Ashwagandha, also commonly known as Indian Ginseng. It is a perennial plant from the Nightshade family that is native to the Indian sub-continent and northern Africa and is one of the most valued shrubs in Indian Ayurvedic medicine. In the Sanskrit language it means “Smelling like a horse” but in English is known as “Winter Cherry”.
Ashwagandha is one of a group of herbs known as “adaptogens”, meaning that it helps the body adapt to stress situations involving hormones in the body. You might have heard of adrenalin, which is produced in the adrenal glands which sit just on top of our kidneys and help us to respond to the fight or flight signals linked with stress and danger.
The bioactive compound of withanolide found in the roots and leaves of the plant has been shown to have wide ranging properties including as a sedative an anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour, anti-bacterial and an anti-spasmodic.
It has been taken for centuries for youthful vigour and sexual health.
Ashwagandha has been shown in research to help support the body manage both the mental and physical stressors such as overtraining in sport, which it has also been shown in research to help maintain healthy muscle strength and endurance.
Ashwaganda is normally sold in powder form to be added to foods and drinks or can be bought as capsules or tablets. It has an earthy pungent taste that is easily concealed by adding the powder to fruit smoothies or similar drinks.