Brain-Boosting Ingredients Series – Ashwagandha
If we are what we eat, we’re made up of much more than the meal we cooked for dinner. It’s important to pay attention to your ingredients.
Here at BrainMD, we offer supplements with ingredients that improve brain health and the functioning of many of our other organs. In this blog series, we’re taking a closer look at our ingredients’ origins, uses, and recipes, so you can incorporate the best ones into your diet.
Ashwagandha is one ingredient we recommend, and it’s found in our supplement, Focus & Energy, which boosts mental focus, energy, and endurance without the jitters of a caffeine crash. It helps us cope with life’s everyday mental and physical challenges while promoting healthy memory and attention.
Ashwagandha & Ayurvedic Medicine
Ashwagandha has been used in an ancient style of medicine called Ayurveda. Originating in India, it’s both the world’s oldest medical system and still very much part of India’s traditional health care system. The holistic method behind this type of treatment is meant to blend mind, body, and environment for a completely balanced state of health and wellbeing. This plant is an adaptogen, meaning it helps the body adapt to stress.
The Ashwagandha plant is known scientifically as Withania somnifera and also as Indian ginseng and winter cherry. The word ashwagandha means “smell of the stallion” for the plant’s natural odor, while somnifera means “sleep-inducing.” The roots, leaves, and stems of the plant all have traditionally been used for health benefits, but root preparations have been most widely employed (and most intensively researched). The main active substances in the root are a variety of steroidal lactones (also called “withanolides”), alkaloids and saponins.
The body uses this adaptogenic herb in a number of ways to support its homeostasis and cope with existing challenges, most typically related to stress. Homeostasis is the collective of processes that the body uses to maintain a positive balance of all the conditions necessary for continued life. Other well studied adaptogenic herbs include Rhodiola, Asian (Panax) Ginseng, Holy Basil, Camellia sinensis (tea), Turmeric, Phellodendron, and Magnolia. Ashwagandha has such versatile benefits, it is sometimes called “Queen of Ayurveda”.
In actual human clinical trials, Ashwagandha root concentrates have shown protection against stress and lowered the stress hormone cortisol; reduced anxiety; improved memory, mental focus, fatigue, and sleep quality; lowered food cravings; improved antioxidant defenses; improved thyroid, circulatory, bone marrow, and joint function; speeded muscle recovery and strengthening; and promoted healthy sex drive. The roots and leaves can be used in teas and can be used in powder form for recipes.
Always consult with your doctor before introducing this ingredient to your diet, especially if you may be pregnant or take other medications for mental health.
Ashwagandha has a bitter taste and doesn’t always mix well with the food we eat. Dietitians have recently theorized that bitterness has an important place in our nutritional diets, despite most popular foods favoring salty and sugary flavors. The most common way of eating ashwagandha is in its powdered form.
When considering adding ashwagandha powder to your diet, learn about how bitter tastes are complemented by sweet and salty flavors. This will help you get creative for introducing this ingredient to your diet, but the best go-to pairing is with chocolate.
Chocolate Pudding & Ashwagandha
½ cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
1 heaping scoop Chocolate OMNI Protein Powder
3 tbsp (15g) Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 medium-size (100g) Ripe Banana, Frozen. Make it easier by peeling bananas and putting them in plastic bags in the freezer.
1 handful Spinach Good for some extra greens.
½ a teaspoon of ashwagandha powder*
Chocolate Shake & Ashwagandha
- 1 heaping scoop Chocolate OMNI Protein Powder
- ½ cup Frozen Raspberries
- ½ cup Frozen Strawberries
- 1 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
- ½ a teaspoon of ashwagandha powder*
Remember, you can also get a clinically proven daily dose of Ashwagandha root concentrate by taking our Focus & Energy supplement, which is in capsules with no bitter taste. This supplement is very popular and provides the additional adaptogens Green Tea Extract (high in EGCG, gently decaffeinated), standardized Rhodiola and Asian Ginseng, and the essential nutrient choline, to keep you mentally sharp all through the day.