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What Is Ashwagandha? Uses and Benefits

We’re big fans of this ayurvedic herb, but what does it do, and how do you pronounce it? Keep reading.

 

Ashwagandha is a hot topic right now. Granted, it’s been around for at least 6,000 years, but you’ve likely heard it at your yoga studio or from a fellow shopper while browsing at Whole Foods Market. It’s more than just a trend, though—ashwagandha really stands up to the hype. Join the conversation (and try this herb for yourself). Here is what you need to know about this ayurvedic herb. 

What Is Ashwagandha?
First, pronounce it properly: ah-shwa-gon-da. Ashwagandha is an herb popularized by the Indian ayurvedic practice of medicine. It is used as a tonic to treat a wide range of symptoms, but it is also consumed regularly as part of a health-optimizing protocol to prevent the onset of certain ailments and their co-occurring symptoms. Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic compound—a substance used in herbal medicine that fosters homeostasis within the body. Adaptogens are regarded for their anti-fatiguing and anti-stress properties. Given these abilities, the ayurvedic practice believes ashwagandha “promotes a youthful state of physical and mental health and expands happiness.” Yes, please. We all need that in our lives. 

In its purest form, ashwagandha is a green leafy plant with small white flowers, yellow pollen, and tan roots. All parts of the plant—the root, leaves, seeds, and flowers—have been used for various purposes since 6000 BC (likely earlier, though this was the first known documentation of ashwagandha). Ancient peoples would turn it into a powder or paste. Today, ashwagandha is most commonly found in powdered, pill, or extract varieties. 

Benefits of Ashwagandha
As an adaptogen, ashwagandha inhibits stress in the body—but that is not limited to mental stress brought on by a hectic day or bad breakup. Physical stress occurs when you exercise, digest food, fight off a cold, heal from a wound—anything that demands the body function beyond its resting (or homeostatic) state. Ashwagandha helps the body manage that stress so you don’t feel as much of a toll. 

Animal-based studies have demonstrated several benefits of ashwagandha. Researchers have noticed enhanced physical performance, reduced cortisol levels, and anti-ulcerogenic properties of this herb when given to rats.

Human studies have also observed ashwagandha’s positive effects on cognition and neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. It may also act as a natural antidepressant and mood-booster when consumed over time. Some studies have also found ashwagandha to relieve anxiety and mental stress. 

Essentially, ashwagandha helps your body adapt (get it, adaptogen?) to the world and the stresses that come with it. In a way, it is a one-size-fits all herb. Certainly, ashwagandha is not a cure for disease nor is it guaranteed to prevent illness, but it could offer one more layer of defense when it comes to managing physical and mental stressors when taken regularly. Unlike traditional medicine, ashwagandha requires time to take full effect. 

Where to Find Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is a popular herb and you can find it infused into tonics, powders, and even lattes at certain wellness-focused cafes. At 22 Days Nutrition, we incorporated ashwagandha into our Weight Management vitamin pack, Stress pack, and Energy pack. No need to mask the taste by mixing it with juice—we packaged this herb in pill form so it’s literally easy to swallow. This pack also includes cinnamon extract, green coffee extract, and a plant-based probiotic to give you the complete package when it comes to maintaining your weight and energy levels. 

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