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What is Ashwagandha?

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We could say that “last year was stressful,” but that would already be the biggest understatement of 2021. For many of us, last year gave a whole new meaning to the word “stress.” As we roll into the new year, it’s time to leave that word behind. We already know that gr8nola is your healthy cure for late night stress eating, but we’re about to take stress relief to another level. 2021, meet our brand new flavor Peanut Butter -- chock full of your favorite nutrient-dense nut and the most powerful stress relieving ingredient we could find: ashwagandha. Step aside, jelly, we’re giving peanut butter a new partner-in-crime. 

History of Ashwagandha

ashwagandha root

Image Source: Getty Images, eskyamks

For more than two millennia, ashwagandha has been used in India, the Middle East, and some parts of North Africa. The small shrub plant with yellow flowers is one of the most commonly used and important herbs in Ayurveda, a system of medicine based on Indian principles of natural healing and prevention. Often referred to as “Indian Winter cherry” or “Indian Ginseng,” this powerful herb has been used for a wide range of ailments in ancient traditions

Over time, ashwagandha has been used as a tonic, aphrodisiac, narcotic, diuretic, astringent, stimulant and thermogenic. But for most of its robust history, ashwagandha has been used as a “rasayana”, or a treatment that helps relieve emotional and physical tension and promotes general wellbeing. In modern times, ashwagandha has been classified as an adaptogen, meaning it can help your body manage stress. 

Ashwagandha & Stress Management

woman meditating

Image Source: Omid Armin

Ashwagandha contains sitoindosides, a kind of steroid that has been proven to have significant anti-stress activity by reducing levels of cortisol, a hormone released by your adrenal glands in response to stress. In a 60-day study of 64 people with chronic stress, 69% of the group that supplemented with ashwagandha reported a reduction in both anxiety and insomnia. Another double-blind study showed that 88% of people who took ashwagandha reported a reduction in anxiety.

What else does it do?


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Beyond just reducing stress levels in the body, ashwagandha has been praised for its abilities to:

Reduce blood sugar levels. Studies have found that ashwagandha intake increases insulin secretion and improves insulin sensitivity in cells, both in healthy people and in those with diabetes. Unlike PB’s usual partner, you won’t be experiencing any sugar spikes or crashes.

Reduce symptoms of depression. In one study of 64 adults, those who took a daily dose of high-concentration ashwagandha extract reported a 79% reduction in severe depression

Fight inflammation. If you love the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric in our Golden Spice gr8nola (link) -- chances are you’ll love our PB flavor. Ashwagandha has been found to increase the activity of natural killer cells, which are immune cells that fight infection. It also has been shown to decrease C-Reactive Protein, a marker of inflammation that is also linked to an increase in heart disease. Ashwagandha also has high concentration of withanolides, a steroidal organic chemical proven to reduce inflammation in the body.

Boost brain function. We’re about to give a new meaning to “eating smarter.” Several studies have proven ashwagandha’s ability to improve reaction time, memory, and task performance in test subjects. 

Ashwagandha isn’t just a superfood. It’s a millennials-old herb that has been treated as medicine in many cultures, with properties that span the brain and body. From improved mental health to reduced inflammation, ashwagandha’s benefits may just change the game for you. 

New year, new staple: meet PB & A.