It's our mission to source the best holistic remedies. We hunt for the truth around using chlorella to detox, the anti-aging properties of red algae, and any other sort of benefits we can reap from nature.
The same goes for the adaptogenic herb, ashwagandha (osh-wah-gon-duh).
An herbal medicine that has been used, studied, and practiced for centuries in Eastern cultures, ashwagandha vitamin is undeniably the most prolific adaptogen. It's generally known to strengthen the body's ability to cope with chronic stress by regulating cortisol levels while also having anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory properties.
So it's no surprise that GEM products are filled with the zen-causing plant root. But our ashwagandha fascination didn't stop there. We've dug a little deeper for the "how," the "what," and the science behind all the woo-woo. Here's what we found…
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha, sometimes called “Indian ginseng” or Withania somnifera, is a small evergreen shrub that is short and squat with velvety leaves and bell flowers that contain orange berries, and thus a distant cousin to tomatoes and eggplants. The herb is native to India, specifically the drier areas of India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, and has been treasured within Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years to treat a wide range of health conditions. Modern science is finding evidence to support some of these uses.
Herbal medicine commonly uses ashwagandha root, which is turned into powders, tinctures, and even added to milk for an added dose of doze.
What is Ashwagandha root?
The Ashwagandha root is the medicinal part of the plant that has several bioactive chemicals including, steroidal lactones (skeletal steroids), flavonoids (antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and anti-allergic properties), tannin (astringent).
The root is typically ground and dried out into ashwagandha powders, tinctures, and even added to milk for an added dose of its life-prolonging, stress-relieving properties.
Ashwagandha root is considered a plant or medicine of "Rasayana," a Sanskrit word that translates to "path of essence." Ayurvedic medicine focuses on the science of lengthening the body's lifespan. But there's a difference between merely living longer and living well. The potential health benefits of ashwagandha root powder may support the latter as they're surprisingly wide-reaching.
What is Ashwagandha root extract used for?
Traditionally, organic ashwagandha has been prescribed as an adaptogen—an agent that helps the body adapt to various emotional and physical stressors.
While ashwagandha supplementation has a long list of benefits, modern studies have reinforced ashwagandha's main advantage is its potential to do just as historic Ayurvedic practitioners have claimed -- reduce stress and anxiety and promote a general sense of calm.
How exactly? Well, the ayurvedic herb has been shown to produce and regulate healthy levels of cortisol, which are the hormones stimulated in response to stress. Because stress is the cause of an overwhelming amount of health conditions, helping the body adapt better to it eventually benefits every system, including the immune, cardiovascular, and nervous systems and the brain, muscles, and joints.
And not all of these potential benefits are connected to stress. Some research suggests that ashwagandha may also reduce insomnia, fatigue, and symptoms of depression, while also strengthening the immune system, but these benefits haven't been well-researched for these purposes.
The ability to adapt to daily life's stress has unquestionable appeal, but that doesn't mean everyone should be popping an ashwagandha supplement before rushing to the subway in rush hour.
Yes, it's one of the more calming adaptogens, but for people who have low energy, it might be counterproductive. Ashwagandha extract is of course safe, but it may cause mild drowsiness for some people.
How to use Ashwagandha
According to Ayurveda, our bodies are made up of food. The nutrients we ingest via food are metabolized into the energy and information that form our cells, tissues, and organs. Our bodies need essential vitamins and minerals to maintain our body's delicate balance every day.
If you do try ashwagandha, start by looking for a high-quality product. Tinctures, powders, and capsules make it easy to ensure you take the right dose regularly, but it's recommended to stay close to the complete form possible. When taking pills, we start to lose the relationship with the ashwagandha plant itself as we don't know what it tastes like, we don't know what color it is, or what it smells like.
The whole point of taking ashwagandha (or any supplement) is to consume a high(er) concentration of the plant's health-boosting compounds to reap the ashwagandha benefits. But unfortunately, the supplement industry isn't tightly regulated, which means companies are claiming their product is Cinderella's chariot when, under the label, it's just a pumpkin.
Ashwagandha leaves are generally cheaper to produce since using the root requires digging up most of the plant. Researchers have found that companies mix leaves and stems of ashwagandha into their root powders without declaring that on the label.
If you're looking to start using ashwagandha, GEM's multivitamins feature only the natural ingredients straight from the plant-source.
Remember, ashwagandha isn't meant to be used as a spot treatment. Like most multivitamins or supplements, it's meant to be taken consistently and regularly to reap the benefits. Over time (think longer than 90 days), you should expect to feel changes like increased calm, reduced fatigue, and maybe an overall mood change.
Most people don't notice a change until something drastic happens in their life or day they realize they responded in a more calm manner than they might have otherwise.
So, what's the consensus? There are so many alternatives to living a healthier, happier, and more whole life than taking an over-the-counter pill or finding a quick fix that won't last. Adaptogens such as ashwagandha hold a long-lived history and prove that investing in what the earth has already put on the ground for us is simple yet significant.