Ashwagandha, or Withania somnifera, has many names. Indian ginseng, padalsingh, and winter cherry are just a few of the titles that it also carries. As its most common moniker, Indian ginseng, implies, ashwagandha has certain rejuvenating properties that make it one of the most beloved herbs in the health world.
Of course, ashwagandha isn't actually related to the ginseng. Instead, it belongs to the same family as the tomato. Growing from shrubs, ashwagandha emerge from yellow flowers as small bulb-like fruits. As it is indigenous to the dryer regions of Indian, China, and Yemen, it was first used in those areas for its restorative benefits.
It was often prescribed to strengthen one's immune system, specifically in Ayurvedic medicine. In some cases, Ashwagandha may also balance thyroid hormones, combat effects of stress, reduce anxiety and signs of depression. Perhaps most importantly, ashwagandha has shown to lower cortisol levels.
Cortisol, which is created in the adrenal glands, helps the body convert sugar and fat into energy. When levels of it increases too much (which occurs when the pituitary gland releases the adrenocorticotropic hormone), it can cause a number of health issues, including rapid weight gain, muscle weakness, osteoporosis, and more.
A healthy cortisol level can better one's metabolism and also helps the body manage stress, which is why incorporating ashwagandha can help combat the effects of stress and anxiety.
In Sanskrit, ashwagandha means "the smell of the horse," which is a nod to Indian ginseng's ability to aid one's immune system, giving the ill the "strength of a stallion."
The root of ashwagandha is usually what's used, often ground to a fine powder so that it can be easily added to one's diet. Though it can simply be put into a smoothie, we've gathered a few recipes for you to try ashwagandha and reap the benefits of this awesome superfood.
Try the recipes below!
Via Cure Joy
1/4 cup Ashwaganda powder
1/4 cup maca powder
1-2 tbsp raw cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp unrefined sea salt
1/2 cup coconut butter
1/2 cup of honey
1/2 cup hemp butter
Pour the mixture into a silicon mini-muffin tray or chocolate mold.
Place in the freezer to set.
Store in a cool place.
Via Bon Appetit
1 cup whole milk or unsweetened nut milk (such as hemp, almond, or cashew)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon ground ashwagandha (or another adaptogen, like shatavari or astralagus)
2 pinches of ground cardamom
Pinch of ground ginger (optional)
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon virgin coconut oil or ghee
1 teaspoon honey, preferably raw
Bring milk to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in cinnamon, turmeric, ashwagandha, cardamom, ginger, if using, and nutmeg; season with pepper. Whisk vigorously to incorporate any clumps. Add coconut oil, reduce heat to low, and continue to cook until warmed through, 5–10 minutes (the longer you go, the stronger the medicine). Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Stir in honey (you want to avoid cooking honey or you'll destroy its healing goodness). Pour into a mug, drink warm, and climb right into bed.
Add this to some Urban Cultivator-grown microgreens, and you have something that's not only healthy but delicious.
Have you tried ashwagandha before? How do you like to add it to your diet? Let us know in the comments section!