Ashwagandha in Ayurveda means “smelling like a horse”. When it was discovered in ancient times this is how they identified this herb. The English name is ‘Winter Cherry’. It has beautiful leafy greens and small red berries. It is part of the nightshade family so if you have allergies to night shades please choose a different adaptogen to work with.
Ashwagandha is known for being a tonic, rejuvenative, nervine, aphrodisiac, sedative, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant. A superb remedy for nervous exhaustion. Ashwagandha is an adaptogen. Adaptogens help the body adapt to various stressors—e.g., heat, cold, exertion, trauma, sleep deprivation, toxic exposure, radiation, infection, psychological stress. Ginseng is regarded by some as the prototypic adaptogen. Ashwagandha can be considered a ‘junior’ ginseng, making it the least over stimulating of the ginseng family.
In Ayurveda, adaptogens are known as ‘rasayanas’ which are herbs believed to promote youthfulness and increase resistance to illness.
Ashwagandha as an adaptogen, appears to enhance endocrine function, and can help support an under-active thyroid and support balanced functioning for the testes and adrenal glands. It is often used in Ayurvedic formulas to support fertility and vitality in men. For women, it can be supportive during heavy periods because it is rich in iron and has been used as a uterine tonic.
For the immune system, ashwagandha has a balancing action and can be used in the presence of either hyper- or hypo-immune function.
General uses include:
Loss of memory
Loss of muscle energy
Severe congestion, high ama (toxins), lymph congestion, cold and flu.
Ayurvedic herbalism uses ashwagandha for general debility and exhaustion, emaciation, memory loss, nerve diseases, cough, anemia, anxiety, and insomnia. Study after study confirms the stress tolerance, performance and endurance enhancing benefits of this herb. It has been shown to increase physical working capacity, increase the size of the heart and the content of blood sugar fuel in the heart and liver.
In another double – blind clinical study, ashwagandha was taken 3 g per day for 1 year, was tested on the process of aging in 101 healthy male adults (50-59 years of age). Significant improvements in hemoglobin, red blood cells, hair pigment and seated stature were observed. Serum cholesterol decreased, nail calcium was preserved and 71.4% of those who received the herb reported improvement in sexual performance.
Ayurveda considers it a ‘grounding’ herb. One that nourishes and regulates metabolic processes and stabilizes mood. As well as being a slow-acting tonic herb, this remedy seems to regulate sleep cycles over time. It also has anti-oxidant activity in the brain, which support anti-inflammatory and anti-aging benefits. Ashwagandha promotes sound sleep and supports Yoga and meditation.
A typical dose is about a gram per day, taken over long periods up to several years, as a rejuvenator. Ashwagandha is typically given with pungent, heating herbs (ginger, pepper, etc.) to increase its tonic effects.
*I have brought you this article through research conducted by the writings and wisdom of my teacher and mentor for Ayurvedic Herbs, KP Khalsa. He was the chief formulator for Yogi Teas, and highly credentialed in East West clinical herbal and dietary nutrition. Through him I have taken courses on Ayurvedic Herbs for Women & Integrated Herbology of Ayurvedic, Chinese, & Western Herbs.
*The Way of Ayurvedic Herbs by Michael Terra & KP Khalsa