At first glance it seems strange that a plant that gives us energy is also able to help us sleep better, but that’s exactly what Ashwagandha is capable of doing. This plant, originally from the high mountains of the Himalayas, has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine, due to its numerous beneficial health effects.
Its name can be translated as “it smells like a horse”, due to its characteristic smell. There are also those who say that this name meant that it could “make us strong like a horse”, given its invigorating capabilities and increased energy levels , also known as Indian Ginseng.
Ashwagandha or Withania somniferait is a plant that belongs to the solenaceae family, like the tomato, and like this one it also has red fruits and yellow flowers – but it is its roots that are used for medicinal purposes .
What is Ashwaghandha used for ?
It is considered an adaptogen plant, which means that it is capable of increasing our adaptability and resistance to extreme conditions of cold, stress, physical or psychological demands. One of its effects is to optimize the functioning of our adrenal glands, improving our response to stress.
This plant is capable of stimulating the immune system, increasing our energy levels, and at the same time decreasing excessive cortisol production. Since excessive levels of cortisol are the most common cause of insomniaassociated with stress, this plant is often used to treat this type of insomnia. Furthermore, ashwaghanda was even able to reveal anxiolytic effects similar to lorazepam (a drug used to treat anxiety), and also revealed anti-depressant effects.
It has also been considered as a plant capable of increasing our memory capacity and cognitive ability due to its antioxidant capabilities and its ability to increase the activity of the acetylcholine receptor. It has also revealed very interesting results in Alzheimer’s disease.
How is it taken?
It can be taken as an infusion, and for that the root must be boiled for 15 minutes. Its more bitter taste can be disguised using other herbs or fruits in the preparation of this infusion. It is also sold in powder form where it can be added to drinks – preferably with a sweeter flavor to mask its more bitter taste. The biggest problem is that this way it is extremely difficult to accurately quantify the amount of active ingredient you are ingesting.
It is also possible to take ashwagandha in tablet form.– not only is it a way to overcome its taste, but it also allows the quantification of the active ingredients we are ingesting. Its effect is slow, so you should take it daily for a few weeks to be able to observe the fullness of its beneficial effects.
When taken in the morning, ashwagandha boosts your energy levels, and when taken in the evening it helps you sleep better.
Precautions to be taken when using it:
Despite being considered relatively safe, there are certain precautions to be taken when taking ashwaghandha. As this plant has a sedative effect on the central nervous system, caution is advised for anyone taking drugs for the same effect, particularly barbiturates, and the consumption of alcoholic beverages should be avoided.
When used in high doses, ashwagandha can induce miscarriages, which is why it is not recommended for pregnant women.
Given its effect of stimulating the immune system, its use in patients taking immunosuppressants must be done with great caution, or even not recommended.
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