Ashwagandha: Keep calm and be awesome

By Sara Lovelady 

If you ever feel overwhelmed by the never-ending to-do list of modern life, there’s one herb you should know about: ashwagandha. The root of this well-studied herb has a long history of use in Ayurveda—the ancient Indian system of medicine—for restoring vigor and strength after the body has been depleted by stress.*

 

A premier adaptogenic herb

Ashwagandha is an adaptogen. This remarkable class of herbs actually increases an individual’s ability to maintain homeostasis, even when under physical, mental, or emotional stress.*

Unlike most herbs, which work in one direction, adaptogens work in all directions. Ephedra, for example, is a stimulant. No matter who takes ephedra, the herb will have a stimulating effect similar to caffeine. Its direction, in other words, is always up.

Adaptogens, however, can turn the dial up or down as needed. Like a thermostat that heats or cools the air to maintain a consistent temperature, adaptogens increase or decrease bodily activity to maintain homeostasis.* Their direction changes depending on the person.*

As an adaptogen, ashwagandha reads what your body needs and then fine tunes your system in response. If you feel fatigued, it will energize you.* If you are stressed out, it will calm you down.* If you need to concentrate, it will help you focus.* If you need to rest, it will relax you.* Sound too good to be true? Check out the research!

 

Researched benefits of ashwagandha

Several human clinical trials published over the past two decades provide scientific evidence that ashwagandha is effective for the relief of occasional stress.*

In 2000, a double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that after six weeks of treatment with 500mg of ashwagandha per day, 88.2 percent of participants felt relief from occasional stress, while only 50 percent of those taking the placebo did.* (In other words, it was almost twice as effective!)

Another double-blind study published in 2009 and lasting 12 weeks compared two different protocols for occasional stress. One group of participants received counseling about diet, learned deep-breathing exercises, and took a multivitamin plus 600 mg of ashwagandha per day. The other group received psychotherapy, learned the same breathing exercises, and took a placebo. At the end of the study, the ashwagandha group experienced a 56.5 percent reduction in stress, while the psychotherapy group experienced just a 30.5 percent decline.* (Again, ashwagandha was nearly two times as effective!) The folks taking ashwagandha also experienced more marked improvements in concentration, energy, social functioning, and overall quality of life.*

 

How ashwagandha works

The active constituents of ashwagandha are called withanolides. They work by decreasing levels of cortisol, a hormone released during stress, and increasing levels of DHEA, a hormone that supports a positive mood.*

These mechanisms of action were illustrated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in 2008 that compared stress symptoms and hormone levels among people taking either 125, 250, or 500 mg of Sensoril® (a standardized extract of ashwagandha) or a placebo. Sensoril® not only helped reduce feelings of occasional stress—as well as sleeplessness, forgetfulness, and irritability—it also reduced cortisol while increasing DHEA.*

Ashwagandha root extract is sold in capsules or tablets, or as a powder or tincture. The withanolide content is often standardized and indicated on the label and can vary from 1.5 percent to 10 percent.

 

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2958355/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19718255

https://blog.priceplow.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/withania_review.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3573577/

Collagen: Bring firmness back to your skin

By Sara Lovelady

One hallmark of youthful skin is firmness. When you’re young, your skin is naturally taut. As your skin ages, though, it loses its firmness and starts to sag. Ideally, you want to take steps to prevent your skin from sagging in the first place. But if you’re past that point, is there anything you can do? The answer is yes, in the form of collagen.

Beauty from the inside out

Collagen is a structural protein and the main component of connective tissue. It makes up 30 percent of the protein in your body and an amazing 70 percent of the protein in your skin.

Think of collagen as the scaffolding of a building. It provides the structure that supports and binds the other tissues of your body, including your tendons, muscles, cartilage, skin, and bones.* Unfortunately, several factors—including chronological aging, sun exposure, pollution, and smoke—break down the collagen in your skin, causing it to droop and wrinkle.

