Commonly referred to as Indian ginseng, ashwagandha is a yellow-flowered herb that bears tiny red fruit and is related to the tomato family. In Ayurveda (a widely practiced system of natural healing that originated in India), it is considered to have powerful adaptogenic benefits.
“Adaptogens not only increase your body’s resistance to the negative effects of long-term stress, but also help relax and energize you while also being tonic, meaning they stimulate your immune system and increase your sense of peace,” explains Amanda Chantal Bacon, founder of Moon Juice, a holistic wellness company.
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Ashwagandha typically comes in capsule or powder form, and consuming it has been said to help the body better handle external stresses such as toxins in the environment (pollution, sun damage, smoking, etc.) and internal stresses such as anxiety and insomnia that can lead to a lack of energy and difficulty concentrating. “Adaptogenic herbs are the most important group of herbs to take now,” says Bacon. “They’ve been treasured in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for centuries for their ability to boost energy and resilience.”
So where can you find it? Look to health food stores like Whole Foods and online retailers such as gaiaherbs.com and vitaminshoppe.com, and because you can take it as a daily supplement, buying it in bulk is probably your best (and least expensive) option. For more restful sleep, try mixing the powder form into warm milk and honey before bed.
And if you want to get creative, you can also try ZenBunni Kathmandu Chai Bar ($3), which contains organic ashwagandha and tastes like a healthier, not-as-sweet version of a typical dark chocolate bar, but doesn’t give you a sugar crash afterward.