Clearing the clouds of stress that have a bad habit of hanging around…
Stress has a funny way of sneaking up on us. Maybe it’s been a crazy week, but you’re holding out hope that the one that follows will be calm. Or a family member is going through a rough patch, and you’re doing your best to help him/her through it. We all have our own storms to weather… world events, family life, work, obligations… and those storms can swiftly take their toll without us even realizing it. Suddenly, sleep seems fleeting, a cloud of exhaustion lingers, or other symptoms of chronic stress begin to slowly unveil themselves. Our lives are fast paced, more so than ever before and, if we’re not careful, stress can too easily eclipse the joy and excitement we should all be taking in living. So… what do we do? Just as chronic stress is caused by various factors compounding one another, making you feel as if you have no control, relief can come by intentionally taking some of that control back through diet, exercise and self-care. And sometimes our bodies need assistance in dealing with it all, which brings us to adaptogens. You may be familiar with these potent substances, but if you’re not, may I suggest you make 2017 the year you become an expert. These potent substances, ranging from herbs to mushrooms to roots, assist the body in regulating everything from hormone levels to blood sugar. Adaptogens can help you sleep, help you wake up, reduce stress and anxiety… they can even help your sex life. They help the body normalize and balance itself in the face of internal and external stressful events.
My favorite adaptogen? Ashwagandha. Fun to spell, fun to say and immensely helpful in clearing the clouds of stress that have a bad habit of hanging around. Today I’m discussing ashwagandha and its benefits. Read on to learn more, then scroll to the bottom for a soothing bedtime drink that will give you a dreamy night’s sleep.
What is it? Also known as Indian ginseng and poison gooseberry, ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a plant from the tomato family native to India, which has been a staple of Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb, meaning it assists the to body restore its balance, helping it respond to outside stressors such as toxins and environmental stress, as well as hormonal issues, anxiety and insomnia. Long prized for its ability to calm and promote restful sleep (somnifera translates to “inducing sleep” in Latin), it’s a common ingredient in over-the-counter sleep supplements and some medications, and has gained more recent recognition for its use as an adaptogen.
What are the benefits? Ashwagandha is a powerful adaptogen, assisting the body in regulating its response to both internal and external stressors such as anxiety and environmental toxins, while strengthening the immune system, regulating blood sugar, and toning the adrenals. Ashwagandha has the unique ability to both energize and invigorate, and promote relaxation and restful sleep — a one-two punch for those of us who have a difficult time getting up in the morning and falling asleep at night. It works with your body to regulate hormones, which in turn helps to regulate the thyroid, lowers cortisol levels, reduces stress and anxiety, and balances blood sugar levels. Ashwagandha has also been found to boost memory and cognition, and may even make you feel a little extra sexy (yes, both men and women).
How do I use it? Powdered ashwagandha is widely available and mixes easily into milks and smoothies, a helpful attribute depending on your personal taste, as many people find the flavor of ashwagandha a bit too woody and slightly bitter (at least my hand is raised). When mixed with spices it blends seamlessly, though, and lends a deep, unique note to anything it’s added to. Traditionally, ashwagandha should be consumed with a small amount of fat to aid in absorption; coconut oil, almond butter, and coconut butter are all great options. To reap the energizing rewards of ashwagandha, mix it into your morning oatmeal, yogurt or smoothie. On the flip side, try the recipe below for a relaxing, sleep-promoting potion that will have your head hitting the pillow in record time.
Evening Stress Relief Potion
8 oz nut milk of choice (almond, soy, macadamia, etc…)
1 tsp Sun Potion Ashwagandha
1-2 tsp spiced cardamom honey
1 tsp coconut oil
1 tsp loose chai
Pour the nut milk into a sauce pot, add the loose chai and stir. Heat on low, stirring occasionally, until hot and steaming but not boiling.
While the milk warms, place the ashwagandha, honey, and coconut oil in a mug. Place the tea strainer over the mug.
Once the milk is hot, slowly pour it through the strainer and into the mug. Remove the strainer and whisk milk mixture to combine and froth. Enjoy!
This information is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any disease or issue. Please seek your doctor’s advice for any questions regarding a specific condition and before beginning any exercise, diet or health-related regimen.