A tight deadline, an unexpected expense, a traffic jam -- while you may feel like you're ready for anything at this stage in your life, stress can still get to you. That's when herbs like ashwagandha can help -- they give you the ability to really adapt to whatever life throws your way.
All About Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a small perennial plant. The roots and berries of this plant are what are used to make supplements and medicine. This herbal remedy has long been used in Ayurveda, traditional Indian medicine (where it's referred to as Indian ginseng) and in Africa.
Ashwagandha for Stress
Stress can have many negative side effects on the body. First of all, it raises blood pressure, which can be bad for the heart. Next, it weakens the immune system, which makes the entire body more susceptible to infection and illness. Third, stress triggers the release of the hormone cortisol, which can lead to weight gain in the abdomen, which puts too much strain on the vital organs. Finally, stress impairs sleep, which prevents the body from restoring itself each night.
Ashwagandha is commonly used to treat anxiety and insomnia, but it's also known as an adaptogen. Adaptogens help the body cope with stress, encouraging it to adapt to avoid negative side effects. It contains natural chemical compounds that have a calming effect on the brain and may also help bring down blood pressure. It's been shown to have these effects in clinical studies as well as inhibiting cortisol. Dr. Joseph Mercola is a fan of ashwagandha because it has all these benefits without being a stimulant, which can have side effects of their own.
A 2000 review of published research printed in the medical journal Alternative medicine review: a journal of clinical therapeutic found ashwagandha to be non-toxic in all the studies reviewed, recommending it for further research with humans. Another such review, also confirming ashwagandha's benefits, was published in 2011 in the African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines. It explained ashwagandha can help fight free radical damage as an antioxidant, improve the body's response to stress and boost immunity. A study conducted before that, in 2009, and published in the Journal of alternative and complimentary medicine also found daily supplementation with ashwagandha strengthened the immune system.
Ashwagandha supplements are available in a variety of forms and strengths. It's also commonly combined with other herbs. As with any new supplement you're considering taking, make sure to speak with your doctor before making ashwagandha part of your daily routine, as certain herbs and supplements can interfere with prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding shouldn't take ashwagandha.
Other Ways to Combat Stress
Managing your stress properly can help you stay healthy from head to toe. Here are some suggestions to help you combat daily stress:
Meditate for five minutes when you wake up and before going to bed to clear your mind.
Stash your cell phone and ignore it when you get home -- at least don't sleep with it next to the bed.
Take a bath with Epsom salts to detox and lavender oil to calm you before bed.
Stretch to release tight muscles.
Get a massage to help you unwind, or have your partner give you one.
Do something you love for an hour a day, be it working out, reading or cooking.
Shop for herbal supplements like ashwagandha and more at eVitamins to help you stay well. See you tomorrow!
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