Ashwagandha: The king of Ayurvedic medicine
Updated: Oct 6, 2020
I first discovered ashwagandha when I took up a translation project on its history and its health benefits. Its exotic name caught my attention and I soon started getting more and more interested in finding out more about the so-called king of Ayurvedic medicine.
Ashwagandha is an ancient medicinal herb originally used in traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine. Its botanical name is Withania somnifera but it is also known as Indian ginseng and winter cherry. It can be roughly translated as the smell and strength of the horse - its name perfectly illustrates both its unique smell and ability to increase physical strength.
According to Ayurvedic medicine, it is a Rasayana, i.e. a tonic that plays an important role in maintaining one’s mental and physical youth. It is usually used in the form of a fine sieved powder that can be mixed with water or honey.
As in the case of most alternative therapies and herbs, the use of ashwagandha was not common until recently. However, the rise of alternative therapies in the Western world, along with the interest of many people in potent herbs that could improve their health, made its use more prevalent. Nowadays, there is growing body of scientific literature backing up many of its health benefits.
Here are some key facts about this wonder herb:
It plays a role in reducing blood sugar levels
It boosts our immunity – really useful in times of COVID-19
It helps combat anxiety and stress
It's soothing effect makes it ideal for people with sleeping disorders
It has anti-inflammatory properties
It increases stamina and energy levels
It enhances brain function
It is an adaptogen, which means that it it counteracts effects of stress on our body and promotes its balance
How can I take ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is available in many forms. A lot of companies offering natural products or nutritional supplements have started producing ashwagandha tablets or ashwagandha powder in amounts which meet our daily requirements.
Ashwagandha is safe for most people to consume, but it may interact with medication taken for other conditions, such as thyroid or high blood pressure. Pregnant and breastfeeding women as well as people with autoimmune disorders may need to avoid ashwagandha. In any case, all individuals are encouraged to consult a doctor before adding nutritional supplements to their daily nutrition plan as side-effects may occur.
Moving on to the real experience
After having read and heard so much about this fine magical powder, it was high time I tried it myself. I decided to make moon milk, a beverage whose main ingredient is ashwagandha.
I got the recipe from one of my former colleagues, who is a huge fan of Indian Ayurvedic medicine. After several phonecalls, the secret recipe was revealed.
All you have to do is combine the ingredients mentioned below over medium heat and whisk until blended. Then, wait for five minutes and your moon milk is ready!
1 1/2 cup almond milk
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 ground cinammon
ground nutmeg (a pinch)
1/4 teaspoon ashwagandha
ground pepper (a pinch)
add some sugar*
* For a more Americanised version of moon milk, use 2 teaspoons of Maple syrup instead of sugar.
Moon milk: First impressions
It looks as dreamy as it sounds. As far as the taste is concerned, I certainly had high expectations and so did my taste buds. But we were both rather let down. Ashwagandha powder has a really bitter and pungent taste, which was definitely not what I expected.
The good news is that the bitterness can be masked with another ingredient. Well, that's definitely not the original version of the drink but there is no accounting for taste.
If you want to find out more about my ashwagandha drink, all you have to do is check my Instagram account. Enjoy and stay healthy!