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What is an Adaptogen? Health Benefits of Ashwagandha

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Adaptogens have been around for a long time, but they've been creating a lot of buzz in the world of health and wellness—and for good reason.

Adaptogens are a type of natural plant-based compounds found in certain herbs and roots. These plant-based compounds are believed to support the body in facing certain physical and mental demands.

Examples of herbs that contain adaptogen compounds include rhodiola rosea (golden root), ginseng (Asian or American), holy basil (tulsi), maca root, reishi mushroom extract, chaga mushroom extract, cordyceps, and ashwagandha.

Ashwagandha is one of the more well-known adaptogens, but let’s look at the history of adaptogens and where to find them first.

 

What is an Adaptogen?

Adaptogens are a family of nontoxic herbal plants that have been popping up as powders, beverages, and supplements everywhere.

You can also find them in smoothie bars and in consumable fitness products to support positive health benefits. 

While adaptogens have had a monumental uptick in popularity and may seem like a recent addition to the wellness world, they actually have been around for thousands of years.

This family of herbs and roots has long been used in traditional Ayurvedic herbal remedies and traditional Chinese medicine for over a thousand years, but the term “adaptogens” is recent; it was coined by scientists in the 1940s.

Adaptogens have since been studied for their possible health benefits— ashwagandha being one of the most popular. Let’s take a look at what it’s being studied for.

 

Ashwagandha, an effective adaptogen.

What is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is an ancient Ayurvedic herb that has been used for centuries in India as a health tonic that was believed to have many benefits. It was historically used for a variety of purposes, from calming the body and mind to helping improve cognitive function.*

The history of Ashwagandha is dated back to the period of 6th century BC in India. It is known by many names such as “Indian Ginseng”, “Winter Cherry”, and Amukkara in Indian medicine systems such as Ayurveda.

A health benefit of Ashwagandha could include helping you to feel calmer during times of stress by promoting healthy levels of cortisol, which is the hormone responsible for creating a “fight or flight” response in reaction to environmental stressors.* 

This is why this herb may promote a calming effect on the nervous system and is believed to be beneficial for people who often feel overwhelmed.*

Ashwagandha can also support restful sleep at night, allowing your body the opportunity to recharge for the following day. Adding ashwagandha to your daily routine is a great way to support both a less reactive stress response and restorative rest.*

 

Ashwagandha Supplement

What is KSM-66 Ashwagandha® Extract? 

There are multiple types of Ashwagandha extracts, including Sensoril and KSM-66 Ashwagandha®.

While the Sensoril form is taken from the leaves and roots, KSM-66 Ashwagandha is extracted solely from the roots, where many of the plant’s benefits are believed to come from. KSM-66 Ashwagandha® has the most rigorous set of clinical trials out of the extracts taken from this plant.

 
Ashwagandha in a capsule form.

When Should I Take Ashwagandha? 

Ashwagandha and KSM-66 Ashwagandha® can be beneficial adaptogen supplements that are a valuable addition to your healthcare routine. By taking ashwagandha, you may be able to promote better sleep quality and a more even-keel stress response.*

The best time to take ashwagandha depends on the reason for taking it. While taking ashwagandha is fine any time of day, generally, it is recommended to take ashwagandha in the morning or early afternoon. This allows you to experience its potential benefits throughout the day.

It can lead to mild digestive discomfort if not taken with food, so if you’re sensitive to stomach issues, keep that in mind. If taking it in the morning, take it with your other daily supplements at breakfast. 

However, if you’re using ashwagandha to promote better sleep quality, then it may be more beneficial to take it closer to bedtime.

Ashwagandha should always be taken under the supervision of a qualified healthcare practitioner as there are potential side effects and interactions with other medications. 

Consult with your healthcare provider before taking ashwagandha if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking any prescription medications. They can help you determine the right dosage for your unique needs, as well as let you know of any potential side effects or interactions you should be aware of.