Ashwagandha - the ‘Ginseng’ of Ayurvedic Medicine

Ashwagandha - the ‘Ginseng’ of Ayurvedic Medicine

Ashwagandha, otherwise known as 'Indian Ginseng', has been used in Ayurvedic Medicine for over 3,000 years. Today, practitioners still use ashwagandha root as part of India’s traditional healthcare system. Health benefits of organic ashwagandha can include improving energy levels, treating stress and helping to induce restful sleep.

What is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is a small shrub-like plant with yellow flowers. Native to India, it grows in dry, sub-tropical regions like Rajasthan and Punjab. The leaves contain antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties and have traditionally been used in Ayurvedic medicine. However, it is the root of the Ashwagandha plant that is thought to be the most beneficial part.

It’s popularity in Ayurvedic and holistic medicine primarily due to its adaptogen properties. Whatever physical and mental state you find yourself in, the properties of the ashwagandha root adapts to help remedy it and restore your body to its most natural, balanced state.

In ancient Ayurvedic philosophy, Ashwagandha is said to increase circulation of ‘ojas’, loosely translated as 'life force energy', which is the vital subtle energy that food is converted to, fueling our body, mind and spirit.

Scientifically, research suggests that the high concentration of withanolides found in Ashwagandha root is what makes this plant so beneficial.

What are Withanolides?

Withanolides are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in certain types of plants. There are at least 300 types of withanolides but most research has been conducted around the medicinal benefits of Withanolide A and withanoside IV as it is believed that they have regenerative properties. These compounds are found in Ashwagandha Root.

It is the presence of these regenerative compounds that are thought to result in increased brain function, memory and energy. Research also suggest that it may significantly boost fertility in men.

How can I take ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha powder can be taken in a few forms. Today, it is most commonly taken as a powder in drinks or in a capsule or tablet.

It is considered to be a safe supplement for most people to take and doses can be suggested anywhere between 2 and 6 grams of powder per day or 2 - 4 capsules. Importantly, as was with any medicinal remedy, you should always consult your doctor before taking ashwagandha, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or being treated for a medical condition. Also, people with autoimmune diseases should avoid ashwagandha unless advised by a doctor. Conditions like lupus, Hashimoto's thyroiditis and Type 1 diabetes can be affected by Ashwagandha as it can change hormone, blood sugar and blood pressure levels.

What does it taste like?

Perhaps, first I should tell you what "Ashwagandha" means in Sanskrit!? - it roughly translates into English as "smell of the horse," - which hopefully refers to its ability to increase strength and vitality rather than its smell...

In any case, you probably aren’t surprised to learn that it doesn’t taste great! It is bitter, but recently dieticians have suggested that bitterness holds an important place in our nutritional diets, despite most popular foods favouring salty and sugary flavors. And the beauty of Ashwagandha being taken in powdered form is that it can be easily masked by strong flavours like dark chocolate/cacao coffee and fruit. Ashwagandha also makes for an indulgent treat when mixed with nut butter recipes. Just remember that bitter tastes can really be complemented by sweet and salty flavours! If you want to discover more ways to eat and drink it, be sure to look out for some recipes for Ashwagandha in our recipes section.

However, if you're still not convinced by the somewhat unique flavour of ashwagandha, then organic ashwagandha capsules or tablets are a great alternative - perfect for if you’re on the go or not a culinary crafter!

Where can I buy Ashwagandha Powder?

Ashwagandha Root Powder is available to buy in both capsule and powder form from our UK superfood store. You can also buy this and other organic health foods from our UK Amazon storefront. Click here or enter 'TheHealthyTree Company' into the Amazon search bar across any European marketplace.

As with all of our products, our ashwagandha powder is certified by the Soil Association.

Organic Ashwagandha Recipes

Adaptogenic Hazelnut Latté

This piping hot drink is so deliciously hip, we’re surprised Starbucks hasn’t caught on. You may not be able to buy it on the go but it’s still only a few minutes away from enjoyment. Gently warm nut milk (such as almond or cashew) in a saucepan; add it to a blender with hot coffee; drop in a spoonful of hazelnut butter, a dash of maple syrup and a teaspoon of your preferred adaptogen (we like ashwagandha and maca); add cacao powder, sugar or sweetener to taste and blitz until foamy.

Ashwagandha Nut Butter Balls

This recipe uses an entire jar of nut butter—meaning no matter what you do, it’s going to be tasty. Start with almond butter (any kind); massage it with dried cranberries, cacao nibs, chia seeds, honey, ashwagandha and cinnamon; divide into ping pong-size balls; roll in coconut flakes; refrigerate for an hour; then eat your well-balanced heart out.

Turmeric and Ashwagandha Malt

Turmeric and ashwagandha may not seem like the best ingredients to sweeten a cup of cocoa, but their adaptogenic properties make them the perfect way to start your day (as opposed to the sugar crash that can coincide with shop-bought cocoa). This morning pick-me-up is made with whole or nut milk, turmeric, ashwagandha, honey, and coconut oil, which combines for a comforting cup of healthy fats and mellowing herbs. We like using nut milk for weekdays and whole milk for a weekend treat.

Raw Adaptogen Fudge With Ashwagandha

Healthier fudge? Go on then! This recipe uses dates as a thickener and sweetener and coconut oil with nut butter to create a thick, rich, fudgy texture. Cacao powder, sea salt and vanilla extract provide the deep, chocolate flavor. Organic maca and ashwagandha are sprinkled throughout to add health benefits and a slightly nutty twist. Add to porridge, coffee, hot choc and smoothies.