What is ashwagandha

What is ashwagandha?

Have you just heard of ashwagandha and are wondering what it is? Or maybe you’ve stumbled across it in other articles and have been meaning to read up about it at some point?

Park those queries, hold that research and read this article. By the end, you’ll know everything there is to know about ashwagandha.

What is it?

Ashwagandha is a small evergreen shrub that originates from parts of India, the Middle East and Africa. Its unusual name relates to the way it smells – ashwagandha roots smell like a horse, with ‘ashwa’ meaning horse.1 It’s these tube-like roots that are harvested, dried and ground down into a powder.2 The ashwagandha plant is renowned for being one of the most powerful herbs, which spans back thousands of years. As well as being an ancient herb, it’s also known for being an adaptogen, which means it contains a mix of amino acids, herbs and vitamins that can help the body manage stress.3

Ashwagandha uses

Ashwagandha has been used for many things over the last 3,000 years. This includes relieving stress, aiding sleep, increasing energy levels and improving concentration.4 Overall, it’s earned itself somewhat of a big reputation over the years for coping with stress (thanks to the adaptogens) and improving thinking ability (e.g. attention and concentration levels).5

Ashwagandha benefits

The benefits of using ashwagandha are widespread and include:6

  • Reducing blood sugar levels

  • Increasing muscle mass

  • Reducing inflammation

  • Lowering cholesterol

  • Improving concentration and memory

  • Lowering cortisol levels

How to use ashwagandha

There are various different ways you can take ashwagandha. You can buy ashwagandha powder. You can also get ashwagandha supplement capsules and liquid too.7

How you choose to take ashwagandha is very much down to personal preference, and the amount you take depends on what you are taking it for.

Ashwagandha dosage according to usage:

To lower:8

  • Cortisol (stress hormone) levels - it’s recommended you should take 500 to 600mg a day for six to 12 weeks.

  • Blood sugar levels – you should take between 250mg to 3g split into two to three equal doses throughout the day.

Drinking ashwagandha

As well as buying ashwagandha in a power, capsule or liquid form, it’s possible to buy Ashwagandha teabags too. It’s said to taste earthly and slightly bitter and is usually consumed with honey, cardamom, cherry juice, turmeric or hazel nut to make it more palatable.9 Another popular way of consuming ashwagandha is to create Moon Milk, a recipe that reportedly helps encourage sleep and improve sleep quality.10

How to make Moon Milk with ashwagandha powder

  • 1 cup milk of choice (whole, almond, coconut, etc.)
  • 1/2 tsp ground ashwagandha powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp honey or maple syrup

Simmer the milk, then whisk in the ashwagandha, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Simmer for another five minutes before adding the coconut oil. Sweeten with syrup or honey, if you like.

Generally speaking, the amount of ashwagandha depends on the type of supplement that’s being taken. Standard ashwagandha root extract tends to be taken in 450mg to 500mg capsules once or twice a day.11 The recommended guidance for adults is one a day, preferably with food or water.

What are Withanolides?

If you’ve checked out the Nature’s Way capsules, then you may have spotted that they contain 20mg of Withanolides in addition to the 500mg of ashwagandha root extract.

For those of you who haven’t come across this phrase, Withanolides are the primary active ingredient in ashwagandha. The level of Withanolides, which are mainly found in ashwagandha roots, varies from one extract to the other.

Ashwagandha side effects

As with taking any supplement, it’s important ashwagandha is taken in line with the manufacturer’s guidance.

We hope you’re feeling a bit more clued up about ashwagandha, especially when it comes to knowing what it’s used for and how to potentially start using it yourself. If you are planning on using it, always read the labels and follow the recommended intake levels.

Last updated: 18 August 2020

Sources
  1. https://www.naturewise.com/blogs/blog/the-ultimate-user-guide-to-ashwagandha-benefits-uses-types-reviews
  2. https://chopra.com/articles/what-is-ashwagandha
  3. https://food.ndtv.com/ayurveda/ashwagandha-the-powerful-health-benefits-and-beauty-benefits-you-need-to-know-1220328#:~:text=Ashwagandha%20is%20popularly%20used%20for,and%20for%20improving%20thinking%20ability.
  4. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318407#how_is_ashwagandha_taken
  5. https://topictea.com/blogs/tea-blog/ashwagandha-tea-the-complete-guide
  6. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-proven-ashwagandha-benefits#13
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