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Ashwagandha - Strength and Vitality

Updated: Jan 20


Botanical Name: Withania Somnifera Dunal

Parts Used: Roots, leaves, flowers, bark, stem

Energetics (Dravyaguna):

Rasa/Taste - Pungent (katu), Bitter (tikta), Astringent (kashaya)

Qualities/Guna- Unctuous (snigdha), Light (laghu)

Potency/Virya - Hot (ushna)

Post digestive function - Pungent (katu)

Dosha Compatibility: Pacifies vata and kapha, Aggravates or increases pitta

Here is how,

Pacifying Vata: Imbalanced vata is the root of worry and an overactive mindset. When our Prana is thus out of balance, it sets off our perception and how we see at the world. Ashwagandha has a lovely way at calming the mind, bringing down stress and in turn, benefiting the physical body too.

Pacifying Kapha: Kapha is the building block that provides stability and love to the body. Ashwagandha aids by helping promote muscle growth and improving metabolic efficiency. The bitter and astringent qualities help to pacify kapha imbalances too. Ashwagandha is also one of the few ‘ojas building herbs’ - the pure essence of kapha.

Aggravating Pitta: Pitta controls a lot of mechanisms in the body that need/use heat or fire (as per the panchamahabhutas - five elements). Ashwagandha acts like a lovely warm and comforting blanket which can aggravate pitta even further -causing further imbalances.


More about the Plant:

This herb grows 3-5 feet tall and grows well in nutrient rich well drained soil - not tolerating waterlogged or damp soil. The greyish, subshrub has yellow or greenish flowers that are followed by small, spherical, orange/red berries containing yellow, kidney shaped seeds. The leaves are velvet, smooth edged, shaped like teardrops and alternatively arranged.

A revered plant within Ayurvedic medicine for its benefits in energy and reducing stress, the sanskrit word Ashwagandha is a combination of two, ‘ashwa’ horse and ‘gandha’ smell -meaning ‘smell of a horse’.

This imagery is to encourage the idea that when taking this herb, you will develop the strength and vitality of a horse. This beautiful adaptogenic herb addresses physiological, emotional and psychological events and guides our bodies through this. The revitalisation of bodily functions is valued for it’s nerve-protective, anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory properties.


Ashwagandha has been a popular herb in several traditional medicine systems like Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, Sowa Rigpa, Homeopathy and other folk medicine - the oldest system of use being in Ayurveda which is at least 5000 years old. This herb features in detail in Caraka Samhita- an important foundational medical text- which features Ashwagandha as an ingredient in various formulations for treatment in skin, respiratory, rheumatic, paediatric and debilitating conditions.

It has been found in Unani medicine which originates in Ancient Greece that ‘asgandh’ was used to treat ageing, stress and to improve fertility. A Persian physician from medieval times wrote about the use of ‘asgandh’ in his books. In 1984, the Indian government published the National Formulary of Unani Medicines which standardised formulations that included ‘asgandh’.


Here are more specific ways Ashwagandha can benefit us,


Mind and Soul

Stress & Anxiety: As often discussed, one of the famous benefits of ashwagandha is stress and anxiety relief. This herb regulates the vata dosha which soothes symptoms like irritation, sleeplessness and overthinking. Ashwagandha is so powerful, studies suggest that it lowers cortisol levels in chronically stressed people with no adverse side effects.


Energy: Ashwagandha helps us with our energy in several different capacities. This herb is proven to show significant impact on heart and lung capacity whilst simultaneously increasing energy levels too. Another benefit is that it has calming effects to relieve symptoms of adrenal fatigue associated with stress. By rejuvenating this imbalance in the adrenal glands and thyroid, we can claim back its energy for itself mentally and physically.


Body

Immunity Booster: By comforting and balancing our digestive systems and fight or flight responses, the body will naturally build up its immunity again. Stress puts our immune system in compromised state which allows us to become sick much quicker. The bioactive and antioxidant components of ashwagandha brings down inflammation in the body and produces a calming effect. By using this herb, you can promote immunity and longevity in yourself.


Stamina & Muscle Growth: Ashwagandha is very popular and well-loved amongst gym goers as it has sparked interest in aesthetics. Those who took ashwagandha in the recommended dose, noticed reductions in body fat, lower cholesterols, increased muscle strength and endurance! Only take ashwagandha for these reasons after consulting an Ayurvedic Practitioner.


