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  • Heather D.

Ashwagandha Benefits for Immunity, Anxiety Support

Updated: Apr 19



So you can't sleep at night? Welcome to the club.


Racing thoughts occupy your mind, preventing you from entering deep, restorative sleep. A good night's sleep is essential for being productive the next day. Over time, lost sleep has a cascade of detrimental health effects, such as obesity and depression.


One plant medicine that can help with that. We're talking about an adaptogen known as Ashwagandha.


WHAT IS ASHWAGANDHA?


Ashwagandha is a well known Ayurvedic adaptogen utilized for its ability to combat stress, anxiety and insomnia. It can help you sleep better at night, thus giving you better, more sustainable energy throughout the day.


The translation of Ashwagandha is roughly "the smell and strength of a horse," which alludes to its traditional use to support a healthy sex drive.* Its species name, somnifera, means "sleep-inducing" in Latin," according to Gaia herbs.


WHAT IS ASHWAGANDHA USED FOR?


"Researchers have reported that it blocked the stress pathway in the brains of rats by regulating chemical signaling in the nervous system. Also, several controlled human studies have shown that it can reduce symptoms in people with stress and anxiety disorders. In a 60-day study in 64 people with chronic stress, those in the group that supplemented with ashwagandha reported a 69% reduction in anxiety and insomnia, on average, compared with 11% in the placebo grou. In another 6-week study, 88% of people who took ashwagandha reported a reduction in anxiety, compared with 50% of those who took a placebo," according to Healthline.


"Cortisol is a stress hormone released from the adrenals that has evolutionarily helped the body to mobilize a "fight or flight" response to a perceived imminent danger, freeing up resources for a vigorous fight against an intruder or flight from danger. Cortisol naturally follows a daily rhythm, rising in the morning to help mobilize the body's forces for the daily needs and lowering in the evening to allow the body to sleep and perform restorative processes. Cortisol is helpful as a short-term defense mechanism and as part of a natural daily rhythm. The stress of modern human culture chronically activates the cortisol stress response, which can impact delicate glucose and lipid balance as well as vascular integrity, gastrointestinal membrane integrity and nervous system function," according to Gaia herbs.




"Allopathic doctors in India often prescribe Ashwagandha along with antibiotics to help counter the tendency of these drugs to weaken the immune system. Ashwagandha strengthens the immune system and counters chronic fevers and infections. It aids in the healing process, particularly of chronic, slow healing sores. It can help counter the effects of too many antibiotics," says Billie J. Sahley, Ph.D., C.N.C.


According to Learning Herbs, one of my favorite places for information, special care needs to be taken with this powerful adaptogen if you are sensitive to nightshades. I am typically sensitive to nightshades, particularly potatoes and eggplants, but not tomatoes. I seem to tolerate ashwagandha very well, so keep in mind that your mileage may vary.


"Ashwagandha is generally regarded as a safe herb that will benefit most people. However, there are some considerations to keep in mind. Use it during pregnancy only under the advice of a qualified herbalist or health professional. Do not take with barbiturates, as it may potentiate their sedative effects. Some people with nightshade sensitivities may not tolerate it, although this seems to be a small percentage. (Ashwagandha is a member of the nightshade family.) In Ayurvedic theory, this herb shouldn’t be used if there is a current upper respiratory infection or lots of mucus congestion," writes Rosalee de la Forêt for Learning Herbs.


HOW DO I TAKE ASHWAGANDHA?


You can cap it or put the powder in a smoothie, which is one of my favorite ways to consume it! What I like to do is mix in some Green Dragon with Ashwagandha and Lion's Mane in a morning smoothie. Below you'll find the recipe. Feel free to adapt it and make it your own!



Ashwagandha Banana Smoothie

Yield: 5 cups, 3 to 5 servings


INGREDIENTS

2 bananas

2 cups almond or coconut milk

1 cup full fat, plain yogurt

1/2 cup nut or seed butter

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 tablespoons Beaufort Kratom ashwagandha powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon powder

1-3 tsp maple syrup or honey, to taste

*1 tsp Green Dragon or Red Dragon kratom powder (optional for an extra kick!)


DIRECTIONS


Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth. Stir and blend a few more times to ensure everything is blended together smoothly and there aren't any clumps of powder. Pour in a cup and enjoy alone or with good friends!


Recipe adapted from Learning Herbs and Alchemy of Herbs.

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