The Health Benefits of Ashwagandha: Adaptogenic Hero

The name Adaptogenic Hero roughly translates to ‘horse smell’ in sanskrit. Not the most appealing epithet, perhaps, but this unassuming shrub has plenty to recommend it.

The ashwagandha plant itself is small and short, with velvety leaves and bell flowers that contain orange fruits, similar in appearance to a tomato; the plant also goes by “Indian ginseng” and “Indian winter cherry”. So feel free to pick another name if you can’t get “horse smell” out of your mind.

Native to India, the Middle East, and North Africa, ashwagandha has been cultivated and used in ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years, and now grows all over the world. It can be purchased in almost any health food store or supplement aisle, usually among other “Adaptogenic Hero”.

What is an adaptogen?
To be considered adaptogenic, herbs have to meet three specific criteria:

Non-toxic to the body Reduce and regulate stress by helping the body adapt to it Benefit overall well-being

These qualifications were developed by Russian scientist N.V. Lazarez, who studied plants that help the body adjust to stress. Lazarez is best known for discovering other adaptogens, like Siberian ginseng, and teaching research scientist Israel Brekhman, who would build a 45 year career around studying adaptogenic plants.

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