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Ashwagandha: the ancient Ayurvedic adaptogen
We explore Ashwagandha’s roots, both in Ayurvedic tradition and as a powerful adaptogenic ingredient that helps to improve sleep and reduce stress.
Used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years, Ashwagandha is the most well-studied adaptogen. Adaptogens are defined as a plant extract that “helps support the body's ability to resist the effects of everyday stress and promote normal physiological functioning.”
In Ayurvedic medicine, Ashwagandha is considered a Rasayana or rejuvenating health tonic for men, women, children and the elderly due to its extensive use in treating various ailments, from joint pain and constipation to insomnia and depression. Its name is derived from the horse-like smell of its root, with “ashwa” translating from Sanskrit as “horse”. It is for this reason, combined with its multitude of benefits, that it’s also believed to instil the strength of a horse upon consumption.
Ashwagandha (also known as Indian ginseng and winter cherry, or its scientific name Withania somnifera) grows in India, the Middle East and parts of Africa as a small evergreen shrub with leaves, roots, berries and flowers that are utilised for their medicinal properties. The leaves are most commonly used in teas, and powdered root formulas called churnas can be mixed with water, ghee (clarified butter that originated in ancient India) or honey. It is also traditionally taken with warm milk, as according to Ayurveda milk is considered the best vehicle for taking a herb.
The leaves from the Ashwagandha plant contain bioactives, which are shown to support improvement in cognition, sleep and oxidative stress as well as a healthy immune response. The roots from Ashwagandha are most commonly used to promote longevity, enhance vitality and support a healthy immune system. Its ability to reduce stress and anxiety is one of the most significant impacts, with one specific study on 64 subjects with a history of chronic stress resulting in the finding that “a high-concentration full-spectrum Ashwagandha root extract safely and effectively improves an individual's resistance towards stress and thereby improves self-assessed quality of life.”
Generic Ashwagandha extracts suffer from a lack of proper optimisation of the extraction process and standardisation of the bioactive components, creating ineffective levels of potency. In MOOD, we use an Ashwagandha extract that uses a unique combination of leaves and roots by a totally aqueous extraction process to deliver a comprehensive extract with increased levels of the main active compound (withanolide glycosides) and superior performance. In clinical trials, it was proven to decrease overall daily stress response by 62.2%. In two separate studies, the same Ashwagandha extract was found to reduce cortisol levels by 15% and CRP, an inflammatory marker, by 32% within 60 days.
Since Ashwagandha has been sourced from wild plants in India for thousands of years, we stay true to the source by using a patented extract from Madhya Pradesh in central India. These organic farms provide a sustainable sourcing method that benefits local farmers, improving their livelihood and the local economy.
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