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Anxiety & Stress
Written By: Emily Spring
Do you ever feel stressed? If you can honestly answer that question with a no, then bravo, we all want to know your secret. But for the rest of us mere mortals, stress is a normal and often unavoidable part of life that we deal with on a daily basis.
If you’ve looked into ways to help manage your stress, you may have come across Ashwagandha. But what is Ashwagandha? Does it really reduce stress? Are there any other supplements to reduce cortisol levels? And are there other benefits of taking Ashwagandha?
This article will give you a complete overview of Ashwagandha, exploring its history, reviewing its health benefits, explaining how to take Ashwagandha, and analyzing the safety of taking Ashwagandha.
Ashwagandha, or Withania Somnifera as it’s known scientifically, is an herb grown in Asia and Africa. You may also hear it referred to as:
For over six thousand years Ashwagandha has been used in the traditional form of Indian medicine called Ayurveda as:
Ashwagandha has also been used in many forms. It has been ingested, used as a paste, and given as a fresh Ashwagandha powder. Today, it is classified as a dietary supplement in western society and you are most likely to find Ashwangandha sold in capsule form.
What are the health benefits of Ashwagandha? As you can see, the shrub has been used for many different purposes over the years, but are we sure of its benefits? The answer can be complicated.
Since the FDA classifies Ashwagandha as a dietary supplement and not as a drug, it is not subject to the same level of testing that a typical drug would. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. It does mean that many of the Ashwagandha adaptogenic herb health benefits are potential benefits as opposed to proven.
However, one benefit of Ashwagandha that has been studied the most and has the most evidence behind it is the one we mentioned at the start: stress relief.
If you’ve heard of Ashwagandha, you’ve probably heard of its ability to help with stress and anxiety. That’s one of the most popular uses not just because most of us are in search of stress level reduction, but because there’s good evidence supporting Ashwagandha’s ability to help relieve stress.
Ashwagandha’s effects on stress have been tested in both animal and human studies and have shown that it is effective in reducing stress when compared to a placebo.3
Note: Ashwagandha root extract is not meant to treat anxiety disorders and you should talk to your doctor before starting any new regimen. But there is strong evidence that Ashwagandha may help you if you are dealing with stress or anxiety.
While the most persuasive evidence for Ashwagandha’s medicinal herb effectiveness is related to it being used for stress relief, that’s not all it can be used for. Remember, Ashwagandha has been around for over six thousand years and it may be beneficial to:
It is important to remember that while Ashwagandha, herbal medicine, and/or ayurvedic medicine may be helpful in many ways, it is not meant to take the place of traditional medicine. For major conditions mentioned like cancer and heart disease, it’s important to consult with your doctor before Ashwagandha supplementation and develop a treatment plan that works for you.
When taken properly, implementing an Ashwagandha herbal supplement appears to be safe for most people. However, you can take too much, which can lead to side effects, including:
It is also important to note that Ashwagandha is not recommended if you are pregnant or nursing. You should also avoid taking Ashwagandha if you have an auto-immune disease or thyroid hormone disorder. Additionally, stop taking Ashwagandha at least two weeks before any scheduled surgery.
Because there is limited study on drug interactions with Ashwagandha, it is recommended you not take Ashwagandha if you are on any of the following:
It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting any supplement to avoid any unwanted interactions.
Generally, ingesting the Ashwagandha plant is considered safe. But how exactly should you go about dosage and timing?
There is no standard dosage for Ashwagandha. Different doses may affect people differently. The dose you decide on may also be dependent on what you’re using it for and how much relief you need.
For example, doses range anywhere from 250mg to 1500mg, but if you’re just getting started, taking somewhere between 250mg and 500mg is probably a safe bet.
Remember, taking more is not always better and may result in side effects, like an upset stomach. Instead, start with a lower dosage and, if you are not seeing the results you hoped for, slowly increase the dosage while monitoring yourself for any side effects.
You may also find that you prefer to take Ashwagandha as part of a blend of supplements so you can combine its benefits with that of other supplements. For example, our Be Calm capsules combine the benefits of Ashwagandha with Albizia Bark and Flower, Avena Sativa, Holy Basil, L-Theanine, and CBD for a calming blend designed to ground your mind and lift your spirits.
Again, there’s no real rule as to a specific time of the day you need to take Ashwagandha. The key is choosing a time that is convenient for you, whether it’s after your morning coffee or before your afternoon run.
You should also have a plan for how long you plan to take Ashwagandha. It is not something that begins working immediately, which means you will have to take it consistently to see its benefits. As such, take a supplement daily for at least one month. Then, assess how your body and mind are feeling.
Like we said earlier, traditional methods of taking Ashwagandha vary, but the most popular form of Ashwagandha is a once-daily capsule. You may take it on its own or as part of a blend of supplements. Additionally, you can add Ashwagandha to:
In addition to its powder form, Ashwagandha is also available in many balms and lotions to promote full-body healing.
If you decide that Ashwagandha sounds like something you could benefit from then we encourage you to try it. Each person is different and no herbal regiment is one size fits all.
That’s why Plant People is here to help you find what works for you so that you can feel confident, healthy, and fully you. Our Be Calm supplements pack your day with a slew of activating botanicals, from Ashwagandha to Holy Basil so you can feel your best around the clock.
Find a stress-relieving solution with Plant People.
Written by Emily Spring
Emily Spring is the Director of Marketing at Plant People. A longtime proponent of balanced living, she has enjoyed over 8 years driving growth in the lifestyle, health and wellness sectors with deep experience in functional solutions for optimizing anyone's everyday life.
Reviewed by Gabe Kennedy
Co-Founder of Plant People, Gabe Kennedy is an acclaimed chef and entrepreneur. Growing up in a house of healers and herbalists, he is passionate about the power of food as a tool for health, and actualized this passion and belief system into his company, Plant People. Named to Forbes 30 under 30 Gabe has shaped menus and cooked his way around the world with his mission to promote a more communal, green and healthy world.
Gabe is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. You can learn more about his work at his website.