Ashwagandha Tea for Brain Function

The skinny  green leaves of ashwagandha can be seen sprouting up throughout the dry provinces of India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Ranging in height between one and two feet, this short shrub is most easily identified by the bright red-orange berries it produces. However, this plant is not harvested for its berries, which contain a mild toxin, but for its root, which is known to offer a variety of health benefits. In India, the plant is famous for its ability to promote healthy brain function and optimize memory.

Ashwagandha In The Wild

How Stress Affects Brain Function

Most people have experienced the negative effect that stress has on the brain, shortening the ability to focus, retain memory and process cognitively. This is largely due to the stress-related hormone cortisol. Cortisol is a kind of steroid released by the adrenal glands in times of stress. Its primary function is to provide the body with energy by increasing blood sugar, prompting the metabolizing of fats, proteins and carbs, and suppressing the body’s immune function. However, cortisol has shown detrimental effects to other parts of the body, chiefly to the brain. Cortisol damages the hippocampus, the center of the brain responsible for memory and learning. This makes it more difficult for the brain to create, store and retrieve memories. Cortisol also affects the neurotransmitters that send information between the neurons, effectively limiting the ability to process thought. Because cortisol redirects blood sugar to the muscles, less fuel is also given to the brain for processing. Collaboratively, all of these things prevent the brain from thinking and learning under stress the way it would normally be able to.

How Ashwagandha Helps Brain Function

Ashwagandha tea offers many beneficial properties for brain function, especially for restoring and protecting brain function during times of stress. Ashwagandha has been shown to reduce the body’s release of cortisol, thus helping to protect the brain from interference from this stress hormone. Studies have shown that ashwagandha can significantly reduce the amount of degeneration of the brain cells that is caused by stress. Furthermore, there is evidence that ashwagandha may promote the growth and regeneration of nerve axons and dendrites, improving the flow of information going to and from the brain. Ashwagandha tea also stimulates increased activity of the acetylcholine receptors. As acetylcholine is a vital neurotransmitter, essential to the passing of information between neurons, an increased sensitivity to this neurotransmitter allows the brain better processing and may aid in learning and memory retention.