Ashwagandha, also called “winter cherry” or “Indian ginseng,” is an important and powerful herb used in the Ayurvedic system of health and healing. It has been called the Indian Ginseng because of the way it rejuvenates the nervous system and minimizes the negative effects of stress. Ashwagandha has been used by Ayurveda for thousands of years as a rasāyana (rejuvenative) and an adaptogenic herb (resist physiological and psychological stress).
The Ashwagandha plant is a member of the pepper family. The small evergreen grows in the drier parts of western India to a height of about 2-3 ft. Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, meaning that it helps regulate the body’s ability to withstand stress and increases its general performance in ways that help the whole body resist illness.
The herb is used to treat many different conditions including asthma, arthritis, depression, hypertension, cold & stomach ulcers. Ashwagandha provides nutritional support to rejuvenate both mind and body. It nourishes the nervous system, increases stamina, relieves fatigue & calms without producing drowsiness.
When taken in the morning, it gives great energy to be used throughout the busy day. Ashwagandha can also be effectively used for sleep. The most common cause of insomnia is not having too much energy, but actually having too little. At the end of a stressful day, we end up feeling both wired and tired. When taken before bed, Ashwagandha provides the body with the energy it needs to settle itself down naturally for a good night’s sleep. Containing the tastes of sweet, bitter, and astringent, Ashwagandha helps to balance both Vata and Kapha. There are many conditions in which Vata and Kapha are out of balance, and that are difficult to treat – but Ashwagandha, a powerful remedy, offers a great solution. But in excess, because of its heating, unctuous, building nature, it can imbalance Pitta, and also worsen ama (toxic build-up).
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