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Ashwagandha, also known as Indian Ginseng, is a root traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine to help reduce stress, improve mood (1), and increase energy levels.
Native to India and North Africa, this small, shrub-like plant with yellow flowers is considered a Rasayana in ayurvedic medicine, meaning ‘path of essence.’ Rasayana refers to the science of increasing longevity, and ashwagandha is known to help increase longevity due to its powerful compounds.
The herb’s adaptogenic properties help the body adapt to stress and become more resilient to life’s challenges, while supporting overall mind-body balance.
Ashwagandha helps to reduce oxidative degradation (2) that causes cellular tissue damage to the thyroid. Since the thyroid is responsible for many of our emotional hormones, a balanced thyroid creates a positive effect on our mood. Ashwagandha can also help to soothe the hypothalamus, which can increase our feelings of happiness and well-being.
Ashwagandha’s antioxidants help to protect cells from free radical damage, which can catalyze illness, aging, inflammation, and autoimmunity. The herb’s’ antioxidant properties boost the immune system to promote longevity, help to prevent disease, and even support slowing the aging process.
When we’re stressed, or when our blood sugar levels get low, our adrenal glands produce a stress hormone called cortisol. Studies (3) show that this herb helps calm anxiety by reducing cortisol levels and soothing the central nervous system.
Ashwagandha can balance the thyroid, which helps control your metabolism and promote the maintenance of a healthy weight. It’s also been linked to balancing blood sugar levels which can help minimize blood sugar fluctuations and energy spikes. A recent study (4) showed how ashwagandha can even help reduce food cravings and decrease excessive food consumption linked to stress.
In Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha is used for mind-rejuvenation. The herb’s many antioxidants and anti-microbial properties are shown to benefit cognitive function (5), such as focus, memory, and concentration.
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