Amazing Ashwagandha Elevates and Calms

Amazing Ashwagandha Elevates and Calms

In an earlier post, I wrote about a fascinating family of plants known as the nightshades. One thing that particularly intrigues me about biology is how a plant can contain compounds that at one dose can heal and elevate you, and at another dose, can harm and enervate (even kill you), and the nightshades are a perfect example of this. Another fascinating member of the nightshades is ashwagandha, withania somnifera, a small, shrub-like plant closely related to the tomatoe. The plant is native to central Asia, thriving in the semitropical regions. This unassuming plant with green flowers and red fruit has a distinctive musky smell, from which it gets its name (ashwagandha means "the horses odor.") We do not eat the fruit, which like the other nightshades can be quite toxic to some, but the roots have amazing benefits.

Boost your energy level and lower your anxiety level at the same time!

Ashwagandha has been a prized medicinal plant for thousands of years in Ayurvedic tradition. It is commonly referred to as the Indian ginseng, for its ability to boost energy, vitality, and stamina, while at the same time balancing stress, reducing anxiety and improving disposition and mood. It is an extremely commonly utilized and highly valued. Like many of the nightshades, ashwagandha is highly adaptogenic, which means it has compounds that fight against environmental toxins and stresses to protect the plant. It is possible that the hardy nature of the nightshade family derives in part from these adaptogenic compounds, and that this is the source of this plant's vitality-enhancing properties. Combined with its ability to lower stress hormone cortisol levels, it is little wonder it is so well esteemed.

While 3000 years of traditional use offers us plenty of unscientific evidence, over the last century, ashwagandha has enjoyed plenty of scientific study (mostly in India) which is beginning to line up with the claims. The core compounds responsible for most of the benefits have recently received a lot of attention. One compound in particular, withanolides, is believed to be the source of many of the plant's positive characteristics. Like the active compound ginsenosides in ginseng, withanolides are steroidal, and highly anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory. (Even the roots of the two plants look quite alike.) A wide range of research on animals shows it has remarkable effects on inflammation in the body, on immune function, and even on cancer.

Ashwagandha has a whole slew of beneficial effects.

According to several meta-studies, ashwagandha properties include:

  • anti-oxidant,
  • anti-stress,
  • anti-depressant, mood elevating,
  • anti-anxiety / calming,
  • anti-inflammatory,
  • anti-bacterial,
  • anti-cancer,
  • neuro-protective,
  • cardiovascular-protective,
  • joint-protective,
  • immune enhancing,
  • adrenal supportive.


Ashwagandha has some important synergistic qualities. It stimulates the activation of immune system cells like lymphocytes, and it effects hormone synthesis in the body, helping to balance levels so as to minimize spikes up or down. Its reputation as a health tonic comes from the adaptogenic boosting of vigor in concert with this balancing effect and the anti-anxiety effect. Experiments done on horses showed amazing results compared to other approaches, lowering distress by 50% and improving handling manageability.

Moreover, beyond its ability to reduce cortisol levels (stress hormone), it also increases memory and focus, calms the body, reduces blood pressure and heart rate, reduces neurological degeneration, and has demonstrated similar mood effects as valium, and anti-depressant effects as imipramine. One study even suggested benefits for people with obsessive compulsive disorders.

When we were developing our JUMPSTART energy supplement, we did our own series of tests on ashwagandha and found that it played an important role in not just combating fatigue, but also as a highly stress-protective component. It helps reduce the effects of adrenal stimulation on the body while it actually increases energy levels, so it really is a remarkably useful and valuable ingredient. When crafting a supplement, the way ingredients work in the whole is often more critical than their individual effects, and ashwagandha is an example of a highly synergistic plant. We believe that ashwagandha and rhodiola, the other key adaptogen in the complex, are at the heart of why JUMPSTART EX makes you feel so strong and robust, as well as why it does not have the jittery effect that most other stimulants do.

Related Posts: 
The Best Way to Take Energy Boosting CNS Stimulant Supplements
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Benefits of the Adaptogen Rhodiola as a Vitality Tonic
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References:

Duke JA. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985, 514-5.
Safayhi H, Mack T, Saieraj J, et al. Boswellic acids: Novel, specific, nonredox inhibitors of 5-lipoxygenase. J Pharmacol Exp Ther 1992;261.
Wagner H, Nörr H, Winterhoff H. Plant adaptogens. Phytomedicine 1994;1:63-76.
Bone K. Clinical Applications of Ayurvedic and Chinese Herbs. Queensland, Australia: Phytotherapy Press, 1996, 137-41.
Rege NN, Thatte UM, Dahanukar SA. Adaptogenic properties of six rasayana herbs used in Ayurvedic medicine. Phytother Res 1999;13:275-91 [review].
Bhattacharya S, Goel R, Kaur R, Ghosal S. Anti-stress activity of sitoindosides VII and VIII, new acylsterylglucosides from Withania somnifera.
14. Grandhi A, Mujumdar AM, Patwardhan B. A comparative pharmacological investigation of Ashwagandha and Ginseng. J Ethnopharmacol 1994;44:131-5.
Dhuley JN. Effect of ashwagandha on lipid peroxidation in stress-induced animals. J Ethnopharmacol1998;60:173-8.
Bhattacharya SK, Muruganandam AV. Adaptogenic activity of Withania somnifera: an experimental study using a rat model of chronic stress. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 2003;75:547-55.
Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, Anishetty S. A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian J Psychol Med 2012;34:255-62.



The opinions expressed in this article are of the author. Content and other information presented on the site are not meant to be medical advice or any substitute for professional advice, counseling, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard professional medical or mental health advice from your physician or other qualified health provider.

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