ASHWAGANDHA - THE INDIAN ADAPTOGEN
Feature image courtesy - Australian School of Meditation and Yoga
Also known as Indian Wild Cherry or Indian Ginseng, Ashwagandha is a potent wellness staple and has been widely used in India since centuries. The name Ashwagandha is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Ashwa’ meaning horse and ‘gandha’ meaning scent with an Ayurvedic Scholar from the 100 B.C. quoting the following about Ashwagandha’s medicinal properties: ‘One obtains longevity, regains youth, gets a sharp memory and intellect and freedom from diseases, gets a lustrous complexion, and strength of a horse’
Ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub that is found in India, as well as in the Middle East and some parts of Africa. In traditional Indian medicine, it is known as a Rasayana, which means that it helps to lengthen the lifespan while modern medicine classifies it as an adaptogen, helping the body and mind to adapt to higher stress levels. In Ayurveda, Ashwagandha is also referred to as a Bhalya - an ingredient that increases strength, and Vajikara - that which promotes healthy sexual function.
Every part of the Ashwagandha shrub is extremely useful, but it’s churna - a powder commonly consumed in India with milk, ghee or honey - is perhaps the most potent of them all and is prepared from the roots of the shrub. The churna is highly effective in alleviating leucoderma, insomnia and anxiety, among other ailments. The churna powder can also be made into a thick paste and when applied over the joints, helps to get relief from inflammation.
Ashwagandha leaves, on the other hand, can be consumed in the form of herbal tea and though bitter in taste, are rich in iron and help to provide relief from anemia and blood loss during menstruation. The flowers are an astringent, in addition to being a powerful depurative, diuretic and a potent aphrodisiac. The seeds are anthelmintic and when combined with astringent and rock salt, help to remove white spots from the cornea. Ashwagandharishta - a health tonic prepared from Ashwagandha seeds - is used to treat hysteria, anxiety and memory loss.
The power of the Ashwagandha shrub lies in its unique chemical structure. All plants possess an array of special compounds known as phytochemicals, which exist to perform specific tasks. When consumed, these phytochemicals can overlap with the ones that activate pathways in our bodies and can have a very meaningful effect on our bodies. The ashwagandha shrub carries a very large quantity of these phytochemicals, which makes it extremely beneficial to almost every part of our body and mind.
Needless to say, Ashwagandha works wonders for the skin and hair and also makes up the formulation of our Body Oil, along with a blend of natural oils, saffron and 24K gold. It possesses powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help to promote scalp health. It also helps to promote post-partum hair growth and provides strength to the hair. With its high antioxidant content, Ashwagandha is extremely beneficial for the skin as well and helps slow down the signs of aging. It also provides an even skin tone and stimulates soft, healthy skin.
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