There has been a lot of interest lately in herbs and spices that are originating out of the continent of India and the surrounding regions; Ashwagandha is one of those herbs that people can’t seem to stop talking about. In this time when more people are looking to heal themselves naturally, Ashwagandha is one such herb that can address people’s health issues.
Ashwagandha is known an adaptogen herb. This means that it is an herb that allows the body to adjust itself towards the best health outcome depending on what the situation is. More importantly, this means that it boosts and strengthens the immune system and helps the body cope with all kinds of stressful situations. While there are many types of adaptogen herbs that exist today, Ashwagandha is one that is used most often and has also gained worldwide popularity because of the many ways that it can heal the body.
The Historical Context and Benefits of Ashwagandha.
For more than 5000 years, Ashwagandha has been a part of the major healing system of India, known as Ayurveda. This important holistic medical practice is also comparable to the Unani healing system of the middle east, and Traditional Chinese Medicine that is practiced in the orient. The whole of the plant is used from the stem, all the way down to the root for it’s healing properties. It’s leaves are ground into a powder and has been placed in teas and on foods in occasion. Historically, it has been used for a sedative, a diuretic and an anti-inflammatory. This is important to consider because many of most of the health issues that people are experiencing these days are issues related to inflammation. Some of the main benefits of Ashwagandha are:
- It has been linked to lower blood sugar levels.
- May have anti-cancer effects when taken regularly.
- Acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory.
- Helps support sustained energy levels.
- Has been shown to sustain brain health.
- Assist with balancing the heart rate.
- Works as a sedative on the nerves.
While Ashwagandha may have a deep history as a practical herb, it is also taken in these modern times for many debilitating health issues as well. Today, you may find many of its extracts in compound herbal treatments to treat coughs, colds, ulcers, emaciation, diabetes, intestinal infections and much more. But out of all the issues that it addresses; it’s effect on the nervous system may be one of the most important for our time. It seems that our society is much more stressed out than ever before; Ashwagandha can prove itself to be the herb for the new millennia because it addresses so many health problems.
Considerations Before Taking Ashwagandha.
Although it is a very potent and healing herb, a person needs to do their due diligence before taking it. Ashwagandha contains a high iron content and should not be taken during pregnancy. And because it also acts as a mild depressant, it should not be taken with alcohol, sedatives or any other anti-anxiety drugs. Also, there may be some contraindications with Ashwagandha and those who are taking thyroid medications.
Why Ashwagandha May Be the Most Important Herb in Our Time.
This just might be one of the most important herbs in our time. As a Doctor of Traditional Naturopathy, I say this because of the fact that this herb in known as an Adaptogen Herb. This means that it helps people adapt and adjust to all types of situations. So many people are dealing with so many issues at one time from anxiety all the way down to liver disease, Ashwagandha seems to be an herb that can affect all of this. Ashwagandha helps people gain the internal strength to heal themselves and get back to a place of balance. Lack of balance is why so many people are getting sick with so many issues today.
Mental Health and Ashwagandha.
While Ashwagandha should not be compared to traditional psychosomatic- pharmaceutical drugs on the market for mental health issues, many do take it for its calming effect on the mind. For those who are having mild stress and anxiety issues, Ashwagandha has shown some promise. Ashwagandha helps people with the relaxation response on their nervous system. Ashwagandha is able to deal with many of the issues related to anxiety and depression by adjusting cortisol levels in the body. As we know, excess cortisol keeps the stress flowing in the body and does a good job of keeping the happy feeling items like serotonin and dopamine down and hampered. When this happens over and over, feelings like sadness, anxiety and depression usually take over. When people take Ashwagandha at 300 mgs two times a day for two months, it has been shown to give them some help with feeling better. Just having this awareness alone can offer those who have been seeking a milder way to treat some of the issues that they have related to anxiety and stress, a much healthier way to do so.
As it was mentioned before, Ashwagandha just may be one of the most important herbs that we can take right now. But before taking it make sure you speak to your care provider before making any moves. Also, if you are taking other herbs at the same time it is important to check if there is any risk involved by mixing them. If you come to find out that its going to be a good fit, you will be glad that you took some time to make it a part of your life. Better physical and mental health is something that all of us could use more these days. With increased health and love to you and your families.
Dr. Daud Scott-N.D;-CHNP.