormones and increase their mental capacity (especially after decline associated with aging). Advocates report that it helps improve their sleep quality. If you have joint pain then the ground powder root works well when applied topically to the area of discomfort.
In Ayurvedic medicine, Ashwagandha appears to affect the body and emotions (Sadhaka Pitta). Divya Alter, who is a chef and owner of an Ayurvedic restaurant known as Divya’s Kitchen says, “If you are of high Pitta (fiery) constitution or have accumulated acidic toxins, taking Ashwagandha alone in tablet or powder form will be too heating; you may feel hot flashes and irritation in your stomach or liver.”
Ashwagandha Root and Kratom
Kratom combined with Ashwagandha promotes sleep.
Most Ayurvedic practitioners suggest combining the root with other cooling herbs like raw sugar, rice, licorice, milk, or ghee when using. Also, when combining the herb with other adaptogens such as Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian Ginseng) or Ginsing (Panax ginseng and Panax quinquefolius) to create a positive and balanced stress response in the body.
Another natural combination that many people are trying is the use of Ashwagandha with the herb kratom. Kratom is a natural herb obtained from the Mitragyna speciose evergreen tree. It has been used throughout much of SE Asia for centuries as a holistic way to cope with stress. When combined with Ashwagandha you receive double the stress-reducing benefits. The alkaloids found in kratom powder acts in much the same way.
Ashwagandha root impacts the body in the following ways:
The health benefits of Ashwagandha include:
- Helping the body adapt to stressful situations
- Support the endocrine system
- Offers nervous system assistance
- Bolsters the immune system
- Boosts the function of the cardiovascular system
Helps the Body Cope with Stress
When experiencing undue stress and anxiousness, Ashwagandha appears to help the body release cortisol (a stress hormone) by the adrenal glands which mobilize the body’s natural fight or flight response.
Cortisol within the human body follows an interesting daily rhythm. In the morning it increases to mobilize the body, so you are better able to cope with the challenges of the day. During the evening it starts to lower which allows the body to relax and gain a restful sleep to undergo its necessary restorative processes.
In today’s fast-paced life, people are under constant pressure and facing non-stop worries/fears. Work deadlines, financial problems, coping with relationships, juggling parenthood, and more cause ongoing pressure throughout the day so the body’s cortisol always stays elevated which can harm the body’s nervous system’s function.
Ashwagandha appears to help balance the body’s production of cortisol so it does not spike and plummet during the day. This enables the body to better adapt to challenges. Also, healthy levels of cortisol support the function of the body’s adrenal glands which balances out the person’s reproductive health which is largely dependent on optimum functioning adrenals.
Improves the Function of the Nervous System
Your body’s nervous system is critical to your health. It impacts how you feel, the decisions you make, and whether you have a positive experience during the day.
Another way that the root helps the nervous system is via antioxidant support. It also opens the pathways within the brain which boosts gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) flow. GABA is a neurotransmitter that your body relies on to sustain not only muscle tone but also a sense of calmness which helps your mood stabilize.
Ashwagandha Root and Reproductive Health
Reproductive stability requires fully functioning adrenal glands. Your stress response has a direct impact on fertility due to hormone balance. Stress causes the body to spiral out of whack. Your hormones plummet and spike dangerously. The imbalance can lead to infertility and other problems with your libido. If your body starts to experience a lot of stress then your system responds by promoting the production of cortisol instead of progesterone, testosterone, or estrogen. The coping mechanism balances out your mood but also sends your hormones into a significant tailspin.
Couples who frequently suffer from infertility often turn to Indian herb to balance the hormones in the body. Men especially benefit from Ashwagandha root which seems to help them attain healthy active sperm levels.
Muscle Strength and Recovery
Whether you are male or female, Ashwagandha can prove promising in helping you gain greater muscle strength and have a shorter period of muscle recovery after a tough workout. Workout enthusiasts know that Ashwagandha helps plateau creatinine kinase which reduces muscle damage and assists the muscles recovery post-workout. Over time you have better muscle definition, improved strength, and less discomfort after pushing your body (the dreaded post workout recovery pain).
Sleep Assistance with Ashwagandha Root
When your body is under stress, you probably find sleep elusive. In fact, even if you manage to fall into slumber, you still might wake up feeling tired because the sleep you attained was not restful or quality. Using the root appears to help with sleep and promote the body’s recuperative properties so you wake up feeling rejuvenated. Also, you can combine Ashwagandha with kratom to relax, sleep soundly, and wake up feeling renewed. However, be sure to pick a strain of kratom that promotes relaxation. At My Kratom Club, we carry a wide array of kratom strains HERE.
Using Ashwagandha to cope with stress has shown beneficial according to one 2019 study which found a daily dose of 240 milligrams reduced the person’s stress levels by lowering cortisol. Another study performed the same year found similar results only with 250 milligrams of Ashwagandha.
Clearly, Ashwagandha, along with a handful of other herbs like kratom, have withstood the test of time and are still valued in medicine. If you are looking for a holistic way to handle the daily upheaval then why not give the herbs a try? If you would like to learn more, contact My Kratom Club.
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