Stress is ubiquitous in our lives. Long-term stress can have many negative consequences for health: physical, mental and emotional. Ashwagandha and Rhodiola are herbs that are used to cope with stress and to solve other health problems.
Although they have some similarities, each herb has its own unique properties. As with all herbs, it is important to consult a qualified healthcare professional to determine if they are suitable and safe for us. This is especially important for people who take medications because of chronic diseases.
Ashwagandha, also known under the Latin name withania somnifera and the English name, winter cherry, is a plant from the nightshade family, which comes from the drier tropical regions of Southwestern Asia, Northern Africa and the Mediterranean.
Ashwagandha has been used for over 3,000 years in Ayurveda – the traditional system of Indian medicine – to increase energy, memory and endurance, as well as to relieve stress, weakness, insomnia, arthritis, asthma, reduced immunity, sexual problems and infertility. According to the University of Michigan, ashwagandha contains active compounds that are responsible for its therapeutic activity, especially in relation to inflammation, immunity, memory and stress.
Rhodiola rosea, also called golden root and arctic root, grows in the arctic and mountainous regions of Europe and Asia. It is a member of the Crassulaceae family. Rhodiola is popular in traditional medicine systems in Eastern Europe and Asia, where it is used to rejuvenate the nervous system, improve work results, reduce fatigue, reduce stress, reduce depression and increase fertility. Researchers attributes the healing properties of rhodioli to phenylpropanoids, derivatives of phenylethanol, flavonoids, monoterpenes, triterpenes and phenolic acids.
Similarities and differences
Both in the case of ashwagandha and rhodiola, it is the root that is used to make medicines. Both herbs are used by herbalists in the fight against stress and fatigue, support the nervous system, increase endurance and solve the problem of infertility. As part of scientific research, it has been identified that ashwagandha’s strongest therapeutic capabilities are to reduce pain and swelling of arthritis and to support the function of the immune system. The rhodiola’s distinctive scientific functions increase the body’s resistance to stress, increase physical endurance, reduce fatigue and anxiety. In addition to the main therapeutic applications, ashwagandha and rhodiola have unique therapeutic nuances –professional herbalists know such subtleties and can advise which herb is right for you.
Practitioners of herbal medicine usually do not experience the side effects of ashwagandha or rhodiola; however, because all herbs can have a strong effect on the body and can interact with drugs, they should be used under the guidance of a qualified specialist. Ashwagandha should also be avoided during pregnancy.
Peter Wallace has been an advocate for mental health awareness for years. He holds a master’s degree in counselling from the University of Edinburgh.