• Can Ashwagandha Help Alleviate Stress?


    Learn how ashwagandha supplements may help reduce stress naturally.

    Our ancestors probably never imagined the busy world we live in today – where distractions from smartphones and social apps constantly bombard us with demands that take away from our time and responsibilities, but most importantly, they take a toll on our bodies and minds. Fortunately, there are several natural ways to help alleviate your stress – including with herbal supplements such as ashwagandha. Keep reading to learn more!

    What is Stress?

    Stress is the body’s natural way of reacting to certain situations and emotions. It’s our fight-or-flight survival response. When we experience stress in the short-term, the chemicals our bodies release (adrenaline and cortisol) naturally kick-start our brain function and even help with learning.

    And while some stress is good (such as happy events like a wedding or a graduation), long-term exposure to chronic, toxic stress (such as poverty, malnutrition, trauma, death of a loved one, or divorce) can eventually have a negative effect on your health and wellbeing, as well as your ability to complete tasks or reach your goals.

    Chances are that you probably have not had a traumatic life event like surviving a natural disaster, so your stress is most likely related to everyday issues like relationship trouble, being overworked, or living paycheck to paycheck. If this is the case, it may be a good time to reevaluate what’s going on in your life and take some simple, necessary steps to reduce the stress and anxiety you’re feeling.

    Try Ashwagandha for Herbal Stress Support

    Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a small shrub with yellow flowers that grows in India and North Africa. For over 3,000 years, practitioners of Ayurveda have used extracts or powders from the roots and leaves of this ancient medicinal herb for many potential health benefits, including to support brain function and concentration, to support blood sugar levels already in the normal range, and to help fight symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression.

    Considered an “adaptogen” – a plant that is able to adapt to its environment, including harsh weather, pests and other natural threats – some herbalists believe that ashwagandha may also help the human body adapt and fight “invaders” like microbes and the effects of toxic stress by promoting immune system health thanks to its main chemical ingredients known as withanolides.

    Research suggests that ashwagandha may help reduce levels of cortisol (the “stress hormone”). For instance, in one study, patients who consumed the plant’s standardized leaf and root extract reported a reduction in stress indicators without any adverse effects.

    In another study, adult subjects with a history of chronic stress were given one 300 mg capsule twice daily of ashwagandha root extract for a period of 60 days and also reported reduced cortisol levels, indicating that “ashwagandha root extract safely and effectively improves an individual's resistance towards stress and thereby improves self-assessed quality of life.”

    The recommended dosage of ashwagandha is 1–2 tsp twice daily, boiled in water or mixed with milk, buttermilk, ghee, or honey. Or, try an ashwagandha root or leaf extract or powder in supplement form, available as capsules or tablets at a dose of 600–1200 mg, depending on the instructions on the supplement.

    You can also try an herbal supplement blend of various plant-based adaptogens to support the body in reacting to stress in a healthy way and calming an overworked nervous system.

    Other Tips to Build Your Stress Resilience

    1.     Practice progressive muscle relaxation by tensing and relaxing individual muscle groups. Try this with a deep-breathing meditation or mindfulness exercise for added relaxation.

    2.     Write down “small victories” in your life. Reflecting on past accomplishments will help inspire and motivate you to achieve future goals.

    3.     Prevent burnout by identifying where you’re overspending your energy and eliminate redundancies and unnecessary tasks to free up your time and efforts. The trick is to just say “no” to the things you don’t have time to do.

    4.     Try a full-body cleanse and detox.

    5.     Eat more nutritious superfoods such as dark green leafy vegetables like spinach or kale. (Then treat yourself with a piece of dark chocolate, containing at least 70% cocoa, which provides stress-reducing feelings of euphoria.)

    6.     Take a nature walk. The exercise and fresh air will not only help release natural endorphins to boost your mood, but “forest bathing” is also considered a great way to de-stress. (Just make sure to turn off your cell phone during your retreat, and make sure to stay well hydrated by drinking water regularly.)

    7.     Try aromatherapy. Essential oils such as lavender and eucalyptus can be used in a diffuser to create a fine mist in the air that not only smells pleasant but will also help soothe your mind and possibly even help you sleep.

    What do you do to fight stress and anxiety? Have you tried ashwagandha supplements for herbal support? Let us know in the comments below!


    Photo by Shine Tang on Unsplash

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