Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is probably one of the best-known remedies of the traditional Indian medicine - Ayurveda. It had been used in India for thousands of years to treat all sorts of conditions.
Nowadays, ashwagandha's roots are the most popularly consumed part of the plant.
So what makes this food so valuable from the point of view of human nutrition?
Ashwagandha's main active components are alkaloids (ex., isopelletierine, anaferine, cuseohygrine, anahygrine), steroidal compounds (withanolides, withaferins) and saponins which perform a number of important functions in the body. (Ref. 1)
Thanks to its stimulating effects on our systems, ashwagandha is often referred to as Indian ginseng. (Ref. 1)
In alternative medicine, this food is often prescribed for dealing with adrenal fatigue - a condition when adrenal glands are unable to produce sufficient quantities of hormones required by the body to deal with stress. (Ref. 2)
Adrenal glands work in synergy with the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland and set the tone for how the respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic and other systems respond to external stresses experienced by the body.
When adrenal glands underperform, the most common symptoms we may experience are: tiredness, feeling stressed and sub-par, unable to wake up in the morning without a major infusion of caffeine and other stimulants, and other similar symptoms.
By working on a hormonal level, and also as a powerful adaptogen, ashwagandha re-sets the way the body reacts to stress, and brings it back into balance. (Ref. 1)
Apart from that, ashwagandha is known to relieve anxiety and depression, enhance memory and mental clarity, improve cognition functions, fight off colds and infections, among numerous other benefits. (Ref. 1 and 3)
Take 3 - 4 grams of ashwagandha per day.
If you have a pre-existing condition or are on any medication, please consult your doctor before taking ashwagandha.