WORTH THE HYPE? ALL ABOUT ASHWAGANDHA
Let’s talk adaptogens, specifically ashwagandha.
An adaptogen helps your body adapt to stress, be it internal sources or external influences. They almost work to seek out what your body needs and support that requirement, be it more energy or helping you to chill the f out. They work within the nervous system, helping to balance out stress hormones.
Ashwagandha has become one of the most talked-about adaptogens and for good reason, it can be highly effective when used correctly.
However, we think the way adaptogens are used should be hyper-individualised. If not tailored to the individual’s needs and adrenal function, adaptogens can have the opposite outcome of what you're aiming for. And we think that this VITAL information really isn’t stressed enough.
Ashwagandha (or Withania somnifera if you’re FANCY) works to lower cortisol levels in the blood.
One study showed that chronically stressed subjects being given 300 mg of high-concentration, full-spectrum extract from the root of the Ashwagandha plant had an overall significant reduction in cortisol. Subjects also reported that they felt less stressed too. This study was done over 60 days.
You know how detrimental chronic stress can be on your body, we don’t need to remind you. Cortisol is released from the adrenal glands in response to the longer-term stressors and when it's present in high amounts for long periods of time, it can royally screw with your hormones, gut health and immune system.
We, of course, recommend that you actively work on radical rest and self-care to support your adrenal function and nervous system, but adaptogens and supplementation can really help to fill in the gaps you might be missing.
There have also been studies on it possibly being able to help lower blood sugar, which in itself has a knock-on effect on your sex hormones and energy levels. Cortisol and blood sugar are directly linked, when we’re stressed insulin raises in preparation to cram as much fuel into your cells as possible.
HOW TO SUPPLEMENT WITH ASHWAGANDHA
Generally speaking, if you’re struggling with adrenal dysfunction and chronic stress, Ashwagandha can be a great addition to your supplement protocol. Consider if the following statements sound familiar:
- You wake up exhausted and struggle to get out of bed.
- You have real issues falling asleep at night and often lay awake and wired.
- At around 3-4 pm, you feel as if you need a nap.
- You have symptoms of an underlying hormonal imbalance, such as acne, irregular cycles, heavy or painful periods or are holding onto weight around your middle.
- You react to stress poorly and often feel anxious.
If they do, then it could be worth adding a small dose, to begin with, and see how you get on.
What tends to happen, is that many supplement in the morning, when we actually want cortisol to be a little higher, to wake you up and get you out the door. Taking ashwagandha could further deplete levels, making it even harder to wake up. It sounds tricky, but we want to restore your body’s natural rhythm. Instead, supplement in the evening as part of your wind-down routine, when we want cortisol to slowly start to drop off anyway.
If you find yourself taking it in the evening and after a month or so, find that it’s just as difficult, if not more difficult to wake up, it’s time to drop the ashwagandha work with a professional.
Hopefully, you’ll find that slowly, alongside the rest of your radical rest and self-care rituals, you have more energy in the morning and throughout the day and sleep better. You should also find that you have more of an overall feeling of calm and when stressful situations do arise, they don’t affect you as badly.
You can take ashwagandha in a supplement, powder or tincture. We've popped our favourites down below. The supplement form may be easier to take in the evening and there are some great complexes with other sleepy, relaxing herbs available. If you opt for the powder, try adding it to an afternoon or early evening turmeric latte.
Also note, ashwagandha should be cycled and not taken long-term. So take it for 60 days, stop for a month, and then implement it again. Do not take if pregnant or breastfeeding, and if TTC, work with a practitioner. There are a few nutrient/ drug interactions to be aware of so always do thorough research before taking alongside any medication and speak to your healthcare professional. Certain autoimmune conditions may also want to avoid.
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glow market and the content provided are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on glow market and The Scoop is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your doctor and/ or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programs.