The good news is that collagen supplementation can help. In fact, a human clinical study found that when 26 women took 1 gram daily of a combination of type II collagen, chondroitin sulfate, and hyaluronic acid for 6 weeks, the collagen content of their skin increased significantly.* At the end of the 12-week study, the participants experienced visible skin health benefits, too, including significant reductions in facial lines and wrinkles, dryness, and skin scaling.*

How does collagen work?

Collagen appears to work in a number of different ways to support youthful skin.* First, test-tube research has shown that collagen stimulates chondrocytes (cartilage cells) to produce type II collagen and proteoglycans—both important components of connective tissue.* Second, human research has documented that collagen supplementation may help the body synthesize hyaluronic acid (HA).* Because HA holds water molecules in the skin, it contributes to skin firmness.* And third, animal research has found that collagen ingestion enhances the number of fibroblasts (cells that produce collagen) in the body and protects against UV damage to the skin.*

All collagen is not the same

Importantly, there are several different kinds of collagen:

  • Type I collagen is present in the skin, tendons, blood vessels, organs, and bone
  • Type II collagen is present in the cartilage
  • Type III collagen is present in the reticular fibers of connective tissue
  • Type IV collagen is present in the basal lamina, a layer of the extracellular matrix
  • Type V collagen is present in the cell surfaces, hair, and placenta

A combination of various types of collagen may be more effective for supporting youthful skin than one type alone.*

* This statement has not been reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3426261/

Finding Calm

Vitanova Calm

It’s happening…that moment when you lose your calm.

It happens to all of us at some point. The stress of today’s hectic lifestyle mounts, we feel overwhelmed, agitated and we lose our calm.

Whatever it is that takes away our calm, we all know that feeling.

The kids have been crazy, the boss has been piling on the deadlines, someone cut in front of you driving, you get home and there is no toilet paper in the bathroom again—and finally you really do lose your sense of calm.

5 Daily Rituals to Keep Our Calm:

Slow Down

It sounds simple, but it works: Slow down and remember to breathe. The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale)
  • Imagine all the stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face. Really it works.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to. The good thing about breathing is that we can do it no matter where we are!

Meditate

Meditation is another way to help us to relax. Think of it as exercise for your mind.

Choose a word and then meditate on that word for just five minutes a day. This can help decrease your stress and make you more mindful.

Headspace is an application and blog to help you learn to meditate. They have a great free application to download here. It is a great resource if you have never meditated before, and we love the ones to do on the go!

Exercise

Speaking of exercising—it is not to just burn off those calories! Making exercise part of our daily routine helps us burn off energy and be mindful of our bodies. It can be as simple as taking a short break during the day to go outside and connect with nature, finding time to put a walk into your routine, or discovering a yoga class that will fit into your schedule.

ClassPass is a fun way to try out different classes that may work for you and is also useful to find classes when you are traveling. We love the flexibility of it. They even have a Newbie option.

Golden Milk Cocoa

Photo: Local Milk

Put down your cup of joe. This energizing and cleansing beverage* gets a nutrient kick from coconut oil, turmeric, and adaptogenic ashwagandha. “Long used in Ayurvedic medicine, Ashwagandha is said to reduce anxiety and cortisol (the stress hormone) as well as improves your ability to focus,” writes Local Milk blogger Beth Kirby. Drink break, anyone?

*Article originally posted LocalMilk blog / WellandGood

Explore the Benefits of Ashwagandha

Try adding the adaptogenic* herb Ashwagandha supplement as part of the daily ritual to support keeping calm and being awesome.

Ashwagandha was used in the ancient Indian system of medicine Ayurveda which is the…  You can learn more about the science of Ashwagandha here*. It is said to help alleviate symptoms of stress and fatigue and support an energetic sense of wellbeing.

Vitanova recently launched our KeepCalm Organic Ashwagandha supplement to support daily living to find and keep calm. We believe that success in life should be calm and peaceful. Learn more about our new product here.

Vitanova means new life and rebirth. We support those seeking to live boldly and those who are looking for a sense of rebirth in their daily life.

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