The Impressive Adaptogenic Effects of Ashwagandha
It can be difficult for some patients to understand the concept of homeostasis. This idea that the human body has built-in mechanisms to auto-regulate during times of instability can be hard to grasp. But the fact is, the human body has an innate need for stability, balance and a sustained state of equilibrium.
Adaptogenic herbs encourage such a state especially during times of stress. Adaptogens are considered nerve tonics that support homeostasis on a very deep level by helping the body adapt to a variety of physical and emotional stressors.
One of the most widely studied and commonly used adaptogenic herbs for stress support, in particular, is ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), also sometimes referred to as Indian ginseng because of its rejuvenating properties. Ashwagandha is a shrub that bears red fruit the size of a raisin that is native to India, northern Africa, and the Middle East. It is also now grown in some parts of the United States that have a mild, dry climate. In Sanskrit, the word ashwagandha translates to “the smell of the horse,” which Ayurvedic experts believe reflects equine characteristics such as strength and stamina.
Ashwagandha has been used in Ayurveda since ancient times; however, modern research has confirmed that it can help support healthy and balanced cortisol levels, immunity and cognition. In fact, there are hundreds of studies in the scientific literature that focus on the health-supporting effects of ashwagandha.
Because ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb, it can be used to support health on a variety of levels. In addition to stress support, recent research indicates that it may help support healthy weight during times of stress and may also help support female sexual function in healthy women. A 2015 study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that ashwagandha supplementation helped support muscle strength and recovery in young exercising men.
Studies in both animals and humans have found ashwagandha to be safe and well-tolerated even at higher amounts. For stress support, the recommended daily amount of ashwagandha as a supplement is 500 to 1,000 mg. Ashwagandha is not recommended for women who are pregnant.
Certain patients gain much support from adaptogenic herbs. Ashwagandha should certainly be at the top of the list when considering these powerful health-supporting supplements during times of stress, as well as other circumstances.
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