Herb of the Week: Ashwagandha

Each week I will be highlighting a new medicinal herb, which I think will be very interesting and useful for many. This week’s herb is called Ashwagandha.

 

I was particularly interested in this herb because of its effects on the endocrine system. In my personal experience I have had endocrine (hormonal) imbalances in the past, as well as thyroid and adrenal weakness.

 

Once I got to reading about this spectacular herb, I knew I had to make it a part of my regimen.

 

Since I was a young girl (as young as I can remember…three years old to be exact) up until recently I suffered from anxiety. As a result my adrenals became very taxed and today I am suffering the consequences: adrenal fatigue.

 

I don’t believe I have a severe case, but I do know I need to take extra good care of my adrenals for healing form the past, as well as keeping them healthy for a long and happy life. I believe Ashwagandha is one of the herbs that can help me personally in this regard.

 

Ashwagandha is a native plant to the drier subtopic regions of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and parts of Africa. The roots of the plant are used medicinally.

 

Its main properties include:

 

·      Adaptogen: “Adaptogens…help the body adapt to stress, support normal metabolic functions, and help restore balance. They increase the body’s resistance to physical, biological, emotional and environmental stressors and provide a defense response to acute or chronic stress. They are unique from other substances in their ability to restore the balance of endocrine hormones, modulate the immune system, and allow the body to maintain optimal homeostasis.” (Winston, Maimes)

·      Anti-inflammatory

·      Antioxidant

·      Anti-tumor

·      Nervine (supports nervous system health)

·      Supports immune system balance/strength

·      Anti-spasmodic (relaxes spasms)

·      Diuretic

 

How Ashwagandha is used:

 

Ashwagandha is a calming adaptogen that helps with endocrine (hormonal system) function. In particular, it helps re-regulate the thyroid, testes,and adrenal glands. Actual human studies have shown that this herb has a direct effect on the thyroid.

 

Due to its nervine and adaptogenic actions, this herb is very effective for issues like anxiety, fatigue, cloudy thinking, exhaustion, and insomnia.

 

Ashwagandha works extremely well in cases of hypo- or hyper-immune function. In India, this herb has been used as part of the protocol for cancer because it suppresses tumors and prevents depletion of white blood cells. It has also been used in cases of chronic fatigue and even autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

 

Another interesting fact to note is that Ashwagandha contains a rich amount of iron and can be used in iron deficiencies.

 

Recommended Dosage: 400-500 mg twice per day

 

Contraindications: Do not use this herb if you are sensitive to plants in the nightshade family (these would be such things as tomatoes, eggplant, etc.). Also avoid using if you have a case of excess iron. Do not use if you have been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. It is best to avoid this herb during pregnancy.

 

Herb/Drug Interactions: Ashwagandha can enhance or increase the effect of barbiturates.

 

 

This herb is extremely useful and even sounds magical for some cases. Keep in mind that if you have any sort of adrenal fatigue, this herb may make you drowsy. It is actually meant to, as it works to decrease adrenaline and allow your body to rest. I personally take mine in the evening when I know I am winding down for the night.

 

Sources: Adaptogens, by David Winston and Steven Maimes