• Herbal Farmwife

Are Your Adrenals Taking A Beating? Try Ashwagandha.

Let’s face it. We live a stressful life. I’m sure you are like me where your life is full every second of every day until you put your head on the pillow. Then when something goes wrong or your inflexible schedule gets changed. Boom. Your adrenals kick in to combat that rising level of stress and helps you power through it. Say that stress hangs on for days after days to the point that you can feel your blood flowing through your veins. Nothing can bring you in balance. You’ve tried it all.

I’ve been there. You are probably questioning how that happens in a country life. You’ve seen all the glamour shots of the perfect sunset over a river or the wheat waving in the wind by a ranch house. I should be the queen of calm. Nope! No matter what our situations are, we all have environments that could send us over the edge. I once had a co-worker tell me that I was incredibly passionate about accomplishing things if I believed in it. I would always find a way. Yep. Give me a project, work assignment, or cause that I believe in and I will not stop until I completely without a doubt “won.” Today, I know a new “cause” is going to be dropped on me like a bomb. That is why we are going to talk about Ashwagandha. If I’m going to need it in mere hours and you probably will find some value in it too. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get right to it.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a perennial herb that can be found in India, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East. It features small, green flowers with orange reddish fruit. I’m amazed of its major constituents are steroidal alkaloids and steroidal lactones. This plant has been used for a variety of health benefits for at least 3,000 years. Interestingly, Ashwagandha means “the odor of a horse” that seems to arise from its roots. Hmm, I’m not crazy about my food smelling like horse sweat. But, I’ve smelled worse. I’ve ate worse.

Ashwagandha is known as an “Indian Ginseng” with the ability to be an adaptogen, aphrodisiac, astringent, tonic, and a sedative. For our discussions, let’s just focus on its ability with stress. In the Ayurvedic practices, Ashwagandha is used for its ability to restore vitality in those suffering from overwork or nervous exhaustion. According to Robert Svoboda in Ayurveda, Life, Health, and Longevity (Arkana, 1992), he states that it, “clarifies the mind, calms, and strengthens the nerves, and promotes restful sleep.” This is backed up by a 1965 Indian research study that indicates the alkaloids in the Ashwagandha acts as a natural sedative which helps lower your heartbeat rate and lowers your blood pressure.

As an adaptogen, Ashwagandha can enhance the body’s adaptive response to stress and balances normal body functions. It can reduce stress in relation to adrenal fatigue and exhaustion. In a clinical trial of 100 people, the study’s results showed that this herb significantly reduced stress in all its participants.

Ashwagandha is available in capsules, extracts, and even teas. Ashwagandha dosage depends on several factors including your age and health history. So, I recommend starting with the instructions on the label and varying depending on how you feel. Starting slow is the key.

For myself, I find that Ashwaganhda helps lower my cortisol levels drastically during my first dose. I become very calm and my mind becomes very clear. Like one of my besties, I found Ashwagandha to be very beneficial for a short term. But, because of Ashwagandha has the ability to significantly increase thyroid production of T3 and T4, I could not take it long-term or it started messing with my thyroid medication.

That brings us to some precautions. As you know, I am not a doctor so always consult a doctor before you try any new herb and spice for medicinal purposes. Ashwagandha shouldn’t be taken if you are pregnant or a child. It may cause drowsiness in some. (I had the reverse happen to me.) In rare instances, it may cause diarrhea, tummy upset, and vomiting if you take it in large doses. Ashwagandha could cause problems if you are taking any medication for thyroid, diabetes, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and hypertension. Again, doctor first before you try anything new.

Blessings! Herbal Farmwife

DISCLAIMER: This information should not be considered to be healthcare advice, medical diagnosis, or treatment. This information is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other healthcare professionals. Always consult a healthcare professional first before trying any herbs, spices, vitamins, or minerals mentioned in this posting. This information is merely a discussion of “thoughts” among friends.

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