Rooted in Wellness: The Allure of Ashwagandha

Rooted in Wellness: The Allure of Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha - the alluring, altruistic, adaptogenic plant of the sun and moon. This powerhouse medicinal plant has a medicinal history as old as modern humanity -  revered for its ability to promote vitality, resilience, and overall well-being. We’ve been growing and harvesting our own ashwagandha for years, and find that, in addition to being an invaluable plant ally in the medicine cabinet, and  promoting deep emotional and energetic healing, it also makes for an interesting perennial herb=shrub in the landscape. 

In Sanskrit, ashwagandha literally  means “horse's smell” (ashwa-horse, gandha-smell), probably originating from the odor of its root. Personally, I love the musty earthy smell of ashwagandha. The smell of damp ashwagandha carries an erotic, exotic earth energy that activates the root chakra and brings a sense of groundedness but also taps into the wild heart - think wild Arabian stallions running free and powerful across the desert. 

ashwagandha plants in the morning sunlight

Growing Ashwagandha: From Seed to Harvest

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a member of the nightshade family and, just like other nightshades (tomatoes, peppers), ashwagandha thrives in warm climates with well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight. Some growing guides say that it can be hard to grow ashwagandha from seed, but that’s not been our experience. In fact, it seems to grow quite easily! We start our ashwagandha seeds about 8 weeks before last frost on a heating mat, they sprout within a week or so and are ready to transplant at the same time as the other nightshades.

We’ve published an entire guide to growing Ashwagandha here.

Grow your own: Ashwagandha plant seedlings on sale in our nursery!

Harvesting Ashwagandha Roots: Timing is Key

The true magic of ashwagandha lies in its roots, which are harvested for their potent medicinal properties. For optimal potency, it's recommended to harvest ashwagandha roots in the fall or even winter depending on where you live. 

Root medicine is best harvested under a waning moon, as the plant’s energy is drawn back into the roots.he plants needs to have matured and I personally prefer to wait until the leaves have died back - to me that signifies all of the plant's healing energy is now held in the root. 

To harvest ashwagandha roots, carefully dig around the base of the plant with a garden fork, taking care not to damage the delicate roots. Gently lift the plant from the soil and shake off any excess dirt. Trim away the leaves and stems, leaving just the roots intact. 

Since we are in a warmer climate, I’ll trim the roots back to the root ball, then plant the root ball back in the ground and mulch. By next spring, it has sprouted new leaves and is ready to grow another year of powerful plant medicine!

image shows four different offerings of ashwagandha available at leehouse:  Ground and Center Adaptogen Tea Grow Your Own Tincture alone or with our Sleep Well Kit Bulk Root for you DIYers

Preparations of Ashwagandha Root

Once harvested, ashwagandha roots can be dried and powdered for use in teas, tinctures, capsules, and other herbal preparations. To dry the roots, spread them out in a single layer on a clean, dry surface, such as a mesh drying rack or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place the roots in a warm, well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight and allow them to air dry for several days, or until they are completely dry and brittle.

Once dry, the roots can be ground into a fine powder using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder. Store the powdered ashwagandha in an airtight container in a cool, dark place to preserve its freshness and potency.

Using Ashwagandha: Nourishing Body and Mind

Ashwagandha is a prominent herb in traditional eastern medicine, with its use dating back 5,000 years. In Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha is considered a Rasayana. This means that it helps maintain youth, both mentally and physically. In Western herbalism, we call it an adaptogen, because of its ability to increase the body’s resistance to stress and overall rejuvenating effects. 

At LeeHouse, you’ll find ashwagandha in our Ground and Center tea, as a tincture, and in our Sleep Well Bundle. We also offer bulk ashwagandha root for those who like to make their own.

Here are just a few of Ashwagandha's reported health benefits:

  • Reduces stress and anxiety: Ashwagandha has been shown to lower cortisol levels and reduce symptoms of anxiety by up to 56% in human studies.
  • Improves brain function: Ashwagandha has neuroprotective effects and can improve memory, attention, and cognitive function.
  • Boosts immune system: Ashwagandha can increase the activity of natural killer cells and has anti-inflammatory effects that can help reduce inflammation in the body.
  • May have anti-cancer properties: Ashwagandha has been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells in test-tube studies.
  • Improves fertility: Ashwagandha can help improve fertility in men by increasing sperm count and motility.
  • May help manage diabetes: Ashwagandha can reduce blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.

Using Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha can be used in a variety of ways:

  1. As a tea: Boil a teaspoon of dried ashwagandha root in a cup of water for about 10 minutes. Strain the tea and add honey or other sweeteners to taste.
  1. As a tincture: For rapid absorption, try ashwagandha tincture. A dropper full under the tongue or added to your tea or juice is a great way to absorb the benefits quickly and easily. 
  1. As a powder: Add a teaspoon of ashwagandha root powder to your favorite smoothie recipe, to soups, sauces, stews and other dishes for an added nutritional boost.
  1. In capsules: You can find ashwagandha supplements in capsule form at health food stores or online.

Astrology of Ashwagandha

Not surprising given its adaptogenic qualities, ashwagandha is ruled by both the sun and the moon. This mirrors its physical effects - while providing us with great strength, adaptability, and grounded-ness, it also supports the more lunar aspects - expanded consciousness, dreams, relaxation, peace. Ashwagandha invites us to align with our True North by trusting - trusting intuition, fate, the divine. 

Energetic Healing with Ashwagandha

Associated with the Root Chakra, Ashwagandha serves as a catalyst for grounding and stability, anchoring us to the fertile soil of our existence. Its  red berries represent the vitality and strength of the earth. Its deep musky horse-scent stimulates the root chakra. I like to think of it as the sunlight pouring it’s warming, healing strength through my crown, lighting up each energy center all the way to the root. For added grounding, send that visualization down from your root out the soles of your feet and into the earth. With breathwork,this can be a produncly healing and energizing visualization practice.

From the perspective of working with herbs and tapping into their magic you might sit with ashwagandha root in meditation or carry a pouch in your pocket. Think of its nature - balancing, fierce, strong, horse-like. Inhale the scent and notice how it tingles the base of your spine. Notice how the smell, touch, taste resonate in your thoughts - what comes to mind? This is the spirit of the plant sharing its wisdom. 

a bowl of dried ashwagandha roots, which are thin and brown.

Harnessing the Power of Ashwagandha

From promoting stress resilience to supporting immune function and beyond, ashwagandha is truly a botanical treasure with a wealth of benefits to offer. Whether you're sipping on a soothing ashwagandha tea or incorporating the powdered root into your favorite recipes, this ancient herb has the power to nourish body, mind, and spirit.

As you take off on your ashwagandha journey, we recommend taking an approach of reverence and with reverence and respect for ashwagandha’s profound healing potential. I see ashwagandha as an elder - it’s offered its medicine and guidance to humans for thousands of years. 

Whether you're growing it in your garden or incorporating it into your wellness routine, may ashwagandha's wisdom guide you on the path to vibrant health and vitality.

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