What is ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha, Sanskrit for “the smell of a horse”—meaning to impart the vigor and strength of a horse—is one of the most powerful herbs in Ayurvedic medicine. The herb contains many compounds with medicinal benefits including support for the immune system, high antioxidant properties, and as an “adaptogen,” which helps the body adjust to stress.¹
Adaptogens and Adrenals
The body is a complex, interconnected web of hormones, tissue and organs, all of which can suffer when exposed to chronic stress. Your adrenals may be your most important organs in situations of stress because they are responsible for most of the important hormones you need during these times. ²Your thyroid, an organ you need to be functioning properly in order for systems as diverse as your heartbeat to your metabolism to stay on track, shares an interconnectedness with your adrenal glands as well. When your adrenals are low and you already have problems with low thyroid, your thyroid condition may be worsened by the concurrent adrenal issue.²
Adaptogens help the body rebalance, restore, and protect. When it comes to your adrenal glands, “Naturopath Marcelle Pick of Women to Women reports that adaptogenic herbs can recharge your adrenal glands, helping you to respond to stress”³.
In these studies, reported by Natural Insights for Wellbeing, the Ancient Ayurvedic herb ashwagandha showed promising body mass and heart health benefits. Here’s more:
Weight loss and chronic stress¹
Chronic stress has a link to many health conditions, one of the most common being obesity. In this study, 52 adults under chronic stress took a placebo or 300 mg of ashwagandha twice per day.
After eight weeks, the placebo group had lost 1.5 percent of body weight compared to 3 percent weight loss for those taking ashwagandha. Body mass index scores also improved, with the placebo group improving 1.4 percent, and the ashwagandha group improving 3 percent.
Reference: JEBCAM; April, 2016, Published Online
Doctors wanted to test the effects on endurance and quality of life in healthy, athletic male and female adults. In this study, 50 healthy, athletic men and women, age 20 to 45, with normal body mass index scores between 18.5 and 24.9, took a placebo or 300 mg of ashwagandha root extract twice per day.
After eight weeks, compared to the start of the study, those taking ashwagandha saw an increase in maximum oxygen capacity 3.5 times greater than the placebo group. After 12 weeks, those taking ashwagandha saw a further 15 percent increase in maximum oxygen capacity, which was also three times greater than the increase in the placebo group. Those taking ashwagandha reported better psychological health and having more positive social relationships.
Reference: AYU Journal; 2015, Vol. 36, No. 1, PMC4687242
Betsy’s Note: This article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease. Make sure a supplement is not contraindicated with your medications or medical condition. For example, ashwaghandha thins blood and may not be recommended for those with thyroid conditions by some practitioners. Consult your healthcare provider.
¹ Article copyright 2017 by Natural Insights for Well Being. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
² Reference: https://www.holtorfmed.com/understanding-the-adrenal-thyroid-connection/
³ Reference: https://draxe.com/7-adaptogen-herbs-to-lower-cortisol/