Jessica Bippen, MS, RD, shares what ashwagandha is, its health benefits, how to take it, and more.
Sure, you can think of ashwagandha as natural Xanax—but it’s so much more than that! Here’s how it works to effectively fight stress. Plus: what you need to know about the taste…
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is a small woody plant with yellow flowers native to India. The root of this plant has been a staple in Ayurvedic medicine for over 3,000 years as a way to help heal various ailments.
Traditionally, it’s used to:
- manage stress
- improve energy
- combat signs of aging
- lower inflammation
How does ashwagandha work?
Curious as to what makes this ancient plant so great?
Ashwagandha falls into a category of plants called adaptogens. Adaptogens include herbs and other plants that help bring our adrenals and nervous system back into balance.
Simply put, adaptogens help our bodies better cope with both internal and external stressors.
Ashwagandha Health Benefits
The benefits of ashwagandha are more than ancient folklore. In fact, modern science confirms many of ashwagandha’s various health benefits.
As previously mentioned, ashwagandha is prized most for its stress-fighting effects—hence the nod to natural Xanax. Indeed, several studies show that it can effectively reduce symptoms of stress in people who struggle with chronic worry and feelings of anxiousness.
Research also supports that ashwagandha helps lower cortisol levels. (Cortisol is a hormone your adrenal glands produce in response to stress.) While a little cortisol is normal, chronic stress can lead to continuously elevated levels and thus potential health risks.
Helps Reduce Inflammation
Another benefit of ashwagandha is that it can also reduce low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and decrease markers of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein (CRP). It is one of the markers linked to an increased risk issues related to heart health.
Fortunately, a daily intake of 250 to 500 milligrams of ashwagandha over 60 days can reduce C-reactive protein levels by as much as 30 precent.
How To Take Ashwagandha
When it comes to ashwagandha, there’s truly something for everyone.
Ashwagandha comes in various forms, including powders, tinctures, capsules, and gummies.
Powders and tinctures are great to mix into lattes and smoothies. But fair warning: Ashwagandha does have a bitter taste. However, depending on your recipe and other spices you use, you may not be able to taste it.
Want to mask the taste or simply want something more convenient? We have you covered. HUM provides a wide range of ashwagandha forms, including:
A dosage of 300 to 500 milligrams of ashwagandha root extract is the standard recommendation.
However, if you take Sensoril—a patented, more potent form of ashwagandha, which is used in HUM’s Calm Sweet Calm stress gummies—a daily dosage of 125 milligrams works just as well.
When to Take It
I prefer to take ashwagandha in the morning with breakfast. However, it’s perfectly fine to space out your dosage throughout the day.
How long does it take for ashwagandha to work?
It’s important to note that taking ashwagandha isn’t going to provide an instant sense of calm. Remember: As great as it is, it’s not an instant magic elixir.
Ashwagandha works best when you take it consistently (read: every day). You should start to notice its benefits within a few weeks, but even more so within a few months.
Is ashwagandha safe?
In most cases, ashwagandha is safe to take. However, since this powerful adaptogen can affect blood sugar, inflammation, and hormones, it should be used with caution in some cases.
Individuals with autoimmune and greater health conditions may especially need to take caution before supplementing with it. In these cases, it’s especially important to consult your doctor before taking it.
One last caveat: This adaptogen is part of the nightshade family. So if you have a nightshade allergy or intolerance, it might be best to pass on this particular adaptogen.
The Bottom Line
Ashwagandha is a potent adaptogen that’s been used for centuries. While has a range of health benefits, it’s primarily relied on to manage chronic stress.
While you can’t take it once and expect instant relief, try incorporating it into your daily routine to take the edge off over time.