with Dr Teitelbaum – your SV Ayurveda Newsletter April 4, 2024, #12, Vol 13

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Why & How


to Use It!

Ashwagandha is one of the most widely used herbs in all of Ayurveda since it is one of the best herbs to help you deal with stress, which is rampant nowadays. However, the ancient doctors said that since they couldn’t foresee what would happen in the future they were depending on the future doctors of Ayurveda to make the necessary changes always adhering to the core principles outlined in the ancient texts. 

Let me first explain some facts about Ashwagandha and then I’ll show you some changes which need to be made regarding its use in this modern era.

Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) is considered an adaptogenic herb because it helps you to adapt to stress. One way of saying this is that when we’re under stress our adrenal glands dump a lot of cortisol into our bloodstream. Cortisol has so many side effects: it can decrease the thyroid gland function, it can flush magnesium out of your body increasing the risk of panic attacks and irregular heartbeats, it can make you gain weight in the face and abdomen, can cause high blood pressure, and can pretty much wreak havoc all around the body.

The good news is that Ashwagandha prevents the release of too much cortisol when we’re stressed, preventing all these side effects and helping us to remain balanced as we go through the stressful situations.

The word “Ashwagandha” means “which smells like a horse.” It is felt that the ancient doctors were implying here that Ashwagandha gives you some of the characteristic strength of the horse, and did not mean that you would walk around smelling like a horse. Horses are known to run in races, running faster and faster to win the race. Thus it makes you like a horse in terms of giving you more physical and mental stamina to perform your best in life. When you have this kind of strength and stability you will be more successful in winning your races throughout your life.

I use Ashwagandha a lot in my practice to support and strengthen the thyroid gland. It protects it from the side effects of the cortisol that we release when we’re under stress.

Many people might not know this but whenever we see patients with Vitiligo we usually see weakness of the thyroid gland at the same time. And Ashwagandha has a secondary use to treat vitiligo as well. Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks the melanin or the pigment cells of the skin, leaving white patches around the body. Stress creates these autoimmune toxins and again Ashwagandha is the best herb for dealing with stress. As a sidetone here we of course use the primary herbs used to treat Vitiligo in my practice, but Ashwagandha is recommended as an adjunct herb as well.

But here’s the caveat: In Ayurveda we look at what happens after the herb comes into the body, which is different from here in the West where we just look at the action of the herb. It turns out that Ashwagandha pacifies Vata and Kapha, both of which create coldness in the body. Ashwagandha’s effects on the body are that it is ushna or hot. If you have more pitta in the body then this herb will aggravate the inherent heat that is already built up in your body. 

In addition, its virya or overall property is hot and acidic and its vipak or post digestive effect is pungent. So this herb then can generate significant amounts of heat in the body.

Now in this day and age, what the ancient doctors couldn’t have foreseen is that our liver and blood are holding on to many environmental toxins, pharmaceuticals, and toxins from processed foods, all of which create heat in the body. So nowadays we have to be very careful with herbs used in Ayurveda such as Ashwagandha which are very hot in nature and can heat up the stomach, the liver, the skin, all of which are areas governed by Pitta dosha.

But my teacher and mentor Vaidya Rama Kant Mishra figured out a way to get herbs like Ashwagandha into people who already have a lot of heat or Pitta aggravation in their bodies. He developed two methods of taking the herbs using just the intelligence of what the herb does leaving behind the physical crude herb. He made herbal memory nectar drops and transdermal creams, neither of which will heat up the body since the side effects of the hot herb will not be there — only what is known as the prabhava, or the effect of what that herb does remains and goes immediately into all the gaps and cellular system of the body without going through the digestive tract, heating up the liver and stomach along the way.

I mention this here as a cautionary note. Everything we swallow has to be processed by the liver and again, in modern times just about every patient I see has too much heat circulating in the liver due to all the hot toxins being filtered by the liver everyday. 

This means that in about 90% of the patients that I see who are taking the crude herb, which means the tablet or powder or tea of Ashwagandha, I usually take them off that and use our vibrational versions.

This is especially the case when treating autoimmune diseases since one of the many contributing factors we see with autoimmune diseases is overheating of the liver. 

So whenever I have a patient who has Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease of the thyroid gland, I immediately take them off the crude herb of Ashwagandha onto our transdermal creams or herbal memory nectar drops. Otherwise the crude herb will flare up the heat in their liver and actually work against their attempts to heal the autoimmune disease.

So please keep this in mind about Ashwagandha. Yes, sooner or later most of us will need it to help us run all the races we encounter in this modern life, but most of us will not be candidates for the tablets and teas of Ashwagandha which will definitely heat up the liver, stomach, blood and the other areas commonly affected by heat.

Thank you,

Dr. Marianne Teitelbaum



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