What is Ashwagandha, Ashwagandha benefits What is Ashwagandha, Ashwagandha benefits

What is Ashwagandha and How is it Revolutionizing Wellness

Sometimes, it can seem impossible to slow down in such a fast-paced world, and when we get those still moments, we may feel too tired or restless. 

More often, people are looking towards traditional medicine and holistic approaches to stress, anxiety, and depression. These plant-based alternatives provide an exciting opportunity to minimize the myriad of side effects of pharmaceuticals such as Benzodiazepines. 

Looking at the vast Materia Medica of ayurvedic plants, ashwagandha stands out for its efficacy in treating symptoms of anxiety. This beneficial herb has also been linked to improved athletic performance and restful sleep. 

In this article, we will dive deep into the health benefits of ashwagandha. If you or a loved one has been experiencing chronic burnout or nervousness, this could be an amazing and accessible option to ease symptoms. 

what is Ashwagandha, Ashwagandha root

What is Ashwagandha?

In Ayurvedic practice, this plant is considered a Rasayana, a ‘rejuvenator’ known for its many health benefits. 

The earliest uses of ashwagandha date back centuries ago. It is a small evergreen shrub with delicate yellow flowers native to India and Southeast Asia. Its name comes from Sanskrit, translating to “smell of the horse” (Ashwa meaning "horse" and gandha meaning "smell"), which may refer to the aroma of ashwagandha and its potent effects. 

Also known as winter cherry and Indian ginseng, ashwagandha is a part of the Solanaceae or nightshade family - like potatoes and tomatoes. Its roots and leaves are the primary source of its medicinal components.

The roots and leaves are broken down into extracts or powder forms, which can be turned into capsules, tinctures, or emulsions. 

Plant medicines originating from India, like ashwagandha, have been popularized worldwide. Widespread access to ashwagandha has further propelled medical research on this root to discover there’s a lot of promising science behind the benefits of this herb. 

To better understand ashwagandha benefits, we must first know how it works. 

What is ashwagandha used for?

Does Ashwagandha work

You may be surprised by the actual range of ashwagandha’s benefits. Currently, people seek out ashwagandha for three primary reasons: stress, physical vitality, and to aid in more restful sleep.

It has been used to support athletic and mental performance with its strengthening and energizing qualities. Additionally, it is helpful for different neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson's, dementia, and stress-induced diseases. 

What does it feel like?

You may feel a range of experiences when taking Ashwagandha. Its calming, pain relieving, and mentally clarifying effects are the most common. Ashwagandha will gently lower blood pressure, reduce swelling, and calm the brain, protecting it from mental and physical stressors. 

On rare occasions, some have noted a strong negative emotional side effect while using ashwagandha. It could feel like emotional numbness and desensitization. However, following proven dosing standards can prevent the most unpleasant effects. 

How ashwagandha works

Though ashwagandha’s primary action in the body happens within the nervous system, this affects many of the body’s necessary processes. It plays a significant role in regulating the body, specifically targeting the parts of us that:

  • Improve mood

  • Balance hormones

  • Boost immune function

  • Fight fatigue

  • Increase energy

  • Alleviate anxiety 

  • Manage stress and emotional reactions

  • Improve performance and focus

Ashwagandha contains both oil and water-soluble constituents. Consuming it with plenty of water and healthy fats is essential for full-spectrum benefits.

These compounds include sterols and steroid saponins like sitoindosides and acyl steryl glucosides, contributing to the plant's anti-stress effects. 

Many of the active compounds in ashwagandha are serotonin agonists or other neurotransmitters. Through these molecular interactions, ashwagandha can manage stress and inflammatory response – the two most common roots of all diseases. 

The benefits of ashwagandha

As mentioned before, ashwagandha has a wide range of ways to improve your well-being: 

It may reduce stress and anxiety

Researchers are curiously exploring the effects of stress relieving, believing they occur via its moderating effect on the brain’s hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis Ashwagandha root extract proves highly beneficial for seniors, enhancing overall well-being and promoting better sleep.

Improves athletic performance

A survey of five studies found that ashwagandha supplements enhance maximum oxygen consumption in healthy adults and professional athletes. 

Possible alternative to manage symptoms of mental health disorders

There is a significant amount of preliminary research on how ashwagandha can suppress and regulate symptoms of depression, insomnia, and bipolar disorder. This 2021 review concludes ashwagandha has a high potential to help manage depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Despite these promising reports, we have much more to do before fully understanding therapeutic efficacy.

Supports boosting testosterone and increases fertility in men

In the same study that observed ashwagandha for stress relief, regular dosing increased testosterone levels in males, but not in females. However, further examination is needed to make definitive claims.

Reduce inflammation

Ashwagandha’s anti-inflammatory properties offer a powerful way to improve performance and recovery in high-impact sports. Using the exact mechanisms, ashwagandha relieves chronic pain and health conditions related to inflammation in the body. In a 2021 study, COVID-19 patients treated with ashwagandha saw a significant reduction in inflammation within the seven days of treatment. 

It may improve sleep quality 

Ashwagandha was found to reduce night-time anxiety, improve overall sleep quality, and minimize drowsiness in the morning. In a five-study review, patients with insomnia were able to see this same type of improvement while taking 600 mg daily for 8 weeks.

