Cooking

What in the World Is Ashwagandha?

We're calling it now: This mighty herb is the new turmeric
Ashwaganda Powder
Photo: Michelle Sun/Tasting Table

Say it with us: ash-wa-gan-dha. If you got two syllables in before calling it quits, we don’t blame you. But this natural herb is as good for you as it hard to pronounce.

Ashwagandha is an herb used in Ayurvedic medicine, the 3,000-year-old healing practice from India. You’ll easily find it in pills, but you can also find it in powder form on Amazon or specialty shops like L.A.-based Moon Juice. In her upcoming cookbook, Moon Juice founder Amanda Chantal Bacon lists ashwagandha as a “high-functioning power food,” saying it “aids thyroid function, alleviates depression, improves sleep, and contributes to virility.”

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We’re no doctors, but that sounds like a pretty good deal and explains why you’ll find the herb included in power-packed smoothies in Bacon’s book. Another perk? Its taste and smell are much milder than other supplements out there (we’re looking at you, spirulina). Here are five more things to know about this cool-again ingredient.

① It’s great in smoothies: Just ask Gwyneth Paltrow who, according to Goop, puts the powder in her smoothie every morning.

② It’s relaxing: Sure, you can think of another herb that helps you bliss out, but this one is fully legal. Add a spoonful to a cup of warm milk before bed to help you drift off happily.

③ It won’t break the bank: Some herbal supplements can run upward of $30 per purchase. But you can get ashwagandha for $14 per 10-ounce pouch. And since a little goes a long way, you’ll be herb-battling yourself to health for cheap.

④ It has street cred: Ashwagandha is otherwise known as Indian ginseng, alluding to its similarities with the popular tea that gets touted as a cure-all.

⑤ It’s adaptogenic: All this really means is that it helps balance your physiological systems. Too much 2 a.m. pizza? Say “I’m sorry” with an ashwagandha-spiked smoothie.

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