Ashwagandha (Latin: Withania somnifera, Solanaceae family) is a highly regarded Ayurvedic herb that is mildly warming, bitter, astringent and sweet in taste.  The root is often used, and it is considered a premier tonic and rejuvenative.  It reduces Vata and Kapha, but increases Pitta and Ama with excessive use. It is not to be used when there is a cold or flu present, lymphatic congestion, high Ama (Phlegm in TCM), or severe congestion of any kind.

Dosage is typically 1-10g for acute conditions, or 1g per day as a lifelong tonic (mostly for men).

In recent years, Ashwagandha has been used for those with Hashimoto’s and thyroid dysfunction (low or hypo thyroid, not hyper).  It is noted as a tonic for building stamina, something those of us with Hashimoto’s often struggle with.*  Studies confirm that with the small tonic doses of ashwagandha, stress tolerance and endurance/performance enhancing benefits were noted.  It is often used with issues of chronic fatigue, insomnia, memory loss, nerve diseases, general debility and exhaustion, anxiety, and if combined with arjuna bark it is beneficial with some heart/vascular disorders.

For women, if you are on the dry side, take with shatavari.

An important note: as a tonic, Ashwagandha is a slow-acting herb, so if you are using this to help rebalance your sleep rhythms, or tolerance to stress, be mindful that your results will not be immediate!  If you are looking for something that is a fast-acting band-aid solution for insomnia or stress tolerance, this is not the herb for you.

Ashwagandha Manuka Tea

Ingredients:

  • 2TB ashwagandha root (pieces)
  • 1.5c water
  • Pour boiling water over ashwagandha, cover and let steep for several hours.  (This is when mason jars are handy!)
  • Strain, and toss the root pieces.

Now, boil more water, and make a cup of black, rooibos or other tea that you would typically put “milk” into.  (Milk in quotes because it can be dairy-milk or a plant-based milk, I’m currently a fan of Oatly “milk”.)

Remember to leave enough room in your mug so that you can add a good 1/4 cup of the ashwagandha tea and milk at the end.  Steep your tea as usual, then remove the bag/leaves/etc.

Now, add manuka (or local!) honey to your mug, stir to dissolve.

Then, add ¼c of the ashwagandha infusion and milk to your liking.

This is going to taste… different.  Give it a few days.

Notice the effect the tea has on your body.

If you tolerate chai spices such as cinnamon, dried ginger, cardamom, clove and so on, I highly recommend making a decoction of the chai with ashwagandha on the stove and going about your chai-tea business.  As for me, heating chai spices give me headaches, so I tend to avoid having them regularly.  I do love cardamom, and this tea is lovely with cardamom pods added to the tea steep portion.

I also like this tea on cold, damp and rainy days prepared this way:

  • Black tea steeped with 3 cardamom pods (crushed) and 1 piece of dried orange peel
  • Ashwagandha infusion (1/4c)
  • Honey – either a local dark or manuka (my favorite local honey is goldenrod!)
  • Milk of choice

This combo helps eliminate that “heavy” feeling that rainy days tend to bring.  It’s also good if you have a bit of phlegmyness in your throat – just be careful of the kind of milk you use so you don’t make that phlegm worse!

Ashwagandha Pastilles*

Ingredients:

  • 10 parts ashwagandha (powdered)
  • 1 part pipali (long pepper, or black pepper)
  • 5 parts ghee (or coconut oil)
  • 10 parts honey (use local, or manuka)

Combine then roll into ½-1g sized balls, and take 3-4 pastilles per day.

*The Way of Ayurvedic Herbs – KP Singh Khalsa, M. Tierra

Ashwaghanda is the featured herb in the Stay Awake! Sesame Truffles!