No one can escape stress. We all experience it to varying degrees. For some, it could be work related, for others it could be societal pressures. No matter what the reason is, we can all use some help to cope with stress.
Your diet and nutrition play an important role in your ability to tackle stress. Food has the ability to change several metabolic functions to reduce the body’s response to stress. Adding herbs to your diet through products like ashwagandha supplements can have remarkable effects.
What Is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha, also known as Indian Ginseng, is a medicinal plant that is indigenous to India and North Africa. It has been used for centuries to improve cognitive functions like memory. More recently, the stress relieving benefits of this herb surfaced, causing a surge in supplements containing its extracts.
It is a small shrub with yellow flowers which holds some powerful plant compounds within itself. One of these compounds known as withanolides is responsible for all the health benefits that this magical herb has to offer.
How Does It Help Cope With Stress?
There are several ways in which ashwagandha may reduce the levels of stress and increase your ability to deal with it:
- Reduced Cortisol Levels: When you experience stress, physical or mental, the body responds by producing cortisol. This is the stress hormone which is very important in triggering our instinctive flight or fight response. However, when the levels of cortisol rise above the accepted levels, it can lead to more severe symptoms like stress and anxiety.
Ashwagandha is known to naturally reduce the cortisol level in the body. This reduces various symptoms related to stress, allowing you to cope better.
- Blocked Stress Pathways: Any response generated towards a stimulus is the result of various signals that pass through the nervous system. Even with stress, there are certain pathways that are activated to help your body prepare. However, if these pathways are activated with very mild stimuli, it can lead to chronic stress. Prolonged activation can also cause severe stress.
Ashwagandha blocks these pathways to reduce the symptoms associated with stress. This helps you relax and feel more rejuvenated.
- Better Sleep: The exact mechanism of ashwagandha in the body that leads to improved sleep is not very well researched. However, there are many studies to show that participants who consumed ashwagandha supplements were able to enjoy a healthier sleep cycle. It also helped reduce the severity of insomnia in many participants.
The adaptogenic property of ashwagandha that helps you cope with stress may be attributed to this. When you are more relaxed, you tend to sleep better. This in turn increases your ability to cope with stress.
- Higher Levels of Energy: Individuals who suffer from anxiety and depression usually have very low energy levels. Ashwagandha is known to boost your energy level, providing support to any treatment that you may be undergoing for these conditions.
In fact the name Ashwagandha was given to this herb because of its potent ability to energize. It is a Sanskrit word which, when translated, means scent of a horse. The testosterone boosting capacity of this herb can also be linked with one feeling revitalized after regular consumption.
- Powerful Antioxidant Benefits: Free radical build up causes immense stress to your cells and tissues. This can throw a lot of metabolic functions off balance, making it harder for you to cope with stress. Ashwagandha provides a good dose of antioxidizing plant compounds that keep you feeling energized and less stressed.
Ashwagandha is a valuable addition to your diet, especially in the current scenario where stress is inevitable. However, before using these supplements, make sure you consult your doctor. It is important to remember that these herbs, although 100% natural, are extremely potent. So, make sure you understand the dosage and ensure that it is safe for you to use before starting any supplementation.