Tight deadlines, overdue bill payments, an inbox full of hundreds of unread emails… No wonder we’re a generation of overworked and over-caffeinated overachievers! But something has shifted over the last few years as wellness has entered the centre stage. It’s no longer considered cool to be overly busy and stressed. Perhaps it’s because we’ve now realised just how toxic ongoing stress can be, wreaking havoc on everything from your weight to your work performance. Now, we’re all doing everything in our power to banish stress from our lives for good. Every week, a new miracle cure for stress seems to hit the market. But what if the ultimate stress-fighting herb had already been around for 3000 years? Enter, ashwagandha.
We’ve written before about adaptogens: a class of herbs used in Ayurvedic healing. Ashwagandha, also known as winter cherry or Indian ginseng, is part of this group. The name ashwagandha means ‘smell of a horse’ in Sanskrit, but don’t let that put you off! Experts believe the name indicates that the herb has the strength of a horse, not the odor. The shrub is originally sourced from India and has been used for its restorative benefits for centuries. While its berries and leaves are also used in Ayurvedic healing, the roots are the real MVP.
The main benefit of ashwagandha is definitely its ability to help protect the body from toxic stress. This is because the plant modifies cortisol levels and can have a balancing effect on glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain. Put simply, the adaptogen can help soothe you when you’re freaking out. Research shows that the herb can also be used to assist with:
The powerful herb has already found its way into the Calm + Beautiful tonic at Lifehouse in LA and US brand Rebbl’s chai elixir. But don’t worry, you don’t have to move to the other side of the world to get your ashwagandha dose! You can get it right here in tea, tonic, powder or capsule form.
Want to add some extra relaxation to your tea time ritual? Consider swapping your usual cuppa with an ashwagandha tea. It’s also a great one to incorporate into your nightly wind-down routine. All the herbs in this one from Celebration Herbals are organically grown and prepared, so you can be sure you’re getting the adaptogen in its purest form.
If you find you’re not a fan of the earthy taste of ashwagandha, don’t worry. This liquid extract is naturally flavoured with lemon. Mix 1/2 a teaspoon with a glass of water or add it to your juice or smoothie to reap the healing benefits.
Looking for something new to add to your morning smoothie? This ashwagandha powder from Biovea will help you start your day on a positive, relaxed note. The herb is quite bitter in powder form, so you might want to make like Gwynnie and add some naturally sweet ingredients like maca and almond butter.
If you just want to get your daily ashwagandha fix over and done with, opt for a capsule. This one from Solgar is gluten, dairy and wheat free, making it an ideal choice for pretty much everyone!