Ashwagandha. What is it? First off, it's pronounced "ash-wa-gan-da." It's an herb that's native to Asia and Africa, and has been called "Indian Ginseng." A part of the nightshade family, which includes potatoes, bell peppers, and chili peppers, ashwagandha contains most of its beneficial nutrients in its roots.
Most articles about ashwaganda seem to agree that its a superfood that can improve our health in various ways. The main benefit is the reduction of stress and anxiety. Ashwaganda is also linked, not proven, to the following health benefits by different scientific studies:
Reduce cortisol from stress
Reduce symptoms of depression
Ease arthritis-like symptoms like joint pain and inflammation
Assist with sleep
Increase red blood cell production
Increase hair melanin production (less gray hair)
Slow or stop nerve damage related to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's
Ashwaganda is also linked to boosting memory and muscle production. It's supposed to help with daily brain functions like task performance and focus, and studies have shown faster muscle growth and increased strength when individuals ingested ashwagandha before exercising. We've been told that this is because ashwagandha helps increase oxygen consumption. If we are able to absorb more oxygen per breath, we can improve mental clarity and intensify physically performance. (We've also been told that ashwagandha is a traditional supplement for mountaineers and sherpas since it helps us absorb more oxygen. Can anyone help us confirm?)
OK so how do we take this superfood and get its benefits? Aside from its natural leaf, seed, or root form, ashwagandha can come as a powder, capsule, or liquid extract. It's known to have astringent properties, so if you don't want to take the pill version, be prepared, it will taste bitter. People taken it with a spoonful of honey or mixed into milk. Others have tried it with smoothies, lattes, or teas. Try some and share with us what you think and how you take it!
Here are some articles to help you learn more about ashwagandha: