To keep your spirits high even when the temperatures are low, it’s important to focus on quality sleep, a balanced diet and regular exercise. But there may still be some gaps in your overall wellbeing. As you wait for the clock to spring forward and the hype of a new year to settle down, you can fill in the missing pieces with these Ayurvedic supplements. Learn more about the two key herbs that have proven to be beneficial for mood support.
Ashwagandha assails cortisol
Ashwagandha, while challenging to pronounce and even more difficult to spell, is a highly popular traditional Aryuvedic herb that has been used in Eastern medicine for centuries. Botanically known as Withania somnifera, it acts an adaptogen, which means it provides numerous physiological benefits to the body. One of ashwagandha’s primary perks is its involvement with cortisol levels.
Cortisol is the main stress hormone released from your adrenal glands. Cortisol is essential in the acute sense, meaning it works to activate the evolutionary fight-or-flight response, increase awareness and adapt to physiological stressors, such as exercise. However, whether chronic or short-term, the release of cortisol can impact the body negatively by suppressing your immune system and increasing the risk for chronic disease.*
According to a 2012 study published in Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, “cortisol levels were substantially reduced” in participants who took a highly concentrated, full-spectrum ashwagandha root extract supplement. Due to its cortisol-reducing benefits noted in the 2012 study, ashwagandha has shown to support the neurological, immune, energy production, endocrine and reproductive systems. All these great ashwagandha benefits are a result of standardized compounds like withanolides, which protect cells from oxidative damage. When supplementing with ashwangandha, it’s important that you choose the root form, as this contains the most active compounds.*
Shilajit supports your cells
Another classic Aruyvedic herb that has been used for centuries is known as shilajit or “moomiyo.” Shilajit is a mineral pitch that is harvested from the Himalayan Mountains at high altitudes (1,000-5,000 meters) during the summer months. It has been used by the native sherpas, who have been known to summit Mt. Everest without supplemental oxygen.
In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study by Pal and Bhattacharya et al., six volunteers supplemented with 200 mg of shilajit for 15 days. At baseline and again at 15 days, the Harvard Step Test was performed and blood was drawn to measure lab values. Results demonstrated that adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels were increased in the treatment group and coenzyme-Q10 (CoQ10) levels were normalized.*
This shows that shilajit may be influential in producing cellular energy components such as ATP and CoQ10. ATP is the basic energy unit for all metabolic processes; and CoQ10 is an essential in the production of ATP by reinforcing the health of the mitochondria (the powerhouse factory of the cell that generates ATP). However, elevated CoQ10 indicates high levels of stress.
Since ATP becomes depleted with exercise, replenishing those levels and keeping CoQ10 in check permits optimal performance. Supplementing with shilajit can support your body’s natural energy production. But don’t expect a coffee-like boost. The benefits happen at the cellular level.
Your healthy winter starts here...
While ashwagandha and shilajit function in different ways, they tend to promote the same beneficial outcomes. They are both Aryuvedic herbs that have been utilized in Eastern medicine for centuries, and they both provide numerous benefits to the body. They certainly complement each other, one reducing stress levels while the other supports energy at the cellular level. Taking these concurrently can provide a synergistic effect at small doses that will not break the bank.
Looking for other natural ways to support a healthy mood this winter? Try any one of these lifestyle tricks to help recharge your body and mind.
- Light a couple candles and soak in a bubble bath while you enjoy a sweet, mineral-rich mocktail.
- Give yourself a good rub down with a soothing, Ayurvedic massage oil.
- Incorporate aromatherapy into your morning and evening routines.
- Sip on a warm cup of herbal tea which provide a number of healthful benefits.
- Spend 10 minutes working through a few yoga poses that will help you beat the winter blues.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.