WHAT IS ASHWAGANDHA?

Ashwagandha, or Indian ginseng, and also known as withania somnifera (WS), is an adaptogen herb known in Ayurvedic medicine. As an adaptogen, Ashwagandha helps the body to respond to stress by bringing the adrenal system back to normal levels.  The adrenal glands are the body’s mechanism for responding to stress.   When we are stressed, the body releases the hormone cortisol, “the stress hormone,” but constant stress and high cortisol levels can affect every system in your body.  Ashwagandha is a herb known to lower cortisol levels.

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STRESS RESPONSE

Studies on adults have shown that consumption of 300mg of Ashwagandha daily reduced cortisol levels with no serious side effects (3).  High cortisol levels are linked with hormonal disruptions, excess body fat in the abdominal area, and higher rates of inflammation and disease.

CHRONIC DISEASE

Due to its antioxidant properties, WS has been found to be helpful for those suffering from chronic disease, both in the stress response and immunomodulation.  It has also been shown to increase energy in these patients, who are usually lacking energy.

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MEMORY

WS was shown to have an antioxidant affect on the brain, and is thought to protect brain cells, improving memory.  This is great news for anyone suffering from memory loss due to aging, poor diet, inflammation or other causes.

MOBILIZES IMMUNE RESPONSE

In mice, WS contributed to activation of macrophages, phagocytosis, and increased activity of the lysosomal enzymes.  Additionally, increases in red blood cell count, white blood cell count, platelet count and hemoglobin were seen when mice were given WS.  These results have shown that WS can help quell inflammation, including arthritis conditions.

WS has also been implicated in jet lag to boost the immune system and help the body to get on track.

Withania somnifera has much potential for use in the functional community and for those looking for a more natural remedy for elevated cortisol, a lower functioning immune system, inflammation and memory issues.

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HOW TO SUPPLEMENT

Powder can be used in smoothies, or you can make a warm elixir with the powder and hot water or a latte with coconut milk.   Capsules can be taken 100-300 mg before bed.

(1) Wallace, Edward. http://www.chiro.org/nutrition/FULL/Adaptogenic_Herbs.shtml
(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10956379
(3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23439798
(4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3252722/

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