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The Magic of Ashwagandha


There can be a lot of opposing information – or rather misinformation – on any subject in the health conscious community. I feel ashwagandha is one good example.

In the weightlifting circles they claim ashwagandha increases testosterone and gives energy. Many women on the fertility journey take ashwagandha to help with the conception. And others take it to help with anxiety or sleep.

What is ashwagandha and how does it work?

Ashwagandha is an ancient herb, commonly used in Ayurveda (the oldest medicinal system) and referred to as an ‘adaptogen’. An adaptogen is a herb or food which can help the body adapt to different situations and stresses.

Although the direct translation of ashwagandha is the ‘smell of a horse’, the name refers to the power of the herb, the ‘essence of a horse’ – the stamina, strength, poise.

To simply say that ashwagandha gives us energy or helps us sleep would be a huge understatement. Ashwagandha teaches our body how to use energy efficiently.

If we are hyper, ashwagandha can helps us calm down. If we are always tired and lacking energy, ashwagandha can help increase our energy, by working with our body systems. It is nothing like drinking coffee or taking energy enhancing drugs.

Ashwagandha is a gentle yet powerful herb that works with our body wisely; balancing, regulating, supporting, nourishing, strengthening.

It may take a few weeks if not a month or two until we notice a difference. If we gain more energy in the day, we will feel very tired in the evening. Part of the balancing act will be requiring more sleep and sleeping deeply.

As ashwagandha helps our body on many levels, we can take it to enhance our immunity and help deal with inflammation.

Being a root, it is beautifully grounding. This is good news for all of us with ‘chatty minds’, especially once in bed. Thus we can get better sleep and wake up with more energy in the morning.

Again, it is too simple to claim that ashwagandha increases testosterone. Yes and no. Being the wise herbs she is, she will work with the hormonal system and balance it over time. We may require more progesterone or testosterone, or a more balanced cortisol.

Too much cortisol is bad, but so is too little. If we don’t have adequate levels of cortisol, we are unable to combat infections or heal inflammation. Low levels of cortisol will also make us feel ‘groggy’ in the morning and extremely exhausted throughout the day.

If our stress levels are too high, our body may need to ‘steal’ from our other hormones (like progesterone or testosterone) in order to make more cortisol. Remember, the body is always on our side. Our body doesn’t make mistakes. It is simply that we don’t always understand and don’t see the bigger picture.

One such good example is the thyroid gland – we often misunderstand what it is all about. Whether over- or underactive, ashwagandha is a wonderful friend.

An underactive thyroid is often a result of constant stress – emotional, mental, physiological – or the combination of them all. Our body will reduce the thyroid function as a last resort. We cannot thrive under constant stress, thus something has to give. If the thyroid functioned on ‘full blast’ we would simply die. However, by reducing the thyroid function we can and will survive. (I wrote a whole article about The Thyroid – Queen of Balance – it’s well worth a read).

From the Ayurvedic perspective, an overactive mind and an underactive thyroid are typical signs of too much Vata. Vata is one of the three doshas (body types) which is characterised by a tall, lean body (often unable to put on weight), talkative, creative personality, sluggish digestion and general restlessness and inability to relax. This is a very simple summary, although I hope you get the point. Vata people tend to be very ungrounded. Thus our wise ashwagandha can help them immensely – on so many levels.

Going through the hormonal changes leading to the menopause can be tough. This process will affect a woman’s body, mind and emotions, and the nervous system especially. Yet again, ashwagandha can be of great help.

Is ashwagandha suitable for everybody?

I would certainly avoid giving it to children.

There are not enough health studies for pregnant women, so as a general precaution, once a woman gets a pregnancy confirmation, she should stop her ashwagandha supplement. When the baby is born, she can start taking her supplement again. This will help with the sleep deprivation, new responsibilities and also prevent developing a post-partum hypothyroidism (which is more common than we think, unfortunately).

I would say ashwagandha is a must for everybody in our modern world, full of stress and challenges.

However, occasionally there is a person who doesn't get on with this herb. It is pretty rare, yet I have met a couple of ladies who didn’t enjoy working with ashwagandha.

If you take prescription medication or have a serious condition, it is always best to consult with your medical professional before taking any natural supplement.


Are all supplements the same?

Absolutely not. As we know there is a lot of pollution in the air as well as the soils in India where this plant usually grows. As a deep root, ashwagandha is able to absorb many heavy metals if grown in polluted areas.

The price usually reflects the quality – the cheapest is not worth your time or money.

It is important to choose an organic, whole spectrum extract – whether in capsules or liquid. The potency can differ depending on the extraction method and whether the root used is fresh or dried.

How do I take ashwagandha?

Morning or evening, it doesn’t make a difference. I would take it at least 20 minutes away from food, though, as you want the full potency.

When starting, you can take your supplement for 3 months without a break. After that, it is best to have breaks from taking it.

Can you guess? I am a big fan of ashwagandha!

I feel so good on it that I used to take it for years without a break. However, my body got used to the balancing boost and once I stopped my supplement, I felt utterly exhausted.

Nowadays I start my liquid supplement on day 7 of my cycle and stop as soon as I start my period. In other words, I take it for 3 weeks and have a break for 1 week. As it is linked with my monthly cycle it is easier for me to remember.


Have you tried ashwagandha? Has she improved the quality of your life as much as she has improved mine?


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