Chill Out with Ashwagandha: 6 Health & Wellness Benefits of the Herb
Last Updated: April 14, 2022
Stressed, depressed, and kind of a mess? If this sounds like you, ashwagandha could be the brain boost you need to get back on track. Read more for the benefits and side effects of this Ayurvedic root.
Maybe you’ve seen ashwagandha in health food stores but never understood what all the fuss was about, or you’ve been curious for a while and finally decided to check it out. After all, who wouldn’t be intrigued at the prospect of a literal chill pill?
This ancient root has some serious science-backed benefits that aid in everything from anxiety reduction to improved brain function. Read on to learn about the best ashwagandha supplements and how to use Ayurveda’s chillest herb for an extra hit of health and wellness.
What is ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha, also known as Indian Ginseng, winter cherry, or by its scientific name, Withania somnifera, is an adaptogenic herb native to India and the Middle East. It’s part of the nightshade family: cousin to eggplant, tomatoes, and the sinister belladonna. The reddish-orange fruits and roots of the ashwagandha shrub are used for both stress relief and overall health enhancement.
Ashwagandha has been used in Ayurvedic medicine — a traditional medicinal system practiced in India — for thousands of years. In Ayurveda, ashwagandha is part of a rejuvenating branch of medicine centered on restoring the body’s vitality. Fun fact: In Sanskrit, ashwagandha roughly translates to “strength of a thousand horses.”
Wait – what's an adaptogen?
Adaptogens are herbs or mushrooms that are thought to help the body resist stress and stay calm, often used as a cure-all for anxiety, depression, sex drive, and insomnia. The term was first coined in 1947 by Soviet toxicologoist N. V. Lazarev who described them as substances with “non-specific” resistance to adverse influences on our equilibrium.
Learn all about turmeric for a better mood and reduced inflammation.
Benefits of ashwagandha
1. Reduces anxiety and depression
Ashwagandha’s magnum opus is its ability to alleviate symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. It helps control cortisol (a stress hormone) by reducing activity in the autonomic nervous system – the system responsible for regulating our stress responses. One study even showed that ashwagandha helped participants sleep better.
2. Reduces inflammation
Ashwagandha contains compounds with anti-inflammatory properties that have been shown to reduce inflammatory markers in the body, with possible anti-cancer effects.
3. Improves brain function
4. Lowers blood sugar
5. Boosts muscle strength
6. Boosts reproductive health
Ashwagandha has been shown to increase reproductive health in men by balancing hormone levels with an increase in testosterone while improving sperm quality. In women, Ashwagandha improved lubrication and led to more satisfying orgasms. So it’s a wonderful addition to the lives of both sexes.
How to use ashwagandha
Successful studies on the benefits of ashwagandha ranged from consuming 250mg to 600mg of ashwagandha per day. It could take some trial and error to find your sweet spot, so read the labels on ashwagandha supplements for correct dosages, and consult with your doctor if you have any concerns.
Vary the time you take it
Feeling anxious? Try taking ashwagandha in the morning. Having trouble sleeping? Pop in a supplement before bedtime. The most important thing is to take ashwagandha consistently in order to see results – no matter what time your body needs that extra dose of chill.
How long does it take ashwagandha to work?
People have seen the effects of ashwagandha in as little as two weeks, but every body is different – so it could take you longer to notice any changes. One study noted measurable effects after eight weeks, while another showed improvements after 10 weeks. Give your body time to experience this new supplement before you decide if ashwagandha works for you.
Ashwagandha side effects
Ashwagandha is a gentle herb that’s safe for most people to use. In high doses — typically doses exceeding the recommended dose — side effects like nausea and vomiting have been reported. Follow the manufacturer’s directions and talk with your doctor before starting a new supplement.