Ashwagandha is a powerful herb. In this week’s post, I share the hidden dangers in this adaptogenic herb.
I often hear my clients talk about “adrenal fatigue” and how they have to “fix” their adrenals. What I’ve discovered is that most people are confused about the true underlying cause of their adrenal fatigue or more accurately put, systemic oxidative stress.
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha, also known as winter cherry, is a powerful herb in Ayurvedic medicine. The herb grows in India, the Middle East, and northern Africa, and is in the same family as the tomato. Due to its increasing popularity in the west, it is now also being grown in North America.
Ashwagandha proponents claim this herb can be used to alleviate stress, fatigue, low energy, improve problems with learning and concentration, reduce anxiety, stabilize brain-cell degeneration, lower cholesterol, and reduce inflammation. This popular herb is being touted as a fantastic immune booster and superfood.
Ashwagandha and Fatigue
Ashwagandha is touted as a wonderful remedy for adrenal fatigue, but in my clinic, I see that adrenal fatigue is secondary to copper toxicity, undermethylation, pyrrole disorder, zinc deficiency, and systemic oxidative stress.
Many of our patients have admittedly tried various herbal remedies that they believe will enhance their recovery, but what I often see are negative symptoms associated with this powerful herb such as diarrhea, nausea, fatigue, depression, insomnia, and anxiety to name a few.
Ashwagandha is often called “Indian ginseng” because it is very energizing, but botanically speaking, ginseng and Ashwagandha are completely unrelated. I urge you to be careful about buying into marketing claims. Ashwagandha can do a lot of damage to folks with abnormal methylation issues and copper toxicity.
Does Ashwagandha Affect Hormones?
Hormone production needs a feedback mechanism. Hormone levels are not an indication of hormone activity. This is why we look at the methylation cycle. If this is not in balance, methylation disorders could hinder the optimal functionality of hormones, neurotransmitters, and feedback mechanisms that drive hormone production, especially those produced by the adrenal glands.
Proponents of Ashwagandha don’t understand the connection between elevated copper levels, methylation cycles, and adrenal fatigue. Hormone therapy, glandulars (such as desiccated glandular supplements), and/or herbal remedies may be problematic for you and may create adverse symptoms that can impair your progress, especially if you have a methylation disorder and/or copper toxicity.
This is because most adrenal supplements contain copper-carrying and stimulatory ingredients (such as organs and glands, and adaptogenic herbs) that can be detrimental to the methylation cycle.
Saliva-based adrenal stress index tests are the most common testing method to determine cortisol, DHEA, sex, and other hormone levels that impact energy production. Keep in mind that if your hormones are present but are not activated, then they are not doing their job even though they are present.
Ashwagandha and Adrenal Fatigue
The first question one should ask is “what’s causing my adrenal fatigue to begin with?“
Excess copper, elevated kryptopyrroles, and undermethylation are classic underlying causes of chronic fatigue. Copper is especially insidious as it causes an increase in norepinephrine while lowering dopamine, which puts stress on the adrenal glands, thus impairing hormone activity.
Our protocols for oxidative stress work at the root biochemical cause of your adrenal fatigue, making the need for potentially damaging herbal adaptogens unnecessary.
Have you had an adverse reaction to ashwagandha? If so, I’d love to hear your story in the comments below.
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