We've heard it all - every possible pronunciation of the herb called Ashwaganda. Just like some people come in asking for Frankenstein Oil, when they actually mean Frankincense Oil, we’ve gotten pretty good at deciphering weird names given to herbs and other complimentary medicines. When I finally manage to figure out that a client is looking for Ashwaganda -1 get so happy! I probably can't say that it's my favourite herb because otherwise you'd know I'm cheating. If I'm not careful, each blog post will start like that, because they all feel like my favourites. I just love herbs! Ashwaganda however is really high up on my list.
Ashwaganda has a lot of benefits including:
•Balancing Thyroid hormones
•Reducing brain cell degeneration and thereby increase memory function
•Increasing fertility and sexual health
•Boosting muscle strength (even better if combined with a good workout)
•Balancing Blood Sugar
Like the list above isn't great enough, that’s not actually what this post is about Today I would like to focus on all the herb's benefits for the nervous system - specifically.
How many of you feel happy? Truly happy?
I once read in a book that no happy person has to stand in front of a mirror and repeat to themselves that they are happy - you just are!
We find that many people in todays crazy, upside down, fast paced, ever changing new world that we live in, struggle to keep it all together. So many of our clients say that they struggle (however mildly, or serious) with feelings of depression, anxiety and just stress. Remember, everyone feels stressed. You can sometimes look at someone who seems like they have it all but I bet you - they feel stress - in their own way. No one can judge and say that one person has more stress than someone else. The way we experience stress is different for everyone. Someone fighting a war thousands of kilometers from home might be the same level of stressed as a girl who can't find the right colour dress for prom. That might be the most stressful event in both individuals fives. The trick is, how do we manage that stress?
Herbs like Ashwaganda, Rhodiola. Ginseng and Astragalus are all Adaptogens. The simplest way to explain what an Adaptogen is, is that it helps you to adapt to change. Whether it's moving to a new town, getting into or out of a relationship, new job, dealing with the death of a loved one or raising kids (they're ever changing). As our environment changes, our body goes into a state of shock - it doesn't like change. Some people take only a few seconds to get over it and move on, others get stuck and their nervous systems never recover.
When we stress our bodies release a hormone called CortisoL This is also known as the stress hormone. Ashwaganda helps lower your Cortisol levels to help you not always be ON. In order for your body to wake up in the morning it releases Cortisol to counter the Melatonin which helps you stay asleep. Now imagine your body keeps getting little does of wake-me-up- juice - it just never switches off! This can lead to insomnia and from there anxiety during the day as well. Although Ashwaganda is great for treating stress and anxiety, I wouldn’t suggest Ashwaganda as a sleep tonic. I heard a few clients used it at night, some slept like logs and others were wide awake. I know it lowers the Cortisol levels but what you might not know is that another benefit is that it increases endurance and stamina - in other words, your energy levels.
Thus, Ashwaganda is great to use in the mornings - before work or your Pilâtes session (also note that muscle strength benefit mentioned earlier). It will help you deal with any surprises that you might encounter during the day. It will help you cope better with stressful situations and make you feel calmer during anxious periods.
Then another benefit of Ashwaganda is that it helps people that feel depressed. It increases their mood, takes away the brain fog and gives them the energy boost they need to get through the day. Most people with depression feel overwhelmed - it either makes them feel depressed, or anxious - in some cases - both. Ashwaganda is great with helping these individuals cope.
Also, people with Adrenal Fatigue., you know that feeling of burnout or just plain 'gatvol' - after a long day or a long season at work (we all know that Christmas time rush) or even after dealing with a very traumatic or stressful event (think lawyers or police)», this is a great time to dose your body with adaptogens like Ashwaganda. The best would be actually be to start taking it before these stressful times, but that isn't always possible.
To sum up: I think we can all do with a dose of Ashwaganda now and then. It just makes life so much easier. It helps you get over the speed bumps a little quicker and makes 'adulting' a little more bearable.
You get Ashwaganda in many different forms - Capsules, Tincture or Powder - choose the one that's going to be the least stressful for you to take. We all know which one will fit best into our busy lifestyles.