Ashwagandha: Uses & Benefits
Are you looking for a natural way to de-stress and gain a more relaxed physical and mental state? Ashwagandha is a powerful herb thought to offer rejuvenating effects for your health, stress levels, and overall well-being.
That said, what makes ashwagandha such a potent stress-relief agent? Why is it so widely used, and what are the health benefits that can come from the use of ashwagandha?
Today we will explore the uses, benefits, and effects of ashwagandha in detail. Read on to learn more about how you can support your physical and mental health with this adaptogenic herb, as well as ways you can incorporate ashwagandha into your routine.
What Is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha, also known as Indian ginseng, winter cherry, or by its scientific name Withania somnifera, is a woody, herbal shrub native to Southeast Asia, India, and Africa.
Components of its roots, leaves, and berries can help address a variety of different issues. As such, the shrub has been used in traditional medicine and Ayurveda for thousands of years to foster natural healing through a mind-body-spirit balance.
Ashwagandha is growing increasingly popular in Ayurvedic medicine, with the most common use for ashwagandha being stress management. Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, which means that it can help support the body’s ability to manage and cope with stress.
Ashwagandha also has antioxidant characteristics, which means that it can help support your overall well-being, too.
What Are the Health Benefits of Ashwagandha?
Some of the most common health benefits of ashwagandha include support for healthy cortisol levels, relaxation, and overall quality of life, as well as a reduction in feelings of occasional stress and stress-related food cravings.
Let's take a look at each of these benefits in more detail below.
Supports Healthy Cortisol Levels
Cortisol is a stress hormone that your adrenal glands produce to help regulate your stress response. When the body senses that you are exposed to stress, your adrenal glands release cortisol.
The elevated cortisol levels, in turn, elevate your blood sugar levels so that your body can have higher energy levels to deal with what it perceives to be a threatening situation. Elevated blood sugar levels, alongside an adrenaline release, help your body respond better to stress.
Usually, your cortisol levels return to normal within hours of the stressful event. However, if the triggering event or environment prolongs or repeats frequently, then you could begin to experience chronic stress and constantly elevated cortisol levels.
The elevated cortisol levels that come with chronic stress can lead to various adverse health effects, such as an increased risk for medical conditions, struggles with mental health, and a weakened immune system.
Ashwagandha can help support healthy cortisol levels, working to maintain your well-being during times of stress.
Helps Reduce Feelings of Occasional Stress
In addition to supporting healthy cortisol levels, ashwagandha can also offer support to your overall nervous system during a stress response, and may help reduce occasional feelings of stress as a result.
May Help Reduce Stress-Related Food Cravings
Stress can impact physical and mental health in a variety of ways, including that it can bring more food cravings. Often, stress-related food cravings are one of the ways our body tries to protect us from perceived danger in a stressful situation — our brain associates food with comfort and survival, and cravings can be a coping mechanism when our bodies are in "fight or flight" mode.
Ashwagandha may help reduce stress-related food cravings, particularly in those who experience chronically elevated stress levels. In one study, adults who were moderately overweight and experiencing chronic stress took ashwagandha supplements and saw a reduction in hunger and food cravings.
The study demonstrated reduced mental and physiological stress markers, encouraged better eating habits and fewer cravings, and supported some weight loss and a smaller body mass index.
Supports Stress Management
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, which means that it helps the body manage and resist stress.
Many different studies support ashwagandha’s stress management properties and emphasize that this herb can be a powerful calming agent that brings resiliency and relaxation during times of heightened stress.
In one clinical trial, patients dealing with stress were either given varying dosages of a placebo or of ashwagandha extract over a period of time. Those in the ashwagandha group scored noticeably lower on the stress marker test at the end of the experiment.
Another study, this one double-blind in addition to randomized and placebo-controlled, found very similar results — the groups taking ashwagandha extract saw a much more marked decrease in their stress assessment scale than those individuals who took the placebo extract.
Supports Overall Quality of Life
Ashwagandha has many health benefits that can support your overall quality of life. The healthy cortisol levels, stress relief, and feelings of relaxation that this herb can provide are all factors that may work to support overall emotional wellness.
The relaxed sensations that ashwagandha can help promote have a positive influence on sleep quality as well, and can help you fall asleep more easily and may even help you experience better sleep quality.
How Can I Incorporate Ashwagandha Into My Routine?
Ashwagandha comes in different supplement forms, including powder, tablet, or gummy forms. You can also find it in liquid form, as Ayurvedic medicine highly values ashwagandha as a Rasayana (tonic).
You can add ashwagandha powder or tonic to foods and drinks. You could blend it into your morning smoothie or sprinkle it on your oatmeal or cereal, for example.
As a tablet or gummy, you can simply take ashwagandha alongside your meals. With just two Lemme Chill gummies a day, twice a day, you can start to feel a sense of calm and relaxation as well as a drop in stress thanks to a clinical dose of KSM-66® ashwagandha.
It also includes a blend of botanicals, including passionflower, lemon balm and goji berry for additional wellness support.
Whether you choose to incorporate ashwagandha into your routine as a powder, tablet, tonic, or gummy, it is important to choose a supplement with a clinically-studied dose, like Lemme Chill. This ashwagandha gummy uses a full-spectrum ashwagandha root extract which has been proven in clinical studies to reduce occasional stress, support healthy cortisol levels, and reduce stress-related food cravings.
The Bottom Line
Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb whose medicinal stress-relief properties have been a part of Ayurvedic healing regimens for thousands of years. This calming herb is becoming increasingly popular in traditional medicine because it carries benefits that include healthy cortisol level support, aid in stress relief and feelings of relaxation, support for stress management, a reduction in stress-related food cravings, and enhanced overall quality of life.
If you think you could benefit from ashwagandha, talk to your healthcare provider about the best option for you and your daily routine. Whether you choose a powder, tablet, or gummy form of an ashwagandha supplement, make sure that you choose a supplement with a clinically studied dose, like Lemme Chill!
Check out our blog for more info on how to support your wellness, from gut health to stress management to nutrients and more!
Scientific Basis for the Therapeutic Use of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha): A Review | Alternative Medicine Review
Body Weight Management in Adults Under Chronic Stress Through Treatment With Ashwagandha Root Extract: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial | Journal of Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
[PDF] A Standardized Withania Somnifera Extract Significantly Reduces Stress-Related Parameters in Chronically Stressed Humans: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study | Semantic Scholar
A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults | NCBI