Ashwagandha to the rescue!
(Read part 1 to this post here, then come back here to read part 2!)
Ashwagandha root (Withania somnifera) was the first adaptogen that helped me. You’ve probably heard of it. It’s one of the more well known adaptogens, and for good reason! It's widely used in the Ayurvedic tradition of wellness, and it’s now on the shelves in most health food stores in the U.S.
I was working for an organization where I felt incredibly stressed out and unhappy. I had bad acne, was hardly sleeping, muscle twitches all over the body (especially near my eyes!), waking up to pee several times throughout the night because my nervous system was constantly turned on. I could not relax.
This also happened to be the time where I enrolled in herb school (night and weekend classes). After beginning school and doing my own research, I decided that Ashwagandha seemed like the right herb for me to try. It's known as a calming adaptogen, where as most are stimulating, and it's a warming herb. I started taking Ashwagandha every day in capsule form (can also be taken as a tincture or powder, but is bitter). I didn't notice anything right away. But I kept going with it and by the end of the second month, my physical and emotional health really started to shift.
Everything at work stayed the same and was every bit as stressful, but I didn’t have the same all-encompassing dread towards work anymore. I started sleeping through the night for the first time in a couple of years. My body twitches were happening less and I felt more robust.
My circumstances didn’t change, but I started to.
Interestingly enough, once I began to physically feel better, I started getting the mental clarity and confidence to begin making changes in my life.
I had a new care-free attitude at work and towards life in general and I started having creative ideas that I began pursuing for the first time.
What comes first, the chicken or the egg?
Did Ashwagandha positively affect my mental and emotional health so I was then able to shift my life in a new direction? Or, did it affect my physical health so that I was then able to think clearly and decide that I was going to change my life?
It's both! And that's why adaptogens are so miraculous.
Understanding how adaptogens affect our hypothalamus (an integral part of our emotional brain / limbic system), our stress response and the many physical ailments that arise from stress, AND through my lived experience using adaptogens, I can confidently say that adaptogens are like best friends rooting us on.
Ideal candidates for Ashwagandha may have:
- Insomnia / poor sleep
- Colder body temps
- Cloudy thinking
- General sense of nervousness
- Low libido
**Do not use this herb if you are pregnant, allergic to plants in the nightshade family, have excess iron levels or have hyperthyroidism.
There are 21 known adaptogenic plants - research and find the right one for you!
As always, do your own research to see if Ashwagandha or another adaptogen would be a good fit for your life circumstance and body constitution. Check with your health care professional or herbalist!
Reach out with any questions, Veronica