Ashwagandha for Stress Relief
Chronic Stress and Its Consequences on Your Health
Stress is something that most of us face every day. There are many stressors that can trigger our stress response. These stressors fall into two categories: external and internal.
External stressors are the outside things that put pressure on you, such as a demanding job or too little down time. Juggling work and family can make you feel stressed. Financial or health problems also count as external stressors.
Internal stressors are the things that come from within us – our emotions, thoughts, and expectations. You might feel stressed out because you are not satisfied with your current weight. Or you might be excessively worrying about your health or relationships. The list is endless.
Regardless of what kind of stressor you face, your body's reaction will be the same. It will react to perceived danger with the so-called fight or flight response. This response triggers a cascade of stress hormones, which enable you to react more swiftly to potentially harmful situation.
However, in the long run, chronically elevated levels of stress hormones can harm your health. The myriad of stress symptoms includes aches and pains, tremors, irritability, fatigue, memory problems, depression, dizziness, and so on.
That is why it is necessary to recognize the signs and symptoms of stress early on and use effective stress management techniques to deal with them. One of the less commonly known ways to dealing with stress is using herbal supplements.
What is Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is an herb, which is traditionally used in the Indian ayurvedic medicine. It has been used as a medicinal herb for thousands of years. Traditionally, ashwagandha has been used in powder and tonic form. Nowadays, most ashwagandha supplements in the West come in the form of capsules that contain powder made from ashwagandha roots.
Ashwagandha has many proven benefits. It is used for immune support, strengthening vitality as well as improving fertility. Because it increases libido it has also been used as a mild aphrodisiac.
Go to Health Benefits of Ashwagandha to learn more about how this herb supports your health.
How Does Ashwagandha Fight Stress
Ashwagandha has been extensively used for stress relief. It has been shown that ashwagandha is able to regulate stress response and the secretion of stress hormone cortisol.
Ashwagandha is thought to be an herbal adaptogen. This means that it regulates the levels of different hormones (including cortisol) and brings them to their normal levels.
Ashwagandha also supports the action and health of adrenal glands (endocrine glands that secrete stress hormones; they are located above the kidneys). Lately, it has been shown that ashwagandha also has a neuroprotective action, which means that it protects the brain and the nervous symptom from the effects of too much stress.
The benefits of ashwagandha for those suffering from stress and related symptoms have been proven in thousands of years of clinical use. Recently, however, scientific studies have confirmed that ashwagandha can be useful for regulating the body’s stress response.
Here’s What the Studies Say
- Ashwagandha supplementation decreases serum cortisol levels (major stress hormone)
- Ashwagandha also improves other markers of stress, including emotional and mental symptoms (anxiety, depression, forgetfulness, sleep problems, fatigue, etc.)
- It decreases inflammatory cytokines that are released when you are under chronic stress
- Increases self-assessed feelings of general well-being and quality of life
- Improves insulin sensitivity in stressed out subjects
- Ashwagandha alleviates the effects of oxidative stress on the brain and decreases stress related changes in frontal cortex
Taking Ashwagandha for Alleviating the Effects of Stress
Ashwagandha has been proven safe in doses up to 2 grams per day. This is quite a large dose and most commonly used supplements contain about 400 to 500 mgs of herbal powder per capsule.
If you are just starting off with ashwagandha supplementation, you will need to know the side effects of ashwagandha and possible interactions with other herbs and supplements. You can learn all this and more here: How to Take Ashwagandha.
Make sure to choose a high quality ashwagandha supplement. Here’s an article that will show you what you need to be careful of: How to Choose an Ashwagandha Supplement. In this article you will also find an overview of the popular supplements, so you can decide which one best suits your needs.
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- A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, Anishetty S. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine. 2012 Jul. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23439798
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