Ashwagandha is quickly becoming one of the most popular adaptogens on the market for its ability to reduce stress and promote a calmer and happier sense of being.
Adapta-what? Lots of us think of energy as something we get from food or caffeine, but more fundamental and more subtle are the concepts of “vital energy” (a Traditional Chinese Medicine theory) and of ingredients considered to be “adaptogenic”.
Adaptogens help strengthen the body’s response to stress and enhance its ability to cope with anxiety and fight fatigue – slowly and gently, without jolts or crashes. They’re called adaptogens because of their unique ability to “adapt” their function according to your body’s specific needs. Though the effects may initially be subtle and take time to make themselves felt, they’re real and undeniable.
Adaptogens have also been described as protecting the body’s energy resources from depletion by renewing and increasing the energy stored in the body. Think of a car’s gas tank. Adaptogens are like an additive to normal gas, helping to increase the efficiency of the engine.
Ashwagandha has been shown to support the adrenals via normalizing cortisol levels. This reduces the negative effects of high (or low levels) of this hormone. This is highly significant as ongoing stress can be detrimental to our health. One study looked at subjects with a history of chronic stress and found not only that those who took ashwagandha had lower cortisol levels in their blood, they also reported feeling a lower level of stress and increased sense of well-being in their daily lives than those who weren’t given ashwagandha.1
Ashwagandha also helps to soothe the hypothalamus (when we’re stressed, the amygdala stimulates the hypothalamus, which initiates the fight-or-flight response by producing stress hormones), thereby promoting better energy levels as well as supporting mood.2
In addition to these benefits, ashwagandha has been studied for its enhancement of memory and cognitive ability, making ashwagandha the perfect natural source of that vital energy that gives you a glow that shows!
- Chandrasekhar, et al. A Prospective, Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of a High-Concentration Full-Spectrum Extract of Ashwagandha Root in Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Adults. Indian J Psychol Med. 2012 Jul-Sep; 34(3): 255–262. doi: 10.4103/0253-7176.106022.
- Gannon JM, Forrest PE, Roy Chengappa KN. Subtle changes in thyroid indices during a placebo-controlled study of an extract of Withania somnifera in persons with bipolar disorder. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2014 Oct-Dec;5(4):241-5. doi: 10.4103/0975-9476.146566.