Print Print Comment Comment Add to Favorites
Log in to save to My Yoga Journal!
Add to Favorites
Bookmark Bookmark

Ashwagandha Power

The newest fix for fatigue is this ancient herbal remedy from India.

By Miriam Hospodar

We know that yoga helps reduce stress and fatigue, yet how many times have we felt so washed out that even the thought of doing gentle stretches seems like too much effort? For this and similar energy-related predicaments, many people turn to ashwagandha, an ayurveda">Ayurvedic herb increasingly known as the "Indian ginseng." Ashwagandha, or "winter cherry," provides energy and a rejuvenating lift while at the same time offering a calming effect. The chemical components in ashwagandha are remarkably similar to those found in ginseng, and yet studies have demonstrated its superiority in stress-relieving abilities when compared to its Chinese cousin. Ayurvedic healers have long prescribed the herb to treat exhaustion caused by both physical and mental strain, and scientific research has recently borne out this practice. A double-blind study found that ashwagandha prevented stress-related ulcers and vitamin C deficiency, and increased energy and endurance when under stress.

The key to ashwagandha's benefit lies in its action as an adaptogen, or substance that helps the body become more flexible and capable of handling change. This applies especially to the muscles. As Suhas Kshirsagar, medical director of the Maharishi College of Ayurvedic Medicine in New Mexico, explains, "Ashwagandha strengthens and gives more flexibility to the heart muscles, for instance, and is also useful for treating uterine and menstrual conditions involving the muscles, such as menstrual cramps."

Indeed, the herb's adaptogenic effect has far-reaching implications. Ashwagandha enjoys the reputation in the West as an aphrodisiac, a use supported by a recent study in which more than 70 percent of men reported increased libido and sexual function after taking the herb.

Unlike ginseng, however, this marvelous herb comes with some caveats. It increases a heating quality in the head and heart called sadhaka pitta, which affects both body and emotions. Ayurvedic doctors therefore recommend formulas that combine ashwagandha with cooling herbs, such as licorice, for instance. Or take ashwagandha with cooling foods, such as ghee, raw sugar, milk, and rice. Kshirsagar recommends a daily dose of three to six grams of ashwagandha powder, for a maximum period of six months.

Related Articles

Print Print Comment Comment Add to Favorites
Log in to save to My Yoga Journal!
Add to Favorites
Bookmark Bookmark
Full Name
Address 1
Address 2
Zip Code:
Email (req):

Reader Comments


I read that you are not supposed to take this daily. You should either take it a 3-4 times a week or daily for three weeks and then take a break for a full week. This may be needed because of the tolerance issue that Jackie described in her comment.

Ivan, Montreal

Where can I find this herb?
Thank you


What part of the plant is to be consumed?

See All Comments »      Add a Comment »

Your Name:


Stay Connected with Us!

Yoga Journal Live events
ep14 YJ LIVE! Colorado
Estes Park, Colorado
Sep 14-21, 2014
florida YJ LIVE! Florida
Hollywood, FL
Nov 13-17, 2014

More Events

Join Yoga Journal's Benefits Plus
Liability insurance and benefits to support
teachers and studios.
Learn More
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 4 FREE GIFTS
Your subscription includes
Yoga for Neck & Shoulders • Yoga Remedies
Yoga for Headaches • Calm, Cool, Collected
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Yoga Journal
and my 4 FREE downloadable Yoga Booklets.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions