As I sit here with a bad case of the sniffles I only have myself to blame. My usual morning ritual of vitamins and juicing has gone out the window as of late, and with what seems to be a sudden shift to winter temperatures my immunity has decided to crumble.
For a few months now I’ve been hearing all about the benefits of Ashwagandha, and have been meaning to get my hands on some. The benefits of this superfood are many and varied, one of which is it’s purported to be a fantastic immunity booster. Although I’ve already succumbed to the dreaded lurgy, I’m keen to get on the Ashwagandha train ASAP and reap all its health giving benefits before winter well and truly sets in.
Firstly, it’s an Adaptogen
‘Adaptogen’ is a bit of a buzz word at the minute, but what does it mean? Adaptogens are substances (a combination of amino acids, vitamins, and herbs) that help regulate your stress response to your environment. They do this by supporting your immunity and hormone function. Ashwagandha falls into the adaptogen category (yay!).
Stress in every day life is sadly inevitable, and chronic stress disrupts every system in your body. Left unchecked it can cause real problems. Ashwagandha is seen as a ‘Rasayana’ in Ayurveda, or ‘body balancer’ and ‘wellness extender’. It is commonly used to reset the body to a state of equilibrium. Double-blind studies found that concentrated extracts of Ashwagandha root balanced levels of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone, to a noticeable level compared to those who weren’t taking it.
Do you experience brain fog or have trouble recalling information? In Ayurveda, Ashwagandha has long been used to support memory. Today, a number of studies are being conducted to investigate the effects of Ashwagandha on brain function. One such study on 20 healthy adult men found that those who took Ashwagandha performed better on tasks and displayed faster reaction time than the control group.
Then Ashwagandha has you covered by calming the central nervous system. The herb contains triethylene glycol which may help induce sleep, and has been shown to improve both quantity and quality of sleep. Win!
With amazing anti-inflammatory properties this is a great time of year to get some Ashwagandha in your life to ramp up that immunity. Studies have shown Ashwagandha to have a positive effect on white blood cell count and platelet counts in animals with suppressed immune systems.
How to Take it
Ashwagandha is classically taken as a fine powder mixed in honey or ghee. In western countries, it typically ingested in capsule form, or you can pop some powder into your morning smoothie.
The usual recommended dose is 500 to 1,000 mg. For people who suffer from insomnia and anxiety, having a cup of hot milk that contains a teaspoon of powdered Ashwagandha or an Ashwagandha capsule before going to bed is a good idea.
There are however a few groups that might not benefit from this adaptogen. Ashwagandha is a nightshade, so it’s best to avoid it if you have a sensitivity to nightshades or struggle with autoimmune issues. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding you should also steer clear. As always, be sure to check with your doctor before supplementing with any herb.
Written by Ché Miller
About the author
Ché has always had a passion for hospitality having completed a conjoint Bachelors Degree in International Business and Hospitality Management. She has spent the last 15 years working in the hospitality industry. This passion led her to working in a premier health retreat in Australia in her twenties. There she found the knowledge she gained inspired her to start living a healthier life.
Now Ché loves to combine her two favourite things, hospitality and wellbeing. She scours the island for the best nourishing restaurants, products and services. Ché has been living in Mallorca since early 2017, having moved from her home in New Zealand. She absolutely loves the energy of the island and everything it has to offer.
Ché’s other interests include ashtanga yoga, boxing, reading, writing, and really good coffee.