Ashwagandha, which means the smell of the horse in Sanskrit, is one of the most used Ayurvedic herbs. It is also known as Withania Somnifera, Ginseng equivalent and Indian winter cherry. Ayurveda mentions Ashwagandha in the treatment of many diseases such as diabetes, cancer, etc. However, it is most popular for its adaptogenic activity that helps to manage stress and anxiety effectively.
Ashwagandha is Tikta (bitter), Katu (pungent) and Madhura (sweet) in taste and exhibits Laghu (light) and Snigdha (oily) qualities. It is hot in potency and is known to pacify Vata and Kapha Dosha while slightly aggravating Pitta Dosha in the body. Owing to the many therapeutic uses and benefits of Ashwagandha, it is vastly used in the treatment of many diseases, including anxiety and depression.
Cortisol is a hormone that adrenal glands produce as a response to stress. High levels of cortisol can lead to many diseases such as anxiety, depression, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. Therefore, it is extremely important to maintain cortisol levels to treat anxiety. According to Ayurveda, Ashwagandha is one of the most effective herbs to reduce the levels of cortisol.
Apart from reducing cortisol levels, Ashwagandha also helps relieve many other symptoms of anxiety such as nervousness, sweating, trembling, rapid heartbeat, etc.
According to Ayurveda, Ashwagandha helps to induce sleep. Anxiety and sleep are related to each other. Sleep deprivation can cause insomnia and anxiety, whereas anxiety can make it difficult for you to fall asleep. Therefore, regulating the sleep cycle and treating sleep disorders is essential to managing anxiety.
Ashwagandha is also known to reduce oxidative stress in the brain and improve brain function, which further helps to reduce stress and anxiety.
According to Ayurveda, anxiety is a Vata disorder that occurs when excess Vata gets accumulated in the nervous system. Ashwagandha is one of the best herbs to reduce Vata in the body, thereby treating anxiety.
Ashwagandha does not have any severe side effects. However, since Ashwagandha is a powerful medicinal herb, it is always advisable to see an Ayurvedic doctor before consuming Ashwagandha. It is essential to take the herb in the right method and dosage. If taken in large dosage, you may suffer from side effects such as diarrhoea, vomiting, liver problems, etc. It is also recommended that pregnant women should avoid consuming Ashwagandha.
Ashwagandha is one of the most effective Ayurvedic herbs to alleviate anxiety. It helps reduce cortisol levels, boost brain function, regulate the sleep cycle and pacify Vata Dosha, all of which are important for managing anxiety. Furthermore, it is also beneficial in the treatment of many diseases such as diabetes, cancer, skin disorders, heart diseases, etc.
This article is reviewed by Dr. Sanjeev Prabhakar Purkar