Beauty

Skin: Ashwagandha helps in several skin conditions like acne, dull/dry skin, skin reparation. It also promotes healthy repairs in anti-stress signs and plumping actions. With acne, ashwagandha has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory actions, it deeply cleanses the tissues to ensure acne does not bother or fester in the skin. This herb also contains hyaluronic acid which hydrates the skin, bestowing lovely smooth and lustrous effect. Ashwagandha also minimises natural secretion of oils on the face without stripping natural oils meaning it retains the natural balance of moisture. The antioxidant aspect of Ashwagandha boosts production of collagen which ensures deep nourishment of the skin and renewal of dead skin cells. The overall effect of ashwagandha on the skin will leave you look radiant.


Hair: Ashwagandha helps and encourages health of the hair. By using infused tea, this herb acts as a rejuvenator which toughens up the hair follicles and reduces scalp hair loss. Ashwagandha has benefits for hair growth when taken as a Rasayana (rejuvenating medicine - lengthening lifespans and invigorating the body) too! An interesting use of this herb is that it can increase hair pigment due to increasing the haemoglobin and relieving stress which benefits the black pigment in the hair.


Best ways to use:

Tea, Capsules/Tablets, topically, Paste


Weight/Muscle Gain Tea: Ashwagandha powder can be boiled with milk for many conditions -especially to help with weight gain and building muscle. When boiling with ashwagandha, the energising and nourishing qualities are mixed in and is easier to digest. When taking before or after food, especially improves body strength.


Energy boost Tea or Tablet: Ashwagandha powder with boiled water in the morning is great for a sustained boost throughout your day. You’ll noticed the buzz lasts much longer than your morning coffee. You can also take a tablet of ashwagandha at your recommended dose which will have the same effect once your body has broken it down.


Ashwagandha with Gokshura: Both herbs acts as a diuretic which helps to clear out the kidney and urinary system. This organ system is known to emotionally hold fear and anxiety meaning this combination is effective in relieving mental and physical stress. This combination especially balances vata dosha. This combination is only advised to be taken after consulting with an Ayurvedic professional.




Try This:

Pure ashwagandha powder OR Capsules:

If you’re looking for an energy boost in an easy form, try our pure ashwagandha capsules that you can build into your daily routine. If you’re looking for a grounding practice to add into your day, whether that be morning or evening, we have ashwagandha churna that you can add to hot water or milk.Or try our spiced ashwagandha and chocolate drink for more of a treat!


Shine-On face oil (Kumkumadi oil with Ashwagandha included):

Our bestselling Shine-on face oil formula starts off with a beautiful base of sesame oil, an excellent oil to nourish your body. To this base, other ingredients are added such as saffron and ashwagandha making it a rich, all-in -one or the only needed face-care tool for skin that glows with health.


3 Dosha Massage Oil (with ashwagandha as one of the ingredients):

During everyday life, our doshas are working with each other to balance back into your body’s personalised equilibrium. Earthen Living’s 3 dosha massage oil is a tridoshic massage oil designed to provide your body a helping hand to bring you back to your natural state.


Relax Body Oil (with Ashwagandha as one of the ingredients):

One of our key oils in our mum and baby range is ‘Relax’. This warming sesame based oil has over thirty different herbs -including ashwagandha- to help energise and detoxify, remove fatigue build strength in the muscles,improve circulation and rejuvenate the skin’s elasticity and lustre. This oil is lovely to encourage deeper sleep to ensure relaxation.

This oil can be bought separately or as part of the ‘Janani’ post-natal kit -for the new mum and the new baby.


Rasayanas invigorate and rejuvenate the body through a variety of elements depending on which herbs you use - our ashwagandha rasayana is a lovely nervine tonic and strength builder. This is a supplement that can help to soothe your nervous system and build strength, build better immunity to help reveal your true self.


Cautions:

Though side effects with ashwagandha are rare, we encourage you to make an informed decision - Earthen Living advocates for getting Ayurvedic Practitioner advice before taking a herbal supplement. Get in touch with us if you need to find the right practitioner or would like to know more about a specific product and its suitability for you.


* Ashwagandha can cause reactions in those with nightshade allergies or sensitivities.

* Ashwagandha can interfere with thyroid tests or aggravate existing conditions - Ashwagandha can also help with thyroid conditions, please consult a Practitioner.

* Ingestion of ashwagandha may not be appropriate for pregnant or nursing mothers as it may cause contractions/miscarriage during pregnancy.

* Large amounts can effect those especially with a pitta dominany body with stomach issues such as ulcers.




Research/reference list

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