If you are interested in the use of herbs to improve your health then you may have come across ashwagandha. It is not one of the most common herbs, but it is becoming more widely known as more and more people are becoming more adventurous with adding powders to their smoothies and food for detoxing.
Like many other herbs, ashwagandha, also known as Indian Ginseng, has been around for centuries and is widely used in Ayurvedic Medicine for a large range of conditions and ailments.
It can help with many diverse conditions from lowering cholesterol and blood sugar, to stress and depression. The following includes 5 of the top health benefits of using this herb for detoxing. Try out the herb for yourself to discover the many health benefits you get from using it.
1. It Helps To Protect and Detox The Liver
In animal studies ashwagandha significantly increased bile acids. An increase in secretion of bile acids produces an increase in bile flow. It’s through the bile that the liver eliminates or detoxifies toxic chemicals.
Ashwagandha is high in antioxidants so can help combat free radicals in the liver that are produced as a normal effect of liver detoxification.
It can help fatty liver and lower high cholesterol and triglyceride levels. If you have high levels of LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) it can lead to a lot of negative effects, including increasing your risk for heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.
Reducing the amount of fat in the liver will improve the liver’s detox function.
2. Reduce Stress And Anxiety Toxin Overload
Ashwagandha is also a relaxing and soothing herb, which is going to have a positive effect on your anxiety or stress. It is classified as an adaptogen and can significantly lower the stress hormone cortisol. It modulates the release of stress hormones from the adrenal glands. Stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline overload the liver and can interfere with its detox function.
It not only helps relax you, but might even help to alleviate depression. It can actually give you a nice natural mood boost. Who doesn’t want to feel happier and more content? This is one of a few different herbs that can actually make you feel happier and help manage mood swings.
Related reading: Healthy Anti-Stress Green Smoothies
3. Balances Thyroid Hormones
Adequate thyroid hormone function is needed for good liver detoxification function and to prevent fatty liver. Ashwagandha has been shown to improve thyroxine levels in people with under-active thyroid (hypothyroid).
The herb has also been shown to support a sluggish thyroid for people diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, a condition where the immune system attacks the thyroid.
4. It Helps to Reduce Your Cancer Risk
One reason for detoxing is to help prevent cancer. Toxic chemicals damage DNA, cells and organs which can result in cancer. A British Government White Paper concluded that across 4000 common compounds used in-home, two thirds were toxic, and one third were probably carcinogenic
Ashwagandha has natural anti-cancer properties and is one of the healing herbs that can help reduce your cancer risk. It’s anti-cancer properties help in the killing of cancer cells that are already in your body. It has also been shown in several studies to reduce the growth of new cancer cells, which either helps lower your risk, or may keep your cancer from becoming too advanced. But don’t rely on it. It’s just one of the things you can take.
5. Ashwagandha Improves Blood Sugar Levels
If you have high blood sugar levels whether from diabetes, pre-diabetes, or another medical condition, you are already aware of how dangerous this can be for you. Raised glucose levels increases your risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease which in turn will interfere with the liver’s detox function.
Related reading: Will a Liver Cleansing Diet Help Correct a Fatty Liver?
It is essential that you do everything you can to lower your blood sugar levels, but also in the healthiest way possible. When you want to lower these blood sugar levels with a more natural and alternative option, herbs like ashwagandha are a great option for you.
There have been multiple studies looking at how herbs like ashwagandha can actually lower your blood sugar levels naturally. This is both for people with and without diabetes, so even if you are relatively healthy, you can still reap the blood sugar benefits of ashwagandha.
A stable blood sugar is needed for the cells to get a steady supply of glucose to provide energy for their detox function.
Note: If you have diabetes or pre-diabetes you should not rely only on this herb to lower your blood sugar. It’s best to speak with your doctor if you are already taking a drug or insulin or consult a herbalist or naturopathic doctor
How to Use Ashwagandha for Detoxing
If you are not familiar with using natural herbs, then your question now might be – okay, but what do I do with it? In traditional Ayurvedic medicine both the roots and leaves of the plant are used. It’s is traditionally taken as a fine powder mixed in honey, ghee or milk.
In the Western world the root is more often used for powders, tinctures, capsules and tablets. It has a rather bitter taste but if you are going to use it in its powdered form you can disguise the taste in detox smoothies, breakfast detox smoothie bowls, uplifting lattés or energy snack balls.
Here are some recipes for you to try.
Ashwagandha Detox Smoothie
A smoothie is a great way to enjoy the benefits of Ashwagandha. Simply add a teaspoon of powder to your smoothie.
1/2 cup wild blueberries
1/2 cup greens (spinach, dandelion, kale, chard)
1 tbsp almond butter
1 cup coconut milk or nut milk
1 tsp ashwagandha powder
Put all the ingredients into your blender and blend until very smooth. Enjoy!
Ashwagandha Almond Butter Balls
1 jar (16oz) almond butter
1/2 cup dried goji berries
1/2 cup sugar free and dairy free dark chocolate chips or cocoa nibs
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup raw honey or organic agave syrup
1/4 cup ashwagandha powder
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon powder
Desiccated (very finely shredded) coconut, enough for coating
Mix all ingredients together in a food processor until it reaches the consistency of cookie dough. Divide the dough up into bite sized pieces and form into balls. Roll the balls in desiccated coconut until fully coated. Place in the refrigerator for about an hour to solidify. They freeze well so you could make a large batch and have them ready for snacking.
Relaxing Almond & Ashwagandha Evening Tonic
When you’ve had a busy day this adrenal balancing tonic can help you relax and unwind and soothe your mind.
8 ounces unsweetened almond or cashew milk
1 teaspoon 100% pure maple syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
¼ teaspoon nutmeg, grated
½ teaspoon ashwagandha powder
Pinch of Himalayan salt
Put your chosen milk, maple syrup, vanilla powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ashwagandha powder into to a small saucepan and stir well to mix. Gently heat the mixture but remove from heat just before it comes to the boil. Whisk or stir briskly again. Pour into your serving mug. Allow to cook and sip slowly. Enjoy!
Ashwagandha a member of the nightshade family so if you are sensitive to these foods or are excluding them for arthritis then you should not use it.
The word Ashwagandha actually means “smell of horse” because the fresh roots of the herb are said to smell like a horse and it’s believed that when you consume the herb, you may develop the strength and vitality of a horse. Ashwagandha has been used in India for centuries as a broad-spectrum remedy but scientists have now proven that is possesses anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that play a major role in its benefits. Will you give it a try or have you tried it already for detoxing? Why not share your experiences with my readers in the comments below?