Home Health The little-known plant that can help you sleep better and reduce stress

The little-known plant that can help you sleep better and reduce stress

When it comes to reducing stress, enhancing sleep, and boosting energy, there are numerous approaches to consider.

A lesser-known plant that offers these benefits—and is also excellent for overall health—is Ashwagandha. Holland & Barrett (H&B) report that Ashwagandha has been used in traditional Indian medicine for centuries. It has been used to address various conditions, from arthritis to rheumatism, and is often used to boost the health of athletes and the elderly.

However, experts caution against using Ashwagandha during pregnancy and lactation, and advise consulting a doctor before combining it with other medications.

So what is ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha, a small evergreen shrub, is native to parts of India, the Middle East, and Africa. The name ‘ashwagandha’ derives from the Sanskrit ‘ashva’, meaning ‘horse’, and ‘gandha’, meaning ‘smell’, indicative of the root’s horse-like scent. This plant is collected, dried, and ground into a powder, which is then sold as ashwagandha supplements. In Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha has long been revered as one of the most powerful herbs, boasting a rich history spanning thousands of years.

Is ashwagandha good for me?

According to the health experts, potential uses of ashwagandha that have been researched include effects on:

  • stress
  • sexual function
  • fertility
  • athletic performance
  • cognitive performance
  • pain
  • fatigue
  • thyroid function
  • diabetes
  • hypercholesterolemia
  • tuberculosis

H&B caution: “There have been many scientific studies on ashwagandha, many of which, however, have small sample sizes, short duration times, and other limitations. So, further robust studies are needed to confirm these potential benefits.”

What can Ashwagandha help with?

According to H&B, the plant may be able to:

  • Reduce stress
  • Help with fatigue
  • Increase testosterone
  • Help with poor memory
  • Improve concentration
  • Help with better quality sleep
  • Help with low libido
  • Improve endurance
  • Reduce joint pain
  • Help with neurological conditions

H&B state that ashwagandha is known to have a substantial amount of Withanolides, which are the herb’s main active components. These Withanolides are primarily found in the roots and their concentration varies among different extracts. As with any supplement, following the manufacturer’s guidelines for ashwagandha consumption is essential. Although it is typically safe for most people, the long-term effects of ashwagandha are still not fully known.

They caution: “Typical doses, taken on a short-term basis, may cause mild to moderate side effects, such as headaches, sleepiness and stomach upsets.You should avoid taking it if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, taking certain medications, or have an autoimmune disease or if advised by your GP.”


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