Ashwagandha, also known as Withania Somnifera or ‘Indian ginseng’, is one of a select group of ‘superfoods’ that also includes acai, goji berries, spirulina … And, like ginseng and rhodiola, it is also belongs to the group of “adaptogens”, plants that can help the body adapt to all kinds of stress: fatigue, anxiety, inflammation, insomnia …
The roots and leaves of ashwagandha are used in the millennia-old system of Indian medicine called Ayurveda. The plant is exceptionally rich in active compounds: alkaloids, steroidal lactones, sitoindosides and withalonides … compounds that give ashwagandha a wide range of properties. It’s used in the treatment and relief of many health issues (1), with roles that include, but are not restricted to, the following:
And it is actually this last area which we’re focusing on here as insomnia has become a major public health issue.
Pharmacological treatments for insomnia often encourage habituation or even dependency. The soporific effect of ashwagandha poses no such risk and thus offers significant hope to insomniacs.
Withania Somnifera, as its name suggests, has genuine soporific qualities, which have long been thought to originate from its roots. Yet scientists (2) have shown that the plant’s leaves contain triethylene glycol (TEG) and that it is this component which is actually responsible for its soporific effects. The effects of TEG alone have indeed been shown to have a sleep-inducing effect in mice, though human trials are needed before this compound can be considered as a potential treatment for insomnia.
Ashwagandha supplements thus offer an excellent way of benefiting from the properties of this plant!
Ashwagandha is available mainly in powder or capsule form. It’s best to choose a supplement that displays the total amount of withalonides it contains: products made from the whole plant extract should contain at least 1.5% withalonides.
In terms of the daily dose, a minimum of 6g of withanolides in total is recommended in order to produce real effects. Attention: ashwagandha is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding or for young children.
Ashwagandha has a genuine effect not only on insomnia but on many other health problems: its adaptogen qualities make it a valuable ally for everyday life.
Written : Avril 2019
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