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What is Ashwagandha and It's Effects on Stress?



Ingredient spotlight: Ashwagandha


Besides being one of the most fun words to say of all time, ashwagandha is a heavy hitter in our natural stress management supplements, Calm and Unwind. The Meryl Streep of the adaptogen world, ashwagandha has stood the test of time in both ancient medicinal systems of healing like Ayurveda and modern clinical studies at your favorite universities. Here's the 101 on ashwagandha and why it does a body and brain good.


What’s an Adaptogen?

Let’s start at the beginning (we heard it’s a very good place to start) and talk about this herbal classification. Adaptogens are a select group of botanicals that help provide stress support and bring the body back into balance. The use of adaptogens has been shown to promote resilience to stress, which in turn boosts immunity, reduces inflammation, and makes you a healthier you. 

The History of Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is an herb that has been used all over the world for a variety of medicinal purposes and is also known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry. The name, ashwagandha, comes from its smell, most notably that of a horse, which is ashwa in Hindi. It grows all over the world in places such as India, parts of Africa, and the Middle East. Ashwagandha is composed of a root and an orange-red fruit and is complemented by other herbs such as passion flower.


Ashwagandha is a vitally important herb in Ayurveda, the 3,000-year-old healthcare practice, which recognizes the body as a whole being with separate regions that can be tuned to improve health. No longer a regional practice, Ayurveda has been modernized and globalized and is sometimes referred to as “alternative medicine.”

The Chill-Inspiring Biology of Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha has many health benefits. In Ayurveda, it is recognized for its calming properties as well as sleep promotion, neuroprotective effects, an antidepressant effect, and muscle enhancement (Pratte et. al, 2014). However, I know some people want to hear about the science behind Ashwagandha (and why we use it!). Without further ado, let’s break down the science on why Ashwagandha is such a revered and effective herb.
Recent research revealed that ashwagandha retains anti-inflammatory, antitumor, anti-stress, antioxidant, immunomodulatory, and rejuvenating properties (Mishra et. al., 2000). An abundance of studies show, “…that Ashwagandha possesses antioxidant, antitumor, antistress, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, hematopoietic, antiaging, anxiolytic, antidepressive, and rejuvenating properties, and that it also influences various neurotransmitter receptors in the central nervous system (CNS).” Wow, that’s a busy little herb!


So, what’s making it work? Withanolides are the principal metabolites that are responsible for the therapeutic properties of ashwagandha. The phytochemicals, biologically active compounds in plants, in ashwagandha are thought to counteract the negative effects of stress by increasing levels of GABA signaling and preventing overstimulation of the brain, similar to the activity of L-Theanine (Singh et. al., 2011).


GABA is extraordinarily important when it comes to quelling and quieting negative stressors. It's referred to as the "major inhibitory transmitter in the brain," but you can think of it as your brain brakes. When GABA is increased, it tells your brain to chill-out and settles down the activity in your brain cells. Research suggests that GABA controls fear and anxiety in the body, essentially putting on the brakes so you don’t go 120 mph into a sturdy stress wall. Too little GABA can lead to anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders, so you can see why we want to increase GABA whenever we can (and we do!).

How R3SET Uses Ashwagandha

The Ashwagandha we use in R3SET products is the brand name Sensoril®, which is sourced from the mountains of Nepal. Derived from the leaves and root of the Withania somnifera plant, Sensoril® has the “highest level of bioactive ashwagandha on the market,” and is backed by 12 clinical studies and multiple international patents.


We use Ashwagandha in both our Calm and Unwind supplements to promote relaxation, calm, and ultimately aid in stress management. It also has wonderful anti-inflammatory effects, which supports immunity and increases healing in the body. When used in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise, this gold-star adaptogen can make stress management a lot more manageable. 

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