As my friends and clients will tell you, I’m not really into supplements. I have nothing against them, but also don’t spend a lot of time and effort researching the latest and greatest fix-all vitamins. However, one has won me over…

Over the past few months, I’ve has a lot of big changes in my life that resulted in some real stress and some general, every day stress. I noticed that I would spend all day running around trying to do too many things, fall into bed exhausted at night, but then wake up feeling more tired than the previous night! After a few weeks of this, I was at wit’s end and decided to figure this out.

Turns out, if you’re stressed out and anxious all the time — even it’s low-grade stressors — by the time you go to sleep, your body is too exhausted to properly ‘recharge’ overnight. It’s like putting a rechargable battery into a charger that isn’t plugged in: it won’t do a lot of good.

Enter Ashwaganda (withania somnifera), an herb used commonly in Ayurvedic medicine.  It has many uses, but its most important (for me, anyway ) is its ability to calm and restore the nervous system. It fights fatigue but it isn’t a stimulant. In fact, I was surprised to learn that ashwaganda is recommended both upon rising and before bed. What?! Turns out, during the day, it gives you energy and builds the immune system. At night, it gives you enough energy to get high quality sleep so your body can renew itself.

Best of all, this isn’t one of those supplements that you have to take it for months before you notice any effects. In fact, I took my first dose around 9.30pm the first night. Unlike a sedative, which would have put me to sleep soon thereafter, I had enough energy to finish some work and clean up a bit. Around midnight, I went to bed as I normally do and fell into a deep sleep. I woke up around 7.30am the next morning feeling MUCH more rested that I had in weeks. I took my second dose that morning and felt energized; in fact, I skipped my morning green tea because I didn’t feel like I needed it. I didn’t experience a crash like one would after having caffeine or sugar.

A success!

Ashwaganda is also used to treat insomnia, anxiety, and stress. According to The Chopra Center, over 216 studies show that the other enefits of ashwaganda supplements include:

  • confers immune system protection
  • combats the effects of stress
  • improves learning, memory, and reaction time
  • reduces anxiety and depression without causing drowsiness
  • stabilizes blood sugar
  • lowers cholesterol
  • reduces brain-cell degeneration
  • contains anti-malarial properties
  • offers anti-inflammatory benefit

You can find ashwaganda most health food stores or buy online from Life Spa or The Chopra Center.

Note that women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should NOT take Ashwaganda. As always, check with your doctor before starting any supplements to see if it interferes with any medicines or other supplements you’re taking.