The Botanical name for this herb is Withania somnifera. It is a small shrub that grows in dry, hot areas such as North Africa and the Middle East but is especially grown in India where it is considered one of the most important Ayurvedic herbs. The importance of the herb is due to it being used traditionally for thousands of years to instil the vitality of a horse!
Ashwaganda is used in India similar to the way Ginseng is used in Asia, its properties are similar. However Ashwaganda tends to be more nourishing and milder compared to the stimulating effects of Ginseng.
In regards to using Ashwaganda in depression, it is a herb which is commonly used as a tonic for the nervous system to help alleviate anxiety, depression and nervousness and bring about feelings of wellbeing.
THERAPEUTIC ACTIONS OF ASHAGANDA (WITHANIA)
- Adaptogen (kidney tonic) to increase stress resistance due to its effect on reducing Cortisol (stress hormone) production in the adrenals in response to stressors.
- Supports the emotional aspects of nervous system exhaustion (panic attacks, low sense of wellbeing, nervousness, depression, anxiety)
- Exhibits mild sedative qualities
- Warming and tonifying
- Immune enhancer
- Antianxiolytic, adaptogen, antistress, antidepressant
- Liver protective
- Mild sedative
Withania is a very safe herb to take on its own with no adverse side effects. Some herbs which blend well, to reduce nervous system tension and ease depression are Oats, Passionflower, Siberian Ginseng, Licorice, Astragalus, Sacred Basil, Magnolia, Skullcap and St Johns Wort.
RECIPE FOR TRADITIONAL AYURVEDIC ASHWAGANDA TEA
- 1 heaped teaspoon of cut Withania root
- 1 1/2 cups of milk (you can try plant milks as well)
- 1 teaspoon of honey
- pinch of black pepper
- top with a sprinkle of cinnamon
Bring the mixture to almost boiling and then stir while simmering for several minutes. Take off heat, strain and enjoy!