Ashwagandha has been used for thousands of years in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka for its many qualities. It is well-known in Ayurvedic medicine as an adaptogen and a regenerative tonic (rasayana), but it is a peculiar adaptogen: it is a calming tonic, which may seem somewhat contradictory.
Like all adaptogens, ashwagandha keeps the body from depleting its reserves during prolonged stress, keeping us healthy during difficult periods. It also tones the nervous system and calms anxiety, mood swings and the blues, which is appeasing and relaxing. Its latin name Withonia somnifera can be misleading as it does not cause sleep but rather, it regulates perturbed sleep cycles. The calm and restful sleep that ashwagandha provides gives us a stong energy without overexciting, contrary to other herbs like ginseng.
It is said that ashwagandha gives the strength of a horse, but here we mean a workhorse rather than an excitable stallion. When I think of ashwagandha, I see strong legs planted firmly in the ground, a solid back, powerful shoulders and a strong will. Ashwagandha makes us feel that we can move though thick and thin without wavering.
This herb gives strength and endurance so that we can tackle tasks that seem insurmountable. It gives the physical energy and mental strength to take on very demanding circumstances. For athletes, it increases performance and physical stamina. As an adaptogen and a calming nerve tonic, it is excellent for fatigue, exhaustion, weakness and loss of weight due to stress. It helps to get back on one’s feet after an illness and it prevents premature aging brought on by intense stress. It is a good herb to have on hand in these rapidly changing times.