Hello dear friends!
It’s been a little while since I’ve done any kind of spotlight post, so I figured now was a great time to start up again, and take the opportunity to start chatting about my favorite herbs! For those of you who know me or follow me online, you already know that I am obsessed with herbs, I make my own herbal products, and will be going to herbalist school soon. Being the herb nerd that I am, and having first-hand knowledge of the healing powers of plant medicine, I thought I’d start sharing a few of my favorites on the blog. Hooray!
For my first official herb spotlight post, there really is no better place for me to start than with ashwagandha. I love this herb so much that I consider it to be my “spirit plant”, and I use it every single day in either tincture or tea format. It has changed my life for the better, and a lot of people aren’t familiar with it, so buckle up friends, we’re taking a little trip across the world to India.
In the traditional healing system of Ayurveda, Ashwagandha has been used for centuries as an overall tonic for vitality, stamina, and focus. Before we really dig into this super-plant, here it is at a glance:
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
- Sanskrit name translates to: “smell of a horse” and it is thought to impart the “strength of a stallion”
- Also known as: Indian Ginseng, winter cherry
- Parts used: root
- Grows abundantly throughout India, Northern Africa, and the Middle East
- Perennial shrub with green oval leaves, yellow flowers, and small red fruit
Ashwagandha is one of the members of a class of herbs called adaptogens (my favorites!), which all work in ways that balance, restore, and protect the body. These herbs help all physiological systems adapt to stressors, whether those are from poor diet, lack of sleep, chronic overwork, physical exertion, or immunological attack. Adaptogens support optimal endocrine functioning, immune system response, mental sharpness, and energy production. And yes, in case you’re thinking what I’m thinking, these herbs are truly super-herbs! It’s my opinion that everyone, no matter their current condition, can benefit from adding adaptogens to their daily diet.
One of the best things about this herb, for me anyway, is that you can safely take this long-term and at higher doses without side effects or loss of potency over time. These kinds of herbs have been used as “tonics” for millennia, in every corner of the globe. They’re like holistic health insurance, giving the body the boost that it needs to continue functioning in our high-stress world. Ashwagandha is known as a calming adaptogen, as you may have guessed from its Latin name, somnifera, which means “sleep inducing.” While it may not be strong enough to act alone as a sleep aid, it is wonderful for calming nervous tension, quieting the mind, and helping shift the body into the “rest and digest” mode that is needed for deep healing.
Besides helping me with energy levels and stamina throughout the day, ashwagandha was alluring to me because of its benefits for the thyroid and adrenal glands. For those of you who don’t know, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism when I was only 15 years old, and have been on thyroid hormone replacement ever since (first Synthroid, then Armour Thyroid). However, after 9 months on ashwagandha, along with coconut oil and kelp supplementation, and removing gluten from my diet, I am proud to say that I am no longer in need of my thyroid medication! Over the past year, my thyroid tests have shown a steady shift towards normal, which I attribute to my new diet and herbal therapies. And that’s pretty damn exciting!
There are too many amazing benefits of Ashwagandha to go into depth on here, so I’ll give them to you in a list!
This peppy little plant is awesome for:
- Boosting overall energy levels
- Improving mental and physical stamina
- Boosting libido in both men and women
- Correcting hypothyroidism
- Healing adrenal fatigue
- Reducing anxiety
- Calming the nervous system and mind
- Improving sleep quality
- Helping the body combat environmental stressors
- Boosting immune functioning
- Stabilizing blood sugar levels
- Reducing brain cell degeneration
- Lowering the “bad” type of cholesterol
- Preventing and treating cancer
Ashwagandha certainly is a power player in my book, which is why I feature it in so many of my tinctures, tea blends, and other herbal recipes. It is often taken as a powder, can be combined with many other herbs quite easily, and tastes nutty and sweet. I absolutely love making buttery energy balls (aka “zoom balls”), and this is the perfect herb to incorporate. It blends nicely with things like: maca root, licorice root (the herb, not the candy), gotu kola, cinnamon, rhodiola, medicinal mushrooms like reishi and chaga, and quite a few more. Want to give it a go? Here’s an easy peasy recipe for ya!
- 2 Cups nut butter (almond is my fave, but you can use cashew, walnut, or peanut too)
- ½ cup dried unsweetened cherries
- ½ cup raw cacao nibs
- ¼ cup hemp hearts
- ¼ cup raw honey (go local for maximum immune/allergy support)
- ¼ cup Ashwagandha powder
- 1 tbsp cinnamon powder
- Unsweetened coconut flakes to coat
Mix all ingredients (except the coconut) together until it creates a well-formed dough. Using a cookie dough scoop or a large spoon, divide dough into balls, rolling them briefly in your hands. Roll to coat in the coconut flakes, and place in the refrigerator. These keep well in the freezer too! Store in an airtight container.
Because of all the incredible research behind ashwagandha, and of course, my own personal success with this herb, it’s always one of the top herbs that I recommend to my friends and clients. Whether you are suffering from a chronic illness or not, it never hurts to give your body a bit of support, especially when it comes to the immune and endocrine systems! And for the millions of people who are living with low thyroid or adrenal fatigue, this can be a game-changer. Plus, if you are dealing with something less common like clinical Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Lyme Disease, this herb can take your healing to a whole new level.
Got questions about Ashwaganda or how to incorporate it into your life? Leave me a comment below, or shoot me an email! And check out my Etsy shop- I am offering handmade, organic herbal products, including several formulas that feature Ashwaganda!
Wishing you the strength and vigor of a horse, my friends…
~ Hoping you feel as well as possible ~