Updated: Mar 30
From Covid to climate change and the rising cost of living, the modern world isn’t exactly short of reasons to lose sleep and feel stressed.
Research by the mental health charity Mind reports that one in five Brits currently describe their mental wellbeing as 'poor'. Meanwhile, one in three of us suffers from poor sleep, with stress often blamed.
Fortunately, public awareness of how to fight stress and anxiety is growing. Around a third of us say we're doing more exercise, and more than a fifth are eating more healthily.
But one of the most scientifically proven ways to reduce stress and improve sleep is perhaps the least well-known – one of the most powerful herbs, called Ashwagandha.
Known as the 'prince of herbs', Ashwagandha has been prized as a treatment for general health and wellbeing in the traditional Indian practice of Ayurveda for thousands of years.
Now multiple scientific studies have confirmed that this ancient herb has a remarkable capacity to help us cope with modern-day stress.
A randomised, placebo-controlled study in 2012 concluded that Ashwagandha 'safely and effectively improves an individual's resistance towards stress and thereby improves self-assessed quality of life.'
Another study in 2019 reported that stressed individuals who took 600mg per day of full spectrum Ashwagandha not only showed a significant reduction in their stress and anxiety levels, but also an improvement in sleep quality. A 2020 study also found that it could help manage insomnia.
Despite its long history, people in the UK are only starting to become aware of Ashwagandha' s ability to help promote wellbeing – or that it's available as a nutritional supplement. Ashwagandha is a powerful herb with multiple health benefits, and it can be beneficial if you're looking for a natural way to improve your mental and physical wellbeing.
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) is a small, evergreen shrub with yellow flowers that grows to about two feet in height across India and parts of the Mediterranean and Africa.
From the plant’s roots, several phytochemicals (bioactive compounds) are extracted. These include steroidal saponins, known as withanolides (a group of naturally occurring steroids), alkaloids, fatty acids, amino acids and choline. All contribute to Ashwagandhas many pharmacologic and biological properties and are essential for addressing many health ailments to balance the body for optimal health. Much like the way exercise builds physical performance, these active molecules help the body normalise physiological processes and adapt to changes. This in turn promotes relaxation and helps us cope with stress.
What are the Benefits of Ashwagandha?
Many of today's chronic health problems are related to the body being stressed and out of balance. Ashwagandha can provide energy to a lethargic person, yet it can also help with sleep. It helps to reduce stress and anxiety and balances the hormones. It helps both men and women with strength, mental clarity, and libido.
In India, Ashwagandha is known as the strength of the stallion since it has traditionally been used to strengthen the immune system after illness. It also boosts your supply of antioxidants and regulates your immune system. A cornerstone of Ayurvedic medicine, Ashwagandha is often referred to as "Indian Ginseng" for its full spectrum of healing and rejuvenating properties. Ashwagandha Root Extract may help support emotional and hormonal balance, brain function, and immune system function. An excellent herbal supplement for stress relief, it is also reported that Ashwagandha may help with asthma, arthritis, chronic fatigue, anaemia, infertility, depression, and blood pressure, bringing balance and harmony to both the mind and the body.
Ashwagandha is an Adaptogen, meaning it can adapt to your body's needs by balancing out levels, such as hormones and immune cells, to create stability in the body and support our immune system.
DIRECTIONS: As a Food Supplement, take one capsule daily before a meal. Swallow with water. Increase dosage up to 3 capsules, split evenly throughout the day, if required. Do not exceed 3 capsules in a 24-hour period.
INGREDIENTS: Organic Ashwagandha Root Extract Powder, Organic Black Pepper Root Extract Powder, Capsule Shell (HMPC).
Allergy Advice: None
Suitable for Vegans and Vegetarians: Yes
Consult Your Healthcare Professional Before Taking If You Are Under Medical Supervision.
Last year, a Cambridge research team was commissioned into how British people deal with stress, which discovered that only one in 10 people had tried a nutritional supplement to help – but more than two-thirds of us felt open to the idea.
'It was very interesting to learn that' says Dr Ferrer. 'And it suggests that a lot of people still aren't aware that a science-backed supplement like Ashwagandha can help to contribute to optimal wellbeing.'
'The best way to find out if it makes a difference for you is simply to try it.’
'I have a much more comfortable night's sleep and feel so much more like I used to,' says 52-year-old Susan from Northamptonshire.’
When Susan began to feel more anxious and had trouble sleeping, a relative suggested that a supplement called Ashwagandha might help. Now, she wouldn't be without it.
'When you get to your late forties to early fifties, there are lots of hormonal changes in the body and it can often take you by surprise. Ashwagandha has helped me navigate those changes and I feel more like me again.'
'I feel calmer and more relaxed during the day, and I'm a lot less agitated than I was before I started on them. I take one in the morning and one at night. If I forget to take it at night, I'll get out of bed and go downstairs to take it – that's how strongly I feel about them.'
To purchase a 2 month supply in a letter box friendly, resealable foil package, Buy HERE.
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