Between your job, your family and your everyday responsibilities, stress is inevitable. Left unchecked, it can make you feel like you’re about to burst into flames. This is because your body responds to stress by going into “flight or fight” mode, an ancient threat response that preps your body for sudden action—good when a lion is chasing you but not so great in real life, when it can cause unpleasant physical symptoms like headaches, muscle tension, fatigue, stomach upset, mood disturbances and disruptions in sleep. Over the long term, it can have a serious impact on your health.1
Luckily, there are things you can do to help your body cope: exercise, meditation, regular sleep, counseling, workload management—and supplements, one of them being Ashwagandha.
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha, or Withania somnifera, is a root that’s been used in Ayurvedic and indigenous medicine for over 3,000 years to promote physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. It has the ability to function as an adaptogen, a compound known to help the body regulate stress. Think of it as a good friend who can recognize when you’re feeling tense and help you cope.
How does ashwagandha work?
When you perceive a threat—whether it’s physical or mental—your body responds by releasing cortisol, the main stress hormone. This increases glucose in the bloodstream, bumping up your energy supplies so you can react quickly to protect yourself. In the short term, this isn’t a problem, but when you experience stress day after day, this reaction stays turned on, leading to an overproduction of cortisol, which can cause exhaustion and, in the long term, increase health risks.2 Think of this cascading effect like drinking cup after cup of coffee: It keeps you alert for a bit, but eventually you hit a wall and can no longer function properly. The body’s stress response is similar; you can only do so much before it’s too much to handle!
Supplementing with Ashwagandha can help your body respond better to stress by prolonging the natural processes that stave off exhaustion—giving you a little more time to resolve the thing that’s stressing you. Think of it like the nozzle on a kettle that releases steam to prevent it from overboiling. Well, in this instance Ashwagandha helps prevent you from overboiling!
Choosing your ashwagandha supplement
Remember: Not all supplements are created equal. If you do choose to go with ashwagandha, look for a brand that offers bioavailable nutrients—meaning they’re ready for your body to use immediately—and FDA-cGMP compliance. This is a certification that means the maker follows best practices at every stage of production.
Ashwagandha is best taken at night but can actually be taken at any time of day, since it’s not considered a sedative.
Hayley is a Licensed Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Florida State University and a Master of Science in Dietetics from the University of Rhode Island. Hayley is dedicated to empowering individuals to achieve their nutritional goals through evidence-based practices.
Interested in supplements, but not sure where to start? Reach out to one of our experts, or take our free nutrition assessment, to learn exactly what nutrients would work best for your diet and lifestyle.