Not many of us go for too much time in our busy lives that we don’t feel stress of some sort. There are so many ways to describe stress that I won’t attempt to do so in this article. I was working with a young lady not too long ago whose family has been through some very difficult and stressful times. I felt strongly to recommend she use the herb ashwagandha.

Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that can aid the body in resisting stress, relieve fatigue, nervous tension and anxiety and aid in cognitive function and memory support. She was asking for something that would do all of these things.

Aashwagandha has been used to improve thinking ability, to help with inflammation, and to prevent the effects of aging. It is also used for fertility problems in men and women.

Many studies have been done on this herb for many different types of conditions. It has been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells, decrease or stop the growth of tumors and help increase ones immunity during chemotherapy treatment.

In Sanskrit Ashwagandha means “the smell of a horse,” and is a combination of the word ashva, meaning horse, and gandha, meaning smell indicating that the herb imparts the vigor and strength of a stallion. It has traditionally been prescribed to help people strengthen their immune system after an illness.

Belonging to the same family as the tomato, Ashwagandha is a plump shrub with oval leaves and yellow flowers. It bears red fruit about the size of a raisin. The herb is native to the dry regions of India, northern Africa, the Middle East and today is also grown in more mild climates, including the United States.

The root of the plant is used medicinally and has been an important herb in ayurvedic medicine for over 2000 years. It is often referred to as Indian ginseng because it has very similar qualities as ginseng does in traditional Chinese medicine. It benefits the neurological, immune, reproductive, endocrinal and energy production systems of the body. It is very beneficial in balancing the thyroid and adrenal glands.

Contributed by Jo Francks, a Master Herbalist graduate of The School of Natural Healing.