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Hormone pills like melatonin may help to “knock us out”. But a gently supporting and balancing herb may actually be more powerful. Why? Instead of increasing the sleep hormone, it helps to reduce the hormone that wakes us up: cortisol. Learn more about how to use the adaptogenic herb ashwagandha.
We live in a time when adrenal glands are stressed and insomnia is common. Since the body can’t thrive without sleep, many reach for over-the-counter drugs. But sleep aid medicines have side effects.
Is there a better way? I have discussed in the past three choices that helped my insomnia. Success was hard-won, after much research and years of sleepless nights.
The remedies that have brought me peaceful sleep don’t work for everyone. Another herbal approach is ashwagandha.
Let’s discuss ashwagandha’s properties and the potential benefits it may produce when used on its own.
Because it’s an adaptogen, ashwagandha (find it here) balances the body. Ashwagandha can slowly rebuild the adrenals and thyroid, hormone-producing organs that so many Americans find deficient.
If taken in the morning this herb can calm and relax, easing anxiety. If taken in the evening, many report amazing breakthroughs with long, restful nights of sleep.
Used for centuries in India, this herb has also been used to treat chronic pain (including rheumatoid arthritis), tumors, skin diseases, and male virility. It is known to protect brain cells from decay as well as balancing blood sugar levels and high blood pressure.
In Sanskrit, the name ashwagandha means literally “smell of horse”. Indeed, it is the strength of a horse that ashwagandha is purported to give.
This yellow root also has anti-microbial and anti-oxidant effects.
Ashwagandha works against insomnia by reducing cortisol in the body.
Cortisol is the hormone that should peak when we wake each morning. For some who suffer from insomnia, cortisol peaks in the middle of the night.
Like other adaptogens, ashwagandha naturally, but chemically, blocks stress receptors. GABA receptors are signaled instead by the herb’s properties, promoting a relaxed mind.
If you’ve tried other sleep aids, or ways to reduce anxiety, but haven’t yet tried ashwagandha, it may be worth trying.
Some sources recommend taking 300 mg before bed, to prevent insomnia. With this brand, wherein the whole root is ground up, 800 mg, or 2 pills, can be taken before bed, depending on the individual.
Please consult your healthcare provider for dosage and before taking this or any other remedy.
One surprising and noteworthy fact about the herb? Ashwagandha is in the nightshade family. If you have an inflammatory response from other nightshades (such as peppers, tomatoes and potatoes), ashwagandha may not be the best choice for you.
What about you? Have you used ashwagandha successfully? I’d love to hear your story with this ancient herbal remedy.