• Tami Bruskotter

Post #37 Surviving the Holidays with Ashwagandha!

In Podcast Episode #32, Karen tells us about using this herb to help with the overwhelm of the holiday season!


Tis the season to be anxious and tired! Wondering how you’re going to get through the holidays? The work parties, the family parties, the parties that are actually fun? It’s just a hectic time of year. Can an herbal supplement help? And if it can, is it safe? The herbal supplement I’m going to talk about today is Ashwagandha.

What is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera), also known as Indian Ginseng and Winter Cherry, is a plant that is native to Southeast Asia. It’s mainly grown in India and the root and the berry are used medicinally. In fact, it has been used for over 3000 years! In Sanskrit, Ashwagandha means “smell of the horse”. Apparently, it refers to its unique smell and the fact that it can increase strength. In Ayurveda, the traditional Hindu system of medicine, Ashwagandha is classified as an ‘adaptogen’ meaning that it can help your body manage stress and is one of the most important herbs. Extracts or powder are made from the plant’s roots and leaves. Also, Ashwagandha has been extensively studied for a variety of disorders and has been shown to actually work.

The Benefits:

Ashwagandha is best known for its ability to reduce stress. Several controlled human studies have shown that people who have supplemented with Ashwagandha have had a 69% reduction in anxiety and insomnia compared to 11% in the placebo group. Ashwagandha not only treats stress and anxiety, but is used for improving thinking ability, decreasing pain and swelling and preventing the signs of aging. It’s also used for fertility problems in men and women.

Some of the other benefits are:

  • · Can reduce blood sugar levels

  • · Might have anti-cancer properties by helping to cause apoptosis which is the programmed death of cancer cells and can stop the growth of new cancer cells

  • · Can reduce cortisol levels in the chronically stressed (me!)

  • · May reduce symptoms of depression

  • · Can boost testosterone and fertility in men (increases sperm quality)

  • · May increase muscle mass and strength

  • · Can reduce inflammation

  • · May lower cholesterol and triglycerides

  • · May improve memory

Ashwagandha can also be used topically to treat wounds and back pain. Sounds like a miracle herb!

How to Take Ashwagandha

The dosage of Ashwagandha that you take will depend on what purpose you’re taking it for. Extracts are generally the most effective. Here’s a general guideline:

  • · The Dosage For Reducing Anxiety and Inhibiting Cortisol Production: 250mg taken one to four times daily, before meals.

  • · For Enhanced Memory and Brain Health: 150-200mg taken one to two times daily, before meals.

  • · For Immune Function, Anti-inflammatory, and Antioxidant Properties: 100-150mg taken once per day, prior to a meal

As with any herbal supplement, be aware that this is not regulated by the FDA. There’s no guarantee as to the purity and the strength. Always look for the common name as well as the scientific name on the bottle and make sure that the manufacturer’s address, phone number, and batch number is printed on the bottle!

Any Side Effects? Is it Safe?

Yes and yes. It’s considered safe for most people, although its long-term effects aren’t really known. Large doses can cause upset stomach, diarrhea, and vomiting. Some of the safety precautions are:

  • · Don’t take if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

  • · Don’t combine Ashwagandha with prescription antidepressants or anti-anxiety meds

  • · Be careful combining it with diabetes medications, it may lower blood sugar levels too much

  • · Might cause blood pressure to go too low in certain people

  • · Don’t use if you have a stomach ulcer

  • · DO NOT use if you have an autoimmune disorder!! It will cause the immune system to become more active and increase symptoms

  • · If you have thyroid disease it can increase the level of thyroid hormone

The Bottom Line:

Ashwagandha seems to be a real and effective alternative treatment not only for anxiety and stress, but for multiple other conditions. Just make sure you are buying it from a reputable manufacturer and avoid it if you suffer from an auto immune disorder such as thyroid disease, MS, Lupus, etc.

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