Ashwagandha is known as the miracle herb in Ayurveda and has been used in India for 6000 years. Ashwagandha literally means ‘horse’s smell’ in Sanskrit (Ashwa – horse and gandha -smell) and refers to not only its unique smell but horse-like attributes such as strength and virility as it was traditionally used to support the male reproductive system. Ashwagandha botanically known as Withania somnifer is also commonly known as Indian ginseng or Winter Cherry. The shrub ashwagandha belongs to the tomato family and has oval leaves with yellow flowers that produce red fruit. The dried leaves, flowers, and roots are used in ayurvedic medicine to reduce stress and anxiety, improve memory loss, insomnia, adrenal fatigue, improve thyroid function, act as an aphrodisiac, and improve memory. For the hair, Ashwagandha used to improve scalp circulation and stimulate hair follicles, reduce hair fall, prevent premature graying, and eliminate dandruff.
What makes Ashwagandha so unique?
Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb, meaning that it can help the body cope and manage stress. Ashwagandha strengthens the endocrine system by encouraging hormonal balance. Adaptogenic herbs act in this way by increasing the body’s resistance to physical, chemical, and biological stressors. Adaptogenic herbs, such as ashwagandha, work with the body to reduce cortisol levels, balance hormones, boost immunity, and manage stress in the body and the mind. Stress can inhibit hair growth and health, leading to brittle and slow growing hair. Ashwagandha has been found to reduce cortisol, the stress hormones by 30% and stress-related symptoms by 44% according to one study.
The benefits of Ashwagandha for hair
Ashwagandha possesses powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which both aid in scalp health. The antioxidants in ashwagandha root fight free radicals that cause premature graying and slow down age-related graying as seen in this study. Ashwagandha also contains amino acid tyrosine that stimulates the production of melanin and assists in maintaining hair color. Its anti-inflammatory properties have been useful in healing dandruff and other scalp ailments such as dermatitis and eczema. It is rich in iron and possesses hematopoietic properties, which in one study found that mice treated with ashwagandha had a significant increase in their red blood count and white blood count. It is a rich source of flavonoids and contains fatty acids, glucose, potassium, tannins, and nitrate, all of which are important in hair health.
How to Use
Before consuming any ayurvedic herbs, including ashwagandha, please speak with your medical provider.
Ashwagandha supplements 300-500mg can be taken with meals.
Soak the leaves and roots in water to make an herbal tea that can be consumed or used with deep conditioners.
Have you tried Ashwagandha powder in your regimen?