Nora is a writer and consultant working with sustainable brands to make an impact. In 2022, she founded Mossy Copy, LLC, a full-service copy studio based in Austin, TX. Her master’s in English is from NYU, and her bachelor’s in the same is from Sewanee. Areas of expertise include wellness, nutrition, style, and beauty.

None of us are immune to stress, but we can prepare our bodies to face stress using supportive herbs as a natural defense. The effects of elevated stress on our bodies are complex and far-reaching, but adaptogenic plants like Ashwagandha can help us protect ourselves on a daily basis from the onslaughts of stress in our modern world.

A potent flowering shrub that’s relied upon heavily in Ayurvedic medicine to harmonize the mind, body, and spirit, Ashwagandha is one of the most central adaptogenic supplements we possess for bringing our internal systems back to homeostasis when stress takes hold. In this article, well discuss how to use organic Ashwagandha for stress and explain what makes it so effective. 

Does Ashwagandha Reduce Stress?

Stress is more than just an emotional state; it’s a physical state as well. When your body goes into fight or flight mode (an activation of your sympathetic nervous system) your body releases the stress hormone cortisol to help halt non-essential functions (like hair growth and digestion) in favor of attending to the perceived threat (whatever is sending your body into overdrive).

Ashwagandha is clinically shown to reduce stress and regulate cortisol in your body.

It’s a calming, mineral-dense nervine that nourishes both the adrenal and thyroid glands to tame stress, renew vigor, and restore centeredness.

The modern study of adaptogens started in the 1940s with Soviet scientists. By the 1960s, they were conducting hundreds of clinical studies measuring the adaptogenic response of humans to stressful conditions like heat, exercise, and an increased workload. What they discovered was that adaptogens helped improve the body’s response to different levels of stress. Since then, Western researchers have observed how adaptogens regulate the hypothalamic, pituitary, adrenal access, HPA, and sympathoadrenal systems.

It’s important to understand that stress is “more than a feeling.” It’s not simply a mental state, it can become physical as well. Stress has many effects on our bodies, from causing weight gain to increasing hair shedding to causing breakouts to wreaking havoc on sleep cycles. The inflammation caused by chronic stress can also lead to long-term health consequences.

In a changing world where headlines are always at our fingertips and demands are just a notification away, it’s important to support our resilience to stress every day. That’s why adopting healthy habits that combat the negative effects of stress is essential for anyone and everyone looking to live a healthier lifestyle. By helping reduce stress levels and regulate cortisol, an Ashwagandha powder supplement can help our bodies lessen the effects of stress, even when stress is inevitable. 

How Do Adaptogens Help?

Adaptogenic plants are the products of their environment, thriving in some of the harshest climates on Earth, from high altitudes to extreme radiation from the sun. This same adaptive energy that’s helped them endure in turn helps us stay afloat amidst life’s constant changes.

Adaptogens work to lighten the effects of stress on our bodies in two main pathways: through the HPA axis (or hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis), and the SAS, or sympathoadrenal system (aka, the fight-or-flight stress response).

In doing so, they help modulate the sensitivity of the hypothalamus so that less cortisol is released when the body responds to stress. Adaptogen herbs can also help recharge the adrenal glands, allowing them to return to a state of rest after a stressful period. Finally, they can prevent mitochondrial dysfunction that may result from high cortisol levels in the body, essentially helping the energy source of each cell continue functioning properly under high stress conditions.

When Should I Take Ashwagandha for Stress Relief?

The benefits of Ashwagandha for women and men are both short and long-term. While you might start to notice more calm after a few hours of taking Ashwagandha for stress relief, the best way to prepare your body to meet life’s unexpected changes is by taking an organic Ashwagandha supplement on a daily basis.

The most powerful medicine is the one you actually take, so incorporate an Ashwagandha supplement into your life in a way that works for you and allows you to be consistent. Many people like to start their day with Ashwagandha root powder as it’s been clinically shown to enhance focus and mental stamina.

That being said, Ashwagandha is traditionally mixed into milk as an evening tonic in Ayurvedic medicine. Because your cortisol levels are higher in the morning, taking Ashwagandha in the PM is the best time to take Ashwgandha. It can help you stick to a more natural circadian rhythm, when your cortisol levels are naturally lower. Though the adaptogenic herb is calming, it doesn’t have a sedative effect, meaning it can help support you as you unwind for sleep, but won’t make you tired.

Ashwagandha has been clinically shown to enhance focus and mental stamina and is often used to support a healthy circadian rhythm from day to night. Many people like to start their day with Ashwagandha in their coffee, tea, or smoothies.

Instead of feeling that you need an entire new pantry or way of life to experience the benefits of Ashwagandha, try to simply hack your existing habits by plugging into daily rituals you already have: coffee or smoothies in the morning, dark chocolate in the afternoon, evening tea, or a tall bottle of water to sip on throughout your day.

Depending on the extraction method used, there may be slight variation in Ashwagandha’s flavor. Ashwagandha root powder is a dark, rich brown with a candied nut smell and an earthy bitter taste, excellent for pairing with coffee, chocolate, milks, and caramel flavors.

If you prefer the ease of a pill, SuperYou® is your daily defense to help reduce the effects of stress with a potent adaptogenic blend of Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, Shatavari, and Amla. The clinical strength formula in these anti stress supplements helps reduce cortisol by 24% for proactive and reactive stress support.* The recommended Ashwagandha dosage is 2 capsules daily. 

Key Takeaways

There’s no such thing as completely eliminating stressors from our lives, but Ashwagandha is a powerful herb we can use to help us meet stress and mitigate the effects of cortisol when it comes. This mood root can help you tap into your healer’s intuition and embrace the intelligence of nature.

Our fight-or-flight stress response is there for a reason. When it helps us attend to actual threats, it’s an invaluable survival mechanism. But when stress is an everyday state of mind, spiking your sympathetic nervous system and keeping cortisol levels chronically elevated, it’s time to seek adaptogenic support.

By helping your body adapt with grace to the triggers of occasional stress, plants like Ashwagandha can help connect us to calm so we can restore our minds and bodies. Want to find more herbs that help our bodies adapt? Check out our mood boosting adaptogenic supplements.