Learn about herbs (and other nutritive ingredients) Chapter 3: Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) is a small evergreen shrub with yellow flowers, native to the hot, dry climates of India, the Middle East and parts of Africa.
Used within the ancient Ayurvedic system for thousands of years, this power-packed herb has aroused the curiosity of modern science in recent times, leading to scientific investigation into the beneficial properties of the plant.
Preliminary studies have been hugely positive, revealing ashwagandha as possessing a wide range of potential health benefits, including the ability to reduce everyday stress and promote a calmer and happier sense of being.
On the basis of this growing body of evidence, here’s a breakdown of how and why to incorporate ashwagandha supplements into your daily health routine, along with information about the specific uses it may be good for.
What is ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is classed as an ‘adaptogen’ – an herbal substance that can support our ability to cope with normal everyday stress. In fact, it is the most widely used and commonly studied adaptogen (according to research by The Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine.)
The roots of the ashwagandha plant have been used for a variety of health benefits over thousands of years, with the fruit, leaves and seeds also being thought to have beneficial qualities.
Today, this herb is widely available as a supplement in many western countries, most commonly as an extract or in powder form (from the root.)
What are the health benefits of taking an ashwagandha supplement?
Addressing everyday stress
Ashwagandha is thought to boost feelings of well-being. For thousands of years, it has been used to produce a calming effect in the body. A study by the US National Library of Medicine in 2012 found that participants given a high concentration ashwagandha root extract exhibited a significant reduction in stress levels in relation to the placebo group.
Are ashwagandha supplements right for me?
Although ashwagandha supplements are thought to be safe for most people, certain individuals shouldn’t take them unless authorized by their doctor.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid taking it in any form along with anyone suffering with an autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and type 1 diabetes. If you have a stomach ulcer, ashwagandha supplements should also be avoided.
As with any supplement, you should speak with your doctor or another health professional if you have any concerns about interactions or adverse effects.
How should I take it?
Ashwagandha can be bought in capsule, powder or liquid form, with daily dosages ranging from 125 milligrams to 2 grams.
Currently, herbal and nutritive ingredients do not have established Reference Daily Intakes (RDI’s) from the FDA.
If you’re concerned about taking the right dosage for you, consult the directions on the label of the product you intend to take or speak with a health professional.
Are there any side effects?
Ashwagandha is generally thought to be well-tolerated in small to medium doses taken over the short term, but there haven’t yet been enough studies to examine the possible side effects if taken at high dosages or for long periods of time.
Mild to moderate side effects have been reported by users in clinical studies, including headaches, sleepiness and upset stomach. Rarely, allergic reactions and rapid heartbeat can also occur. If you are concerned about potential side effects, work with your doctor to find out if ashwagandha is right for you.
Though further clinical trials and studies are needed, it’s clear that this herb is packed with potential to help support a healthy mood.
Uleva Relax, containing 125mg of ashwagandha per capsule, is a great place to start for a daily hit of this powerful medicinal herb.