At Sacred Soma, we love discovering gems of assistance within Nature's Apocathary. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), also known as “Indian Winter cherry” or Indian Ginseng,” is a mainstay in our Superhero Supplementation Guidance. In Ancient Ayurvedic medicine, Ashwagandha is considered a Rasayana. Rasayana translates to "path of essence". This means that it is considered a supplement that helps maintain youth, both mentally and physically. As it comes to dealing with stress and anxiety, we have recommended Ashwagandha as a supplement to blunt the negative effects of cortisol - the stress hormone.
Many of the recent medial studies have compared the effects of Ashwagndha to the pharmaceutical drug lorazepam. Lorazepam is typically a drug used to treat anxiety. In a 2019, a human study found that taking 250mg of Ashwagandha when compared to placebo significantly reduced people's stress levels when compared to a placebo. This included both the physiological effects of stress reduction as well as the self reported stress levels.
Pain Relief and Ashwagandha
Pain relief seems to be one of the positive benefits to supplementing with Ashwagandha. There seems to be some stories of success that I have found of folks using Ashwagandha to treat pain from arthritis . Here's a quote from an anecdotal experience:
On the second day of taking Ashwagandha once a day (500 mg Withania somnifera extract standardized to contain 2.5% with anolides), I awakened to find the pain had decreased dramatically. I’ve been taking it now for a week, and the pain is almost completely gone.
The likely mechanism of action for this improvement from pain is because of Ashwagandha's anti-inflammatory properties. Much of the pain from arthritis is due to inflammation of the joints; and so a reduction and suppression in the inflammatory response is likely to provide the individual with some pain relief. Ashwagandha has been part of the traditional Indian medical system for centuries. This traditional Indian medical system is also known as Ayurveda.
Ashwagandha's Importance in Ayurveda
Ayurvedic medicine is the traditional medicine system in India. It’s a healing tradition that uses nutrition, exercise, mindfulness practices and herbs to promote balance between the body, mind, spirit and the environment. Ashwagandha is a classic herb in this ancient traditional medicine and has additional benefits besides the adaptogen benefits and stress relief.
This herb has been found to boost fertility in men by increasing sperm count and quality. It is an aphrodisiac and hence can increase libido as well as sexual stamina. Additionally, Ashwagandha may assist in improving hormone imbalances. It increases testosterone levels as well as boosts strength and vitality.
In women, Ashwagandha balances hormones, and is especially helpful for women going through menopause – it provides relief from symptoms such as mood swings and hot flashes. It boosts energy levels and steadies emotions. And just like for the male counterparts, Ashwagandha also boosts libido in women as well.
Including Ashwagandha in Your Supplementation Routine
Very little side effects are known about Ashwagandha, although there is some impact on the thyroid function. There is some research with Ashwagandha and its affects on thyroid function, and so if you have an over/active Thyroid it may not be something that you should supplement with. It also might interact with MAO inhibitors such as selegiline, phenelzine or tranylcypromine in the sense that it may reduce their effect. For the most part, supplementation practice is highly individual and is very much related to the Ayurvedic concept of a personal constitution.
Nature's Apocathary featuring Ashwagandha
We have our own Ashwagandha available for purchase from the Sacred Soma Store for just $15 for a moon cycle amount - this amounts to 28 days.
We do live in a world that is full of stress; and when the stress becomes chronic; so does the anxiety, cortisol and stress response. Luckily enough for us, Nature has blessed us with an Apocathary of helping healer plants and herbs. Knowing which ones suit us best on an individual level is part of the joy in discovering our place on this earth as a human being!
We also have a LIVE and Virtual Event coming up regarding how to craft your own Supplementation Practice on Sunday June 18th.
Have you ever tried supplementing with Ashwagandha? How did you find it?
Joshi VK, Joshi A. Rational use of Ashwagandha in Ayurveda (Traditional Indian Medicine) for health and healing. J Ethnopharmacol. 2021 Aug 10;276:114101. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2021.114101. Epub 2021 Apr 5. PMID: 33831467.