From heavy workloads to relationship hiccups, there are plenty of reasons to feel stressed. But stress is more than just a headache. According to statistics from the American Psychological Association (APA), 77 percent of Americans experience physical symptoms as a result of their stressful lifestyles. Meanwhile, a huge 73 percent report psychological problems like anxiety and depression.
No surprise then that interest in ashwagandha as a potential fix for stress has exploded. This adaptogenic herb has been used for millennia to fight a huge range of health conditions, but it’s only just beginning to get noticed in the western world.
Celebrated for its ability to help the body adapt to stress – whether it be caused by physiological or environmental factors – ashwagandha promotes calm, improves concentration, and boosts mental wellbeing.
In this post, we explore how the supplement works, and why it needs to be a part of your medicine cabinet.
What are adaptogens?
As an adaptogenic herb, ashwagandha is loaded with health boosting properties. But exactly what are adaptogens? And how do they work?
Adaptogens are a unique group of herbal ingredients used to improve the health of your adrenal system, the system that manages your body’s hormonal response to stress. By recharging the adrenal glands, adaptogens help boost and balance the hormones needed to keep you calm, focused and healthy. On top of psychological benefits, adaptogens like ashwagandha can improve immunity, increase stamina, balance thyroid function and even boost fertility.
Ashwagandha is not the only herb considered to be adaptogenic. In fact, holy basil, astragalus, rhodiola and ginseng are all considered to have similar properties. However, studies have suggested that when it comes to tackling stress, ashwagandha is among the most effective.
How do adaptogens lower stress?
Ashwagandha acts like a hormone thermostat, especially when it comes to controlling levels of cortisol – a hormone that can lead stress levels to skyrocket. However, to understand the role of adaptogenic herbs, it’s important to remember that cortisol isn’t all bad. In fact, the steroid hormone plays an important part in bodily health, from regulating memory formation to keeping metabolism in check. It’s only when levels rise that your body knows about it. Causing symptoms like fatigue, stress, mood swings and high blood pressure, out-of-whack cortisol levels can be dangerous.
To manage these levels, adaptogens control the release of stress hormones such as CRH (corticotropin-releasing hormone). When CRH makes its way to the pituitary gland, the body triggers the release of ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone), which in turn secretes cortisol. By controlling the initial release of CRH before it gets the opportunity to trigger the release of cortisol, adaptogens help to tackle stress at its source.
Taking ashwagandha for stress
Chronic stress can impact our long-term health in more ways than we think. Many degenerative diseases as well as premature aging have been linked back to chronic nervous tension. So it makes sense to explore the ways we can reduce the toll of stress on our bodies – both through mindfulness and natural supplements.
To take ashwagandha for stress, anxiety or fatigue, doctors recommend a dose of 300mg once or twice a day. As with any supplement, make sure you choose organic ashwagandha such that from Superfood World.
Fancy giving ashwagandha a try?