Ashwagandha is Indian ginseng. While I normally don't like to put the focus on supplements, this is one that, in my opinion, belongs in everyone's kitchen cabinet. You know, a cabinet that you actually open. Not the one with the champagne glasses and your grandma's antique tea set that gets opened once a year on Thanksgiving.
The reason I've picked ashwagandha - OMG is there a shorter way to write this word? How about I call it "ash" for short? Great. So the reason I've picked ash is because so many people suffer from STRESS, and anxiety in particular. How many?
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness, affecting over 40 million Americans. That's 18% of the population! My math is stellar. Actually, I'm just really talented at copying info. Furthermore, people with anxiety are 3-5 times more likely to go to the doctor and 6 times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders.
While there are many types of anxiety-related disorders, I'm going to focus on the more generalized, non-trauma-induced anxiety disorders. However! Even though I am relating to a more general and idiopathic type of anxiety, what I am about to suggest can certainly be used in tangent with psychotherapy.
After my fifth kid, my body felt broken, and I had a very hard time dealing with all of the daily stress. I generally felt that I was going to freak out from being so overtired and stressed, and I felt sick all the time because of it. A friend suggested I start taking ashwagandha. OMG I just fell asleep for like 20 minutes at the computer. Ash is an adaptogen, which means it helps your body respond to and handle stress better. It's arguably the best adrenal support supplement that you can take.
So many people suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome and related diseases. Adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys and release the hormones cortisol and adrenaline in response to stress. Whether it's emotional, mental, or physical stress, your adrenals are working on overdrive if you're stressed out. And if they're on overdrive all the time, you're likely trapping yourself in a vicious cycle of physical stress/adrenal stress/more physical and mental stress.
When the adrenals are chronically overworked, they also begin to stress out and get tired. Basically, they want to quit and go on vacation in Tahiti. How long and how well can they function at such high output levels? The answer is not very long. Eventually, they're going to give up and go to sleep, just like I'd like to be doing right now.
What is the problem with your adrenals taking a little break? Well, that means that your body can't deal with stress as well as it should. When that happens, you may begin to suffer all types of anxiety disorders for problems that might have nothing to do with mental or emotional issues. I suspect that there are many others like me, who haven't (thank God) had a serious trauma in their lives, but suffer from all types of anxiety-related disorders.
In other words, you can be perfectly normal and balanced, yet still have anxiety! You're just too stressed!
The great thing about ashwagandha is that it has such a wonderful and powerful calming effect, that it can even be used by those who have really good reasons to be stressed, such as a traumatic life situation.
Here are two links talking more about this superhero herb. I would encourage you to read up as much as you can on the tremendous benefits that ash has to offer, such as reducing blood sugar, increasing muscle mass, helping minimize symptoms of depression, increasing fertility in men, and so much more.
I take ash every day, twice a day. In the morning, I take one pill with my iodine, (which I hope to write about in the future,) along with a teaspoon of coconut oil in warm water. I gotta tell you, this combination gives me such a supercharge in the morning! I have so much energy at the gym, that the ladies in my Zumba classes give me strange glances from time to time throughout the class. Whatever. I think the espresso I have in the morning might also be a minor factor. Just a little bit.
Then, at about 3:00 pm, before the kiddies get home, I take another one because I know that I'm gonna get stressed. Big time. It helps me so much! It takes me so much more effort to scream at them and react to their uncontrollable boyness.
If you're on anti-anxiety meds, do not stop taking them without discussing it with your doctor first! See how the ash works in tangent with your meds, and if you feel that it's helping you, speak with your doctor about weaning yourself off the meds and taking the ash instead.
If you're not on meds and want to feel less stressed in any case, do what I do and take one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I don't weigh much (about 115 pounds) so if I take two, I feel so relaxed that I just want to sit on the couch and chill. So if you don't feel any difference and you weight a little bit more than I do, try two of them after you eat something.
Wishing you all a low-stress, high-energy, and HAPPY week! Let us know if you're taking it, and how you feel!
Rabbi Lazer adds:
In addition to all the benefits that Racheli has mentioned, Ashwagandha - which I like to call "super root" is great for athletes. Since it minimizes stress hormones such as cortisol, it paves the way to better results for the same amount of work in the gym or on the track, namely, development of muscle mass and reduction of body fat. Google "ashwagandha" and "athletes" and you'll get all kinds of clinical documentation. Unlike drugs, ash doesn't cause a "spike" peak performance followed by a "crash" letdown. Since ash stimulates testosterone development in men, it's great for male fertility. And, since it helps so much in relieving stress and burnout in women, it's a female fertility enhancer as well, since stress is one of the worst enemies of female fertility. Bright Beams blessings for your better health!