Why Ashwagandha Is Basically Nature’s Xanax

WRITTEN BY Jessica Bippen

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And 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 treat anxiety, improve energy, combat aging, lower inflammation, and even fight infection.

So what makes this ancient plant so great? Ashwagandha falls into a category of plants called adaptogens. Adaptogens are herbs or other plants that help bring our adrenals and nervous system back into balance. They help our bodies better cope with both internal and external stressors.

Ashwagandha Benefits - WELLNEST

Here’s What Studies Show

The benefits of ashwagandha are more than ancient folklore. In fact, modern science confirms many of ashwagandha’s various health benefits.

Ashwagandha is most notorious for its stress-lowering effects. (Thus the nickname of “nature’s Xanax.”) Indeed, several studies show that it can effectively reduce symptoms in people with stress and anxiety disorder. 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 good, chronic stress causes continuously elevated cortisol levels.

It can also reduce low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and decrease markers of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein (CRP). It’s is one of the markers linked to an increased risk of heart disease. A daily intake of 250 to 500 milligrams of ashwagandha over 60 days can reduce C-reactive protein levels by as much as 30%.

How to Use Ashwagandha - WELLNEST

How To Use It

Taking 300 to 500 milligrams of ashwagandha-root extract is the standard recommendation. It’s best to take it in the morning with breakfast or space out the dosage with meals throughout the day.

Ashwagandha comes in various forms and is widely available as powder, capsules, and tinctures. 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. If you want to mask the taste or just want something more convenient, taking ashwagandha in capsule form or in a blended superfood powder is probably your best option.

It’s also important to note that taking ashwagandha isn’t going to provide an instant sense of calm. Remember, it’s not a magic pill. Ashwagandha works best when you take it consistently. You should start to notice its benefits within a few weeks.

Ashwagandha Safety and Side Effects

Ashwagandha is safe for most people. However, it’s important to talk to your doctor before adding any new herbs or supplements into your routine.

Since this powerful herb can have an effect on blood sugar, inflammation, and hormones, it should be used with caution in some cases. Individuals with autoimmune diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, type-1 diabetes and Hashimoto’s may need to avoid it. If you’re on immunosuppressants, sedatives, or medications for blood pressure or thyroid hormones, it’s best to speak with your doctor before adding it to your routine.

One last caveat: This adaptogen is part of the nightshade family. If you have a nightshade allergy or intolerance, it might be best to pass on this particular adaptogen.

Bottom Line

Ashwagandha is a potent adaptogen that’s been used for centuries. It has a wide range of benefits, but is primarily helpful for reducing stress and anxiety. 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.

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