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Want to relieve stress naturally? Consider Ashwagandha, a type of Indian herb. Also known as Indian ginseng, ashwagandha has extraordinary stress-relieving properties. Its calming effects can be compared to those of traditional depression and anxiety treatments.
Ashwagandha can help you to reduce or even avoid the use of often-harmful and over-prescribed pharmaceuticals. But that’s just one potential benefit. In addition to relieving stress, Ashwagandha has been shown to protect brains cells against the physiological damage that stress puts on your body. It’s been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic (Indian) medicine. Not just to target stress, but also to boost hormones and strengthen the immune system.
Modern-day medicine has shown ashwagandha to be just as effective as some antidepressant drugs. Specifically, oral administration of ashwagandha for five days led to:
Anxiety-relieving effects similar to those achieved by the anti-anxiety drug lorazepam (Ativan), and
Antidepressant effects similar to those of the prescription antidepressant drug imipramine (Tofranil).
Ashwagandha achieves these effects by increasing specific antioxidant enzymes in the body that are depleted during stressful times.
In another study, 85% of the brain cells observed in the animals exposed to chronic stress showed signs of degeneration. It is this type of cellular degeneration that can lead to long-term cognitive difficulties.
When ashwagandha was administered to chronically stressed animals, the number of degenerating brain cells was reduced by 80%!
Ashwagandha can help manage not only mental stress, but also physical. As anyone who has been stressed, which is everyone, can attest to — it’s not just the mind that is affected but the body as well. It sucks your energy from you no matter how hard you try. And for severe cases of depression, it can be physically difficult to even get out of bed.
This is because stress causes the release of a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is needed in the body. But too much of it can have negative effects on the body like weight gain, compromised immune function and higher risk for chronic disease.
Studies show ashwagandha can reduce cortisol levels in the body up to 26%. It can also prompt a decline in fasting blood sugar levels, and improve lipid profiles.
The key component in ashwagandha that provides these remarkable benefits is a chemical called withanolide. Unfortunately, cheap ashwagandha supplements either have very lower levels of withanolides, or come from the leaf of the plant have no withanolides at all. Effective ashwagandha must come from the root of the plant.
Ashwagandha effects may take a month or so for you to really notice, but they should only get better over time. Unlike dangerous pharmaceutical medications, which are simply a band-aid, ashwagandha can help you heal in both body and mind.
From the most extreme cases of depression to the daily stresses of modern life, this healing herb may be right for you. But before you add it to your daily routine or use it to replace other medications, be sure to check with your doctor first.