Ashwagandha the Ayurvedic Adaptogen | Maharishi Ayurveda Blog

Ashwagandha the Ayurvedic Adaptogen


One of the “trending” herbs in health and wellness, Ashwagandha, has long been a favorite in Ayurveda. This gentle, yet powerful Vata balancing, single herb reduces the response to stress and helps fortify the body’s natural resistance to stress.

A traditional Indian Ayurvedic herb, the botanical name of the ashwagandha plant is Withania somnifera (which actually means “sleep”, more on that below). It is also known as winter cherry and referred to as Indian ginseng because of its rejuvenative and restorative properties.

“Ashwagandha is one of the most powerful tools for calming the brain,” writes integrative neurologist and Ayurvedic expert Kulreet Chaudhary, M.D., in her book The Prime.

Integrative physician Nancy Lonsdorf, M.D., says “One of my favorite herbs against stress is Ashwagandha. It does its magic without overstimulating or making you nervous or unsettled-feeling. Ashwagandha is calming and yet strengthening.”

It’s praised in Ayurveda as a rasayana (life-promoting), and Ayurvedic experts recommend it. Here are a few more reasons to try Ashwagandha.

Adapt to Stress
“Ashwagandha falls into a very special category of herbs called adaptogens; there is just a handful of these that we know of in nature,” says Dr. Kulreet Chaudnary. Adaptogens help the body adapt to stress. When under stress, the body starts secreting stress hormones to prepare us for either a fight or flight. This works if you are in a dangerous situation; however, what if you are just driving in traffic or you are chronically stressed at work? Such a strong stress response may not be necessary. “What herbs like Ashwagandha and other adaptogens do is help to down-regulate. So your body isn't reacting like you're being chased by a lion every time your boss just walks down the hallway. It gives the rest of your organs a break from getting that constant hammering of the biochemical cascade that is triggered by stress,” says Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary.

The root of excess worry, overthinking, or racing thoughts can be traced to the imbalance of Vata dosha in the mind, as Vata governs movement in the body and mind (think of thoughts as movement in the mind.) Ashwagandha simply addresses this Vata imbalance, and it begins to settle down that excess worry, that excess activity, that Vata is so susceptible to in the nervous system. (Read more on balancing Vata Dosha, here.)

Effects on Sleep
Back to the name Withania somnifera. In Latin, this actually means “sleep”. With its calming effect, Ashwagandha can actually help you fall asleep and get deeper sleep during the night. And for this reason, it is a key ingredient in our synergistically balanced sleep formulas. Blissful Sleep can help you wind down and fall asleep, and Deep Rest can help you stay asleep if you tend to wake up before a full night of sleep.

The Surprising Benefits
The name Ashwagandha actually means “smell of a horse”. This nods to its ability to impart the strength and vitality of a stallion, meaning it is known to support a healthy libido and improve the healthy functioning of the reproductive systems for both men and women. For women, it tends to increase and support the production of progesterone, which is the strengthening and supporting hormone that balances estrogen.

How to Use Ashwagandha
Based on the Ayurvedic texts, our panel of Vaidyas (Ayurvedic Physicians) recommends 1-2 tablets of Ashwagandha twice daily for maximum effectiveness. Try our Organic Ashwagandha in a convenient, easy-to-swallow compressed herbal tablet.

In addition to our sleep products, our emotional balance products are powerful synergistic blends containing Ashwagandha. Worry Free paired with Organic Ashwagandha is a balancing combination for Vata dosha, calming and settling a worried mind.

We encourage you to talk to your Ayurvedic practitioner about how best to incorporate Ashwagandha into your diet and lifestyle. Wherever in the world you are, you can easily book an online consultation with one of our Maharishi Ayurveda experts.

© Copyright 2019 Maharishi Ayurvedic Products International, Inc. (MAPI). All Rights Reserved. MAPI does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. See additional information.