Herb Article
Ashwaganda

By Faith Goguen

Ashwaganda Ashwaganda, Withania somnifera

Family
Solanaceae

Parts Used
Root

Ashwaganda is native to India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and parts of Africa and has a rich history for its use as a rejuvenating tonic and adaptogen. It is often referred to as "Indian Ginseng" because it is used similarly to ginseng in Chinese medicine. Unlike most stimulating adaptogens, Ashwaganda is a calming adaptogen. It is often used for insomnia due to stress and overwork. In my experience, it is one of those special plants that does exactly what my body needs in the moment. I can put it in my morning tea to wake up, and I can also drink it at night to relax into sleep. Ashwaganda calms the nervous system and the endocrine system being especially supportive to the adrenal glands. It has been used to restore vitality in conditions of fatigue, weakness, old age, poor growth in children, and chronic disease. It is taken as a longevity tonic increasing energy and cognitive function. For anemia, it is given regularly for its ability to build red blood cells. Another of its well-known qualities is that it is a wonderful aphrodisiac. It is tonifying to the reproductive organs of both men and women, increasing desire and stamina! If you haven't yet gotten a chance to get to know this plant, I would highly recommend checking it out. There are several ways to prepare it below.

Preparations
Tincture: 30-40 drops
Decoction: 1 tsp of root simmered in 1 cup of water for 10-15 minutes
Powder: 1 tsp freshly powdered root mixed into water, milk, ghee, butter, or honey (In Ayurvedic medicine the powder is the most common and usually prepared in milk, ghee, or butter)

Recipe
Ashwaganda Chai

1 1/2 cups milk (I usually use coconut or almond milk)
1 tsp Ashwaganda Root
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ginger
1/4 tsp Fennel
1/4 tsp Licorice
2 Cardamom pods
Simmer herbs in milk for 15 minutes. Strain. Sweeten with honey or agave to taste.

Sources:
The Yoga of Herbs by by David Frawley and Dr. Vasant Lad
Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief by David Winston and Steven Maimes
Planetary Herbology by Michael Tierra
Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine by Andrew Chevallier