Life is a race, it seems. When I was in my early twenties, it was all about who could finish their degree first, then it shifted into "who can get a decent job" first. Especially as a woman, another layer to the race is added, as, now that I am inching closer to 30, it doesn't seem to matter anymore what I've achieved academically or in my career, as my social media feeds are flooded with wedding pictures, baby bumps and little children. Time seems to be measured in how young women were when they delivered their first, or how many they had by the age of 30. Life, as it seems, is not only a race, but an endless competition.
Amidst this pressure many people, including me, face every day and a generation that seems to battle depression on an everyday basis, hooked on anti-depressants or other medication, it is worth considering how we can apply more natural ways to nurture and support our bodies for a more holistic and healthy approach. Yoga, for instance, has helped me considerably to calm my nerves, and meditation, even though I still struggle with it, has improved my general breathing techniques and ability to calm myself down in hectic situations.
However, sometimes we all wish for a single thing to make everything better, don't we? Wouldn't it be great if there was a magical potion that would make our muscles stronger, our brains better-working, reduce our stress levels and help the body maintain this new balance? Oh...wait, there is actually such a thing and it bears the magical name of "Ashwagandha".
But let's recap from the start. I recently read the article "Ashwagandha: Reduce Stress for Better Performance", originally published on HVMN, which gives a minute and detailed insight into the broad range this magical plant boasts, going from scientific studies that show the plant can reduce stress levels, to outlining all the health benefits you get to enjoy from it. Although maybe coined as a new "trend" plant by some, the knowledge of its healing powers dates back hundreds of years, and it's been used in Ayurveda practice as a supplement to improve mental and physical health for ages.
So what actually hides behind this alluring cluster of sounds? Despite the plant's unique smell (its name actually translates to "smell of the horse") that reminisces of the countryside and manure rather than major healing powers, the uses of Ashwagandha have been researched and studied extensively and the results indicate that this plant is the real superman among the plants.
I will not share all the incredible facts the original article includes, but if you want to read it all in the nitty-gritty details, click on the article name above or here to be redirected to their page. There is, however, one major aspect of the Ashwagandha plant, or Withania somnifera - if you prefer the fancy Latin denotation - which has specifically spoken to me. As stress is an all-too-familiar constant in my life, I was intrigued to read about its effect on the stress hormone cortisol, which can be, simply put, one major culprit for permanent high stress levels. Constant pain of clenched shoulders that lead to neck, shoulder and back ache are often caused by high stress levels, and Ashwagandha, according to the article, can actively help reduce these stress levels - and even help "to improve your ability to adapt to stress by normalizing the body's physiological responses" (as qtd. from the article). So, you may think now that's already a lot one single plant can do...
...but there is, of course, more. This super-plant is not only a fantastic way to get you into a healthier mental state, but studies have shown that Ashwagandha can also benefit muscle building and increase your body strength, for example the muscles that keep up your spine. Most back ache comes from a poorly supported spine that is caused by bad posture and a static lifestyle. Regular Yoga practice can, of course, help alleviate these aches, but who wouldn't want a little extra boost on the side, too. According to a study quoted in the original article, participants who took supplements could increase muscle strength already after one month - and that is without doing any exercise! Almost seems too good to be true, right?
Well, the only way to really test the plant's powers is by simply trying it out for yourself. You can find Ashwagandha tea in most tea shops already, or head to your pharmacy and get supplement tablets for a more concentrated intake. Ashwagandha supplements are also available for purchase on amazon.com, for example, such as the root powder extract. After reading the article, I decided to go for the simpler option and buy a lovely Ashwagandha tea, like the Be Resilient Tea Tonix (also available on Amazon). I'll keep you updated on the magical powers in future posts ... oh, and did I mention it also is supposed to enhance male fertility, reduce cholesterol and help with memory loss? Maybe it's true and the solution to all problems lies in a really good cup of tea...
The information taken about the Ashwagandha plant was kindly issued by HVMN and their posted article Ashwagandha: Reduce Stress For Better Performance.
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