What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is an ancient medicinal herb frequently used in ayurveda; a form of alternative medicine based on Indian principles of natural healing. Its other names include Indian ginseng, winter cherry and poison gooseberry, maybe because of its close resemblance to the cape gooseberry – except it is red in colour rather than yellow.
The name ‘ashwagandha’ is a combination of ‘ashva’ meaning horse, and ‘gandha’ which means smell. This refers not only to the odour of the plant roots which are reported to smell like horse sweat, but also to the powers of the herb which are believed to give the ‘patient’ the strength of a stallion.
Withinia Somnifera is the botanical name for the ashwagandha plant and it is part of the nightshade family. Other members of the family include tomatoes, potatoes and tobacco…!! The herb is cultivated in the dry regions of India, but is also grown in the Middle East. The roots of the plant are ground to a powder and applied in ayurvedic medicine although the whole plant can be put to good use.
INTERESTING FACT: The berries can be used as a substitute for rennet in cheese making.
What are the Benefits of Using Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha has been used in India for centuries to treat a wide variety of conditions including insomnia, general weakness and exhaustion, inflammation, hormone imbalances and lots more (far too many to list here!!).
It’s most common use is to treat conditions of stress and anxiety including depression and extreme fatigue. It’s also been reported to improve memory, help maintain skin health, boost general immunity and assist in strengthening the immune system and ease the pain after illness, chemotherapy or surgery.
Ashwagandha seems to offer a huge range of possibilities and benefits for improving general health and well being, although perhaps surprisingly, not much is known about how it actually works in the body.
How Should I Take Ashwagandha???
Ashwagandha is traditionally taken as a dietary supplement. It is commonly available in a powder or capsule form. In its powder form, it is often mixed with a sweetener like honey and added to a drink. Ashwagandha tea is made by reducing a mixture of milk, ashwagandha, honey and water. This is taken before bedtime as a way to promote restfulness and alleviate insomnia.
Ashwagandha can also be applied topically to help treat wounds and skin conditions. Simply make a paste by mixing the powder with a few drops of water and apply directly to the affected area.
The recommended daily dose of ashwagandha taken as a supplement is between 2 and 6 grams, depending on the condition it’s being used to treat. It is advisable to choose the highest quality supplement that you can find – certified organic is best, and if you’re buying capsules, make sure that there are no added fillers or additives. The products from Green Trading contain no additives and they are certified organic by BioGro.
It is always recommended to consult a medical professional before embarking on any long term form of medication or dietary supplement and it should be noted that that use of ashwagandha is not recommended for people with any sort of autoimmune disease or those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
You’ll find a selection of Ashwagandha and other organic herbal supplements in our Natural Dietary Supplements category.