|Photo from Kyle at Hot Botany|
Feel familiar at all?
I have the pleasure of introducing you to withania.
Withania is a close friend that I reach for when going through those periods of being saturated with life’s chaos. Even delightful and pleasurable chaos can be exhausting! Withania, like tulsi, comes from India and holds a very esteemed place in Ayurvedic medicine. Its sanskirt name “ashwaganda” translates to “strength of a horse” and implies just that. It helps you to access your own inner reserves of strength so that you take the world on with sustained vigour. Lovely.
|From “Flora Graeca” 1819|
The beauty of withania is its gentleness and intelligence.
Just as it has a nourishing effect on the nervous and musculoskeletal systems, withania also nourishes the blood. Being iron rich (if grown in high quality soils), it promotes the formation of red blood cells, (very important for women whose diet is lacking in iron, have heavy periods and experience fatigue, foggy thinking and hair loss).
Withania also builds immune blood cells and gives them clear direction. Unlike many other immune stimulating herbs that are not recommended for autoimmune conditions (with the theory why strengthen the army that is attacking you?), withania is very useful for balancing the immune response and redirecting the war effort away from the self, and to actual immune threats. This also applies to allergies. It harmonises by imparting intelligence.
This plant is best taken over a long period of time to reap its benefits. Luckily it has a mild, sweet, earthy flavour with only the slightly hint of bitterness. It makes a great base to layer with aromatics (such as cardamom, cinnamon and star anise), smooth and fruity plants (such as vanilla and wood betony) and lighter florals (such as rose and lavender).
My favourite way to prepare withania however, which is such a luscious treat, is as a warm milky drink. Add 1/2 cup of your preferred milk to 1/2 cup of water with 1 tablespoon of withania, 2-3 cardamom pods crushed, and a pinch of saffron. Warm the milk until it is steaming. Pass through a strainer and add 1 teaspoon of rosewater and honey if you like. To be drunk before bed for a deep, restful sleep. It’s really worth a try.
This is a plant to consider incorporating into your life during particularly stressful periods such as deadlines, exams or periods where you reschedule is overflowing with work and/or family commitments. Withania will just gently lend you that bit more strength. I’m a tad in love.
About the Author
Naturopath Clara Bitcon is endlessly inspired by nature. Her days are mostly filled by following the curiosities nature ignites and using its wisdom to help people feel better. Her private practice is based in Melbourne, Australia and she runs a little herbal company conceived from a marriage between scientist, healer and artisan called Elm Botanicals.