Herbalist and Ayurvedic use of ashwagandha

This excellent adaptogenic plant increases the body’s ability to adapt to and resist stress. Adaptogens are a classification of herbs that manage stress and balance the nervous system. It is relatively easy to prepare and can be orally and topically dosed. Based on the classifications within Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha has one of the most diverse ranges of uses.

Ayurvedic benefits of ashwagandha


These are herbs that have soothing properties both for the mind and body. These can often repair damage done by chronic stress and maintain homeostasis in the nervous system.


These seem almost the ‘magic potion’ of the herbalist world. These substances help the body manage stress and restore balance after stressful situations. Adaptogens are potent and increase resistance to stress while decreasing sensitivity to stressors.

Though they don’t specifically repair the body, they protect and see you through those challenging moments. 


Herbs and compounds that prevent or inhibit the growth or formation of tumors.


Medicines considered tonics are restorative and nourishing remedies.

Tonics are often meant to be used consistently over long durations of time. They often have an affinity for specific body systems, such as the immune, cardiovascular, and nervous systems. 


Compounds that are used to reduce and treat symptoms of anxiety. A common way that anxiolytics work to diminish anxiety is by blocking certain chemicals in the nervous system. They can play a significant role in how intense stress feels. 


Herbs in this category help the body regulate inflammatory processes. This can occur in both hard and soft tissue throughout the entire body. Though some inflammation shows our body can fight infections and heal, acute inflammation can lead to more severe health conditions if unmanaged.

One critical thing to remember when choosing your preparation methods is that ashwagandha has a reverse tolerance effect. This means that frequent and habitual use will increase the anxiolytic effects. Without a tolerance increase, like many other anti-anxiety medications, ashwagandha may offer a safer long-term alternative for symptom relief. 

Remedy preparations

Decoction & Tea

Boil one teaspoon of dried ashwagandha per one cup of water, let this blend simmer for 20-45 minutes. At home, you can powderize the dried root in a coffee grinder or Vitamix. Add flavorful herbs, cinnamon, and ginger to make it even more enjoyable. To lean into Indian tradition, combine this tea with milk for a smooth and creamy treat. 

Recommended use: Up to 3 cups a day


To blend a concentrated tincture with dry roots (more focused than fresh), fill a glass jar with roots and top off with 80-100 proof food-grade alcohol. Cover and store for 4-6 weeks.

Pour this blend over a cheesecloth or fine filter to remove the plant matter from the liquid. Squeeze any remaining liquid from the root material and bottle for use.

For alcohol-free tinctures, glycerine can be used to extract the medicinal compounds. This requires a similar process, using glycerin and water in 1:1 or 3:1. 

Recommended use: Take ¼ teaspoon 3 times a day

Ghee & Honey

Dried, powdered root can be whipped into ghee and honey for a quick, sweet, savory medicine spoonful. Many tablet, gummy, or liquid Ashwagandha extract supplements make dosing ashwagandha safe and easy if you’re new to herbal medicine. 

Recommended use: take 250-500 mg per day for 30 days

Safety and side effects

Many herbal products intended for oral use are marketed as dietary supplements. If you are new to herbal remedies, it is always a good idea to consult a trusted medical professional before taking them regularly. You should avoid taking ashwagandha if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, immunocompromised, undergoing surgery, or taking thyroid hormone medications. Taking ashwagandha with thyroid hormone pills might cause too much thyroid hormone in the body and increase the effects and side effects of thyroid hormone.

Ashwagandha may interact with common medications that treat nervous system disorders like anxiety and depression. Medications like benzodiazepines, anticonvulsants, or barbiturates may have intensified effects if taken with ashwagandha. 

There is a positive side to some of ashwagandha’s drug interactions when it comes to mixing it with other beneficial herbs. For instance, herbs like rhodiola and ginseng have been shown to reduce fatigue and improve cognitive functions when paired together.

There are several creative ways to mix and match herbs to amplify one or more of their benefits - this is a fun process to explore on your wellness journey. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What does Ashwagandha do for your body?

Research suggests that Ashwandha could enhance memory and cognitive function.

Who should avoid Ashwagandha?

It is advised to avoid ashwagandha in pregnancy as it can cause severe nausea. Ashwagandha isn't recommended for patients undergoing surgery or for patients with autoimmune thyroid problems or other disorders.

What happens when you take ashwagandha daily?

Ashwagandha is known to have potential health benefits in calming anxiety symptoms or physical and mental stress. Using daily 240 mg of ashwagandha can significantly decrease people's stress levels. This can be reduced by a low corticosterone level, which helps relieve anxiety.

Does Ashwagandha make you sleepy?

Ashwagandha is known for its stress-reducing properties, which can indirectly promote better sleep by alleviating anxiety and stress. However, it does not typically induce sleepiness directly like a sedative would.

Are there any side effects of ashwagandha?

Yes, ashwagandha may cause side effects in some individuals, including nausea, diarrhea, and upset stomach. It's always best to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement.

What is the benefit of taking ashwagandha?

Taking ashwagandha can offer several benefits including reducing stress and anxiety, improving sleep quality, enhancing strength and stamina, and supporting overall well-being.

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