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6 Ashwagandha Benefits

Ashwagandha has been used in Ayurvedic medicine safely & effectively for over 2500 years. Sometimes referred to as "Indian Ginseng" this powerful adaptogen grows sustainably as a shrub in India, Africa, The Middle East and China. This plant is part of the Solanaceae (or nightshade family) and produces bright yellow flowers and red berries. However, it is the roots of this shrub that are used mostly for medicinal extracts.

There are .two main reasons ashwagandha is so prized by both Eastern medicine and now Western herbalism. One, is because of its proven safety record and that it is non-toxic, even when taken in large amounts and for long periods of time. The second reason ashwagandha is so valuable, is because of its versatility and ability for broad spectrum use. This is only a few of the reasons this particular adaptogen is so relevant for today's modern health challenges.

Here are 6 amazing ways ashwagandha can helps us.

1.) Supports normal cortisol levels.

When our body perceives that we are stressed, it sets out to help us by signalling our adrenal glands to make and release the hormone cortisol into the bloodstream. This "stress hormone" increases our heart rate and blood pressure so that we can ward off what the body perceives as danger. This is our "flight or fight" response that has kept us all alive throughout history.

How It Works:

Studies show that ashwagandha seems to be able to help modulate heat shock proteins (Hsp70), cortisol, and stress-activated c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase (JNK-1.) (1)

2.) Supports our Adrenals

Ashwagandha supports our adrenals by acting directly on what triggers stress and regulating our imbalanced cortisol levels while nourishing the adrenal glands. It acts directly on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis modulating the release of stress hormones, (2) such as cortisol, from the adrenal glands.

How It Works:

Ashwagandha can reduce the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which help us regulate our stress response. (3)

3.) Stress Support

Ashwagandha, has shown to be an incredible stress and mood supporting herb, that supports us by increasing our own resilience to stress. It has also been shown to reduce fatigue from overwork, toxins, physical and even emotional exertion.

How It Works:

Ashwagandha works by helping activate GABA, or Gamma Aminobutyric Acid, receptors in the brain to block signals of anxiety and stress.(4)It also helps to normalize levels of serotonin in the brain which can support our mood.

4.) Supports Our Libido

Ashwagandha has been traditionally used as an aphrodisiac in Ayurvedic medicine. It has been shown to improve sexual health & increase fertility in both men and women.

How it Works:

Ashwagandha works on the libido by stimulating the production of nitric oxide which increases circulation throughout the body and helps provide blood flow (5) to the genitals.

5.) Supports Energy Without Being Stimulating

In Ayurveda, ashwagandha is considered a Rasayana (a rejuvenator) and reinforces the central nervous system helping to promote deeper levels of

relaxation as well as greater sustained levels of energy.

How It Works:

Ashwagandha is often used in Ayurvedic medicine to promote “youthful vigor,”(6) to help with overall muscle strength and endurance, as well as to improve overall health. This adaptogen is also thought to counteract symptoms of chronic fatigue, weakness and nervous exhaustion. (Kulkarni & Dhir, 2008) (7)

6.) Sleep Support

Ashwagandha's botanical name is Withania Somnifera may hold a key to its true potential - the species name "Somnifera" means "sleep-inducing" in Latin. Ashwagandha helps to relax the mind and our body by promoting deeper and more restful sleep. Studies have also shown that ashwagandha can help us achieve more productive wakefulness while regulating sleep-wake cycles.

How It Works:

Ashwagandha can also play a role in calcium absorption and calcium excretion (8) in the kidneys. It has been shown that calcium might play a significant role in our sleep cycles, particularly the REM stage of our sleep. Studies have also shown that ashwagandha can help us achieve more productive wakefulness while regulating sleep-wake cycles. (9)

It is important to note that ashwagandha isn't a panacea for everything and shouldn't be used to "fix" the body. It is not a substitution for healthy lifestyle habits, proper nutrition and good sleep hygiene. It is however, an amazing and safe adjunct to include in your daily wellness practice. This famous adaptogens benefits are far reaching even beyond the scope of the above mentioned benefits.