ASH :: WAH :: GUN :: DUH
Herbal Highlight: Get the best sleep of your life.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is my all time favorite herb for the colder winter months. It is a root that is used widely in Ayurvedic medicine and as an adaptogen, it lessens the effects of mental and physical stress on the mind and the body. It is also a powerful herb for getting a restful night sleep.
I first came across this herb in my early herbal studies and incorporated it into my evening routine as a tonic for adrenal fatigue and overuse. At the time I was particularly stressed out and my nervous system felt like it was fried and frazzled. It is slightly heating and I noticed that I couldn’t use it as much during the summer months as it created too much heat but in the cooler months, it is a life saver.
I always recommend this herb to people with nervous system issues, in particular extra stress. As an adaptogen it will lessen the effects of physical and mental stress on the body. With it’s remarkably high iron content, I like to recommend it to my vegetarian, vegan, and female clients who complain of iron deficiency. When I drink this herb on a regular basis, it feels as if some strong, nurturing presence is putting the hands on my shoulders, rooting me to the ground, and encouraging me to take a deep breath. This is an effect that I only receive by drinking the power or taking strong capsule vs accepting the liquid extract, I believe it’s because of it’s high iron content.
As a sleep aid, it is one of the most significant supporters of a good night sleep I have found. Every single person I have suggested this recipe to has reported one of the best night sleeps they have had in a long time. It is non a hypnotic or a sedative so it most likely won’t make you tired or drowsy but it will enhance your sleep so that you wake in the morning and feel rested.
This herb is also fabulous for day time use as well as it soothes the adrenal glands and gives you more energy. I like to think that whatever you are doing, whether sleeping, yoga, meditation, working out, ashwagandha is gonna help you do it better. It’s also really helpful to add it to your daily routine if you regularly can’t seem to get enough rest. A good way to start is with about 1/2-1 teaspoon of the powder in your evening tea and add more as you find the right amount for you. If you wake up feeling drowsy, you’ll know you added too much and if you didn’t sleep so well, you can add more the next night. I personally find that 1-1.5 teaspoons is right for me but 2 teaspoons make me feel drunk in the morning.
- 1/2-2 teaspoons ashwagandha powder*
- 1 cup of hot water or favorite evening tea (I love a blend of chamomile, lavender, roses, & ginger)
- 1/2 cup of milk of choice (almond, dairy, or coconut cream are great options)
- sweetener to taste
- A dash of your favorite spices (I prefer cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, turmeric, nutmeg)
- combine all your ingredients and drink
- I recommend keeping a spoon handy as the ashwagandha will have a tendency to settle on the bottom of the cup leaving an unpleasant last sip
- grows primarily in INDIA but very easy to grow in Florida.
- part used: root
- alternative name: winter cherry
- Ashwagandha translates into smell of a horse which probably accounts for it’s strong taste
- the taste is very easy to get past and becomes enjoyable once you begin to feel the effects
- protects and strengthens the immune system
- combatst he negative effects of stress
- improves learning, memory, & reaction time
- reduces anxiety and depression without causing drowsiness
- stabilizes blood sugar
- lowers cholesterol
- part of the night-shade family (so if you have night shade allergies, it’s best to stay away)
- most well known Ayurvedic herb, particularly for it’s restorative benefits
- should not be consumed with fruit because of the enzymes required to metabolize it
- ashwagandha is best absorbed with fat so a handful of nuts or dairy or a slice of cheese is recommended