A revered plant in Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha dates back more than 6,000 years as a healing tonic and aphrodisiac. Some of its practical uses today include reducing stress and anxiety, increasing energy levels, and improving concentration.1 Research backs these claims up, along with showing ashwagandha’s efficacy in lowering inflammation in the body.2 To decide whether or not ashwagandha is right for you, explore the compounds that make this ancient plant so powerful, the research that supports its many health benefits, and how to incorporate it into your health regime.
What Is Ashwagandha?
In Sanskrit, ashwagandha means “smell of the horse” referring to the distinct smell of the root and the plant’s touted power of giving users the strength of a horse. Native to Asia and Africa, ashwagandha grows as a small evergreen shrub, but its medicinal properties can be found primarily in the roots and berries. Its high concentration of withanolides are thought to contribute to its many health benefits.
Health Benefits of Ashwagandha
From fighting inflammation to reducing stress, there are numerous scientifically-proven health benefits of using ashwagandha. Here is what the research says about the efficacy of this ancient plant:
Fights inflammation: Chronic inflammation contributes to a variety of stress-related conditions and autoimmune diseases. Ashwagandha protects the body against such conditions by decreasing inflammation.3 Research also shows that the plant increases the activity of natural killer cells, which are immune cells that combat infection and support your immune system.4
Reduces stress and anxiety: As a powerful adaptogen, ashwagandha has shown to be useful in reducing stress and anxiety. One study showed that after taking ashwagandha for 60 days, the stress hormone cortisol decreased in participants, effectively lowering stress with no adverse effects.5
Increases energy and endurance: In a study of 50 healthy male/female athletic adults, ashwagandha enhanced cardiorespiratory endurance during exercise, proving the plant’s efficacy in increasing stamina and promoting longevity.6
Supports brain health: Thanks to its antioxidant properties, ashwagandha protects nerve cells in the brain. Some animal studies suggest that Aswagandha may also improve memory loss caused by injury or disease.7
Elevates mood: Aside from reducing stress and anxiety, ashwagandha may also help alleviate symptoms of mood disorders like depression. In one 60-day study, participants who took 600 mg of ashwagandha extract per day reported a 79 percent reduction in severe depression, while the placebo group reported a 10 percent increase.8
Is it Safe to Take Ashwagandha Daily?
Ashwagandha is safe for most people when taken daily. As research is still emerging on the safety of the plant, pregnant and breastfeeding women should probably avoid it, as well as people with autoimmune disorders and thyroid conditions unless directed by a physician.
How to Use Ashwagandha
Taken traditionally as a fine powder mixed with water, ghee, or honey, there are now a number of ashwagandha supplements available today to incorporate this plant easily into your health regime. The recommended dosage is 250–500 mg per day.9
Use ashwagandha to boost your immune system and prevent getting sick. But if you do catch a cold, flu, or cough, consider Brillia Health to help reduce cold and flu severity and duration and control coughing. Find out more about how Brillia Health works.
Erica Garza is an author and essayist from Los Angeles. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and a certificate in Narrative Therapy. Her writing has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women's Health, and VICE.