Ashwagandha is a branched herbal shrub that has been used within traditional Ayurvedic medicine for over 4000 years. It classically has many medicinal applications, including helping people to get better-quality rest and fall asleep faster.

Learn more about this herb here, like where it grows, how it is used, and the health benefits of Ashwagandha.

What is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha has been used for thousands of years in Ayurveda, the traditional medicine system of India, as a natural-based pain reliever and sleep aid. It’s now gaining popularity in the Western world as people seek out more natural and complementary medicines.

Facts about Ashwagandha include:

  • It’s a member of the nightshade family of plants and a relative of the tomato
  • When blooming, the shrub has green and yellow flowers and red cherry-like fruits
  • Ashwagandha is found naturally growing across the world. It natively grows in India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. It can also be found in parts of Africa, from South Africa to Botswana and Namibia. You could even spot it in Southern China, the Middle East and the Mediterranean
  • It is a hardy plant that can grow in many terrains, from forests and riverbanks to savannas and among rocks
  • Other names for Ashwagandha include Indian ginseng and winter cherry
  • Its Latin botanical name Withania somnifera includes the species name somnifera meaning ‘sleep-bearing’
  • Its roots, stems and leaves contain active compounds called withanolides, which are responsible for Ashwagandha’s effects on the body
  • Ayurvedic medicine categorises plants based on their uses and actions on the body. Ashwagandha is classified as a Rasayana herb. Rasayanas are said to be revitalising and help improve the body’s resistance to stress

Many of the herbal shrub’s medicinal uses come from Ashwagandha root extract. The root of the plant is considered to have a tonic effect to improve wellbeing, according to traditional Ayurvedic medicine.

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What are the health benefits of Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha has many health benefits cited in Ayurvedic medicine. But, in this guide, we’re focusing on its uses for improving sleep quality and mild pain relief.

Ashwagandha for sleep

Ashwagandha is used as an Ayurvedic remedy for sleep to this day. Sleep is important for proper nervous system function, and other essential bodily functions. Not getting enough sleep can lead to poor general and mental health.

Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, which is a type of herb that helps the body adapt to stress. Its benefits on sleep quality and helping people fall asleep are often linked to stress relief.

Ashwagandha and mild pain relief

As an analgesic plant, taking Ashwagandha helps prevent pain signals from travelling along the body’s central nervous system (CNS). This soothes the CNS from pain responses and relieves pain for the user.

How is Ashwagandha taken?

Ashwagandha can be taken in many ways. Some people consume its raw roots and berries for medicinal effects. Otherwise, it comes as a fine powder known as ‘churna’ that can be mixed with water to make tea. You can also use it as a tincture or tablets if you prefer. The plant gets its common name from the belief that the Ashwagandha root smells like a horse (‘ashwa’ meaning ‘horse’ in Sanskrit). This suggests that taking it in tincture or powder form may not be the best-tasting method of consumption.

Senior woman getting out of bed holding lower back in pain

This is where tablets come in. Tablets allow you to swallow the Ayurvedic medicine without lingering on the smell or taste, while also having dosage control. You don’t have to measure out liquid or powder to get an accurate dose.

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