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With all the stress of modern-day life, it can start to take a toll on our health. Adaptogens like ashwagandha help mitigate the effects and support the nervous system. Plus lots of other health benefits. Today I’m sharing the benefits of ashwagandha and how to make an ashwagandha tincture that’s worth having in your home apothecary.
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is also known as Indian ginseng or by its Latin name, Withania somnifera. Traditionally, African countries have used the leaf and other parts of the plant. Most modern uses rely on the root. In ayurvedic medicine, it’s been used for thousands of years for everything from brain fog to paralysis.
This plant grows in warmer climates and is native to areas like Africa and India. But you can also grow it as a potted plant or an annual in cooler growing zones. When fully mature it sports bright red berries that grow in husks, similar to ground cherries.
Benefits of Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is most famously known as an adaptogenic herb, something that helps us adapt to stress. While most adaptogens are stimulating, ashwagandha is calming. This makes it great for regulating the adrenals. It was one of the herbs I used when recovering from adrenal fatigue.
It also has a special effect on the thyroid. Ashwagandha helps boost thyroid hormones T3 and T4 and decreases thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). This makes it a useful tool for hypothyroid (when the thyroid is underactive). On the flip side, it can cause issues for those with an overactive thyroid or hyperthyroid.
Ashwagandha benefits our well-being in many different ways. As an adaptogen, it’s also been clinically shown to help with anxiety. It’s also an immune modulator. This means it helps bring the immune system back into balance, whether it’s over or underactive. In ayurveda practices, it’s used as a restorative and to strengthen the body.
Here are even more ways ashwagandha can be a part of a healthy wellness routine:
- Helps with brain fog and cloudy thinking
- Relieves fatigue by supporting the nervous system
- Reduces the stress hormone cortisol
- Relieves painful muscles from inflammatory autoimmune disease. Like rheumatoid arthritis.
- High in iron and good for anemia
- Helps relieve symptoms from menopause, like muscle pain and brain fog
- For men, it can help bring the spark back into the bedroom
- Improves circulation, blood health, and healthy cholesterol levels.
How to Use Ashwagandha Herb
Ashwagandha root is the most commonly used and most studied part of the plant. You can use ashwagandha powder to make an herbal tea. Or you can make an ashwagandha extract with alcohol, or an alcohol-free version with glycerin. Herbal tinctures traditionally made with alcohol extract different constituents than those made with glycerin.
Powdered ashwagandha taken in tea may cause joint pain for some people. This is according to hormone specialist Magdalena Wszelaki. Ashwagandha capsules and herbal extracts made with alcohol don’t seem to have this problem.
Who Shouldn’t Use Ashwagandha?
Like any herbal supplement, organic ashwagandha root isn’t for everyone. Those who have an overactive thyroid may get worse after using ashwagandha. It’s also not considered safe during pregnancy. However, it is used to increase lactation during breastfeeding. And if you’re on barbiturate drugs, it can enhance or increase their effects. Modern drugs have largely replaced this class of medications though.
If you have any medical conditions or are breastfeeding, check with your natural healthcare practitioner before supplementing with ashwagandha.
Where to Buy it
If you don’t happen to have any growing in your garden, there are several ways to get ashwagandha. You can also buy premade herbal products if you don’t want to make your own.
How to Make Ashwagandha Tincture
I like tinctures for several reasons. They’re shelf-stable for years, easy to travel with, and you only need a small amount. There are two ways to make tinctures. One is the simple or folk method. The other is more precise and uses a weight-to-volume measurement. Either option will work, but you’ll get more consistent results if you use the same amount of herb each time.
It all starts with quality ingredients. If you can find organic cane alcohol that’s the healthiest option. It’s gluten-free and made from non-GMO sugarcane instead of corn. If not, you can find regular 190-proof alcohol at your local store. Since ashwagandha extracts best with a 70% alcohol solution, we’re starting with 95% and diluting.
Using the Simple Method
If you prefer not to weigh ingredients then there’s always the folk method. It’s what I use most frequently when making tinctures. All you do is fill a jar 1/3 to 1/2 full of dried or fresh herbs. Pour the alcohol over, put the lid on, and let it steep for 2-6 weeks. It’s easy, but you may have some batches with stronger potency than others.
The following recipe uses a standard 1:5 dilution. In simple terms this means for every 1 ounce of herb by weight, we’re adding 5 ounces of liquid by volume. Don’t worry, I’ve already done the math for you! The alcohol is also at a 70% strength. If all you can find is 80-proof alcohol (40%), then replace the water in the recipe with more alcohol. It won’t be as strong and you may need to dose a little more, but it will still work.
How to Make an Ashwagandha Tincture (Plus Benefits!)
This easy ashwagandha tincture recipe can help with stress relief, immune support, and more!
- 3.2 ounces ashwagandha root (by weight)
- 1 and ½ cups 190 proof alcohol (like Everclear)
- ½ cup filtered water
- Add the ashwagandha to your jar. Either cut or powdered herb will work.
- Add the alcohol and water next. If they don’t cover the herbs then add more water and alcohol mixture just until they do. Use 3 parts alcohol for every 1 part water.
- Put the lid on the jar and store in a cool, dark place for 2-4 weeks. Shake occasionally during that time.
- Once the tincture is done, strain out the herbs with a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth and compost.
- Add the filtered ashwagandha tincture to dropper bottles and store in a cool, dark place.
- The standard adult dose is 1-10ml three times a day. This can be adjusted to your personal needs.
- Alcohol-based tinctures last for years when stored properly.
How Much Does This Make?
Just a note on how much tincture this recipe makes. It will really depend on how dry your ashwagandha herb is. Plus if you used powdered or cut and sifted herb. And then there’s how hard you squeeze out the herbs in the cheesecloth. So you may end up with a little more or a little less liquid in the end. This doesn’t affect the quality, though and you’ll still have a good tincture.
Have you ever used ashwagandha before? What’s your favorite way to use it? Leave a comment and let me know!