Bontanical Name: Withania somnifera
Part used: Root
Energy/Taste: Mildly warming, bitter, dry
Ayurvedic Doshic Tendencies: Vata/Kapha + weak Agni
Tincture: 30-40 drops, 3 times per day
Capsules: 2 "00" capsules, three times a day, taken with fat
Powdered: 3 grams mixed with the warm milk of your choice (not fat-free), and 1 Tbsp. raw honey or molasses. Other herbs may be incorporated.
The Hindi name for ashwagandha is asgandh, which translates "sweat of a horse," or "smelling like a horse," and is a reference to the plant's ability to give users the strength and stamina of a stallion...and also to its odor. Sorry. All good things come at a price. Fortunately, ashwagandha is most often taken in warm milk with honey or molasses and other, more pleasant-tasting herbs. For my clients with tender palates, I do make both a tincture and capsules from the freshly ground plant.
Ashwagandha is the main tonic herb (rasayana) in Ayurvedic herbalism. It has a long history of application in India, including:
In the West, there are no fewer applications for this adaptogen.
I most frequently use it for insomnia, as it both nourishes and regulates the metabolic processes, thereby balancing cortisol. Ashwagandha is not a sedative, but rather helps re-establish long-term sleeping habits over time. I also find it to be a helpful addition to any herbal protocol designed to reduce chronic anxiety.
Who should avoid taking ashwagandha? Avoid using ashwagandha if you are pregnant, or nursing. Do not use if you are taking barbituates. Avoid if you are sensitive to plants in the nightshade family, or if you have excess iron (hemochromatosis). Also, those with hyperthyroidism should not take ashwagandha.
8 oz milk of choice (not fat-free)
3 grams (one scant teaspoon) ashwagandha powder
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1/4 tsp. ground ginger or cinnamon, or both
1 Tbsp raw honey or molasses (blackstrap molasses if anemic)
Warm milk in pan on stovetop without bringing to a boil. Whisk in herbs first, and then sweetener of choice. Enjoy!
If you think you might benefit from this gentle yet powerful adaptogen, please contact me.
-The Way of Ayurvedic Herbs, by Karta Purkh Singh Khalasa and Michael Tierra
-300 Herbs, Their Indications and Contraindications, by Matthew Alfs
- Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief, by David Winston and Steven Maimes