With the recent resurgence in popularity of ancient Eastern healing modalities, we’re now all able to experience the profound benefits of certain herbs in an enhanced and modern way. Ashwagandha is one of these herbs, and was first used within the realms of Ayurveda - an Indian system of health and wellbeing dating back thousands of years ago.
The Science of Life
Ayurveda is a combination of the words Ayur, meaning ‘life, longevity, and wellbeing’, and Veda meaning ‘knowledge or science’, therefore we can understand that the health system of Ayurveda is essentially the science of the many-faceted aspects of life and longevity, and the many tools we can use to live it well.
Herbs and dietary programmes are a big part of Ayurvedic medicine and lifestyle advice – with different tastes, textures and qualities of foods effecting us all in very different ways. As a system that focuses primarily on the prevention of disease rather than just the curing of symptoms, herbal formulas are popular within Ayurveda, and various herbs are used for everything from enhancing digestion to improving circulation, to boosting the immune system, libido, and energy levels. There are of course many remedies and cure-all herbs and treatments, which look at bringing a person back into their natural state of balance if they experience illness.
Adapting To Stress & Obtaining The ‘Strength of a Stallion’
Ashwagandha is known as one of the most powerful herbs in Ayurvedic medicine, and is most widely recognised for its restorative and rejuvenating benefits. Native to India, North Africa and the Middle East, the plant belongs to the tomato family, and it’s the root that is usually used in supplemental form. In a modern world full of stress, over-exertion, and chronic cases of anxiety and fatigue, Ashwaganda is one of the most useful Adaptogens, meaning things that help the body and mind adapt to stress (be that physical, mental or emotional).
Some key benefits of Ashwagandha include its ability to protect the immune and nervous systems, improve learning and reaction time, reduce brain cell degeneration, lower cholesterol, stabilise blood sugar, boost the supply of antioxidants, lower levels of inflammation, and reduce levels of stress and anxiety without the side effect of drowsiness. All of these aspects of our health and wellbeing are effected every day, which over time can take its toll on our energy levels and overall enjoyment of life itself. By adding Ashwagandha to a daily supplement protocol, the body has an opportunity to be rejuvenated and can handle day-to-day life more effectively.
Deeply knowledgeable Ayurvedic pratitioners and authors David Frawley and Vasant Lad say that “It is the best rejuvenative herb, particularly for the muscles, and is used in conditions of weakness tissue deficiency in those debilitated by chronic diseases, those suffering from overwork, lack of sleep or nervous exhaustion”. Ashwagandha is also known to be ‘Sattvic’ in nature, meaning it neither agitates nor dulls the mind or senses, but provides a sense of balance. Deepak Chopra says of the powerful herb; “We use Ashwagandha at the Chopra Center for its tonic and rejuvenative effects. With its beneficial influence on the nervous system, we commonly prescribe it for people who complain of fatigue, difficulty in concentrating… and [it is] useful for people with insomnia and anxiety”.
In Sanskrit (the language used by most ancient Indian scholars, and thought to be the oldest ever recorded language), Ashwagandha translates as ‘the smell of a horse’, so called because upon consuming the herb, one is said to obtain the ‘vigour and strength of a stallion’, and ‘the virility of a horse’ – a reference to the fact that yes, this supplement can indeed work as an aphrodisiac and sexual health enhancer for both men and women…
It’s said that the old ones are the best, and with so many new formulas and chemical-laden pills and potions on the market, it’s good to know that this ancient herb has been considered one of the best and most reliable for thousands of years, and is still effective today!