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Ashwagandha VS Shatavari, Holy Basil, Valerian Root, Melatonin & CBD

Ashwagandha, Shatavari, Holy Basil, Valerian Root, Melatonin, and CBD are currently some of the most popular herbal remedies used for managing stress, anxiety, and sleep disorders. While most of these substances carry their own unique health benefits, some may be more effective than others for certain conditions - and some may also carry some factors you'd need to consider for your personal situation.

The natural supplement world can be a pretty confusing place. With more and more products being released and promoted by scientists, and celebrities alike, it's hard to know which ones you should be taking.

I don't profess to have any of the answers for your specific situation, but what I will do in this article is present the key facts and figures for some of the most talked about options right now so you can make your own deeper investigations into what might be the best option for your needs.

Let's get into it.

Set of Ashwagandha hand drawn patterns with berries, lives, roots and branch in black color on white background. Retro vintage graphic design Botanical sketch drawing

Ashwagandha VS Shatavari Root, Holy Basil, Valerian Root, Melatonin & CBD - Key Comparisons:

Before diving deeper into each individual herb, this table gives a high-level view of the key differences and effects of the substances discussed in this article. This information comes from a mix of traditional uses and what is currently available in scientific literature, keeping in mind that clinical studies are still very limited and in their infancy for alternative medicines in general.

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Supplement Pros Cons Best used for
Ashwagandha Adaptogenic, may help with stress, anxiety, sleep, inflammation, naturally increasing testosterone Some known side effects, may interact with certain medications Managing stress, anxiety, insomnia, inflammation, increasing muscle mass
Shatavari May help balance female hormones, reduces PMS symptoms, supports lactation May interact with certain medications, allergic reactions Managing menstrual irregularities, menopause symptoms, lactation support
Holy Basil May reduce stress and anxiety, improve blood sugar control May lower blood pressure, may interact with certain medications Managing stress and anxiety, blood sugar control
Valerian Root Can improve sleep quality, may reduce anxiety and stress May cause dizziness and headaches, may interact with certain medications Managing insomnia, anxiety, and stress
Melatonin Can improve sleep quality, may alleviate jet lag and shift work sleep disorder May cause daytime drowsiness, may interact with certain medications Managing insomnia and sleep disorders
CBD Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anxiolytic properties, may improve sleep quality May cause mild side effects, may interact with certain medications Managing pain, anxiety, and inflammation

Ashwagandha

Root Withania somnifera, known commonly as ashwagandha, Indian ginseng, poison gooseberry or winter cherry

Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera, is an adaptogenic herb that has been traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine to improve overall health and vitality. In a modern context, ashwagandha is most commonly used to help manage stress, anxiety, and insomnia. It is also believed to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that may help to protect against chronic diseases.

This is a supplement I have cycled for many years to take advantage of ashwagandhas many different benefits. If you're interested in trying ashwagandha yourself, I recommend you check out our best ashwagandha supplements page to compare a few different brands that we've used and recommend.

Pros:

Ashwagandha has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety levels, improve sleep quality, and enhance cognitive function. It may also help to reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol levels.

Cons:

Some people may experience mild side effects such as upset stomach, diarrhea, and nausea. Ashwagandha may also interact with certain medications such as sedatives, thyroid hormone replacement therapy, and immunosuppressants.

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Shatavari

Shatavari, or Asparagus racemosus, is a species of asparagus native to India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. It's been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine for its various medicinal properties. Shatavari is considered an adaptogen, helping the body cope with physical and emotional stress. It's often used for reproductive health, particularly in females, due to its purported benefits in balancing hormones and enhancing fertility. Additionally, it is used for digestive issues, immune support, and overall vitality.

Recent studies have indicated some interesting results to support these claims, however, are still very limited in their size and scope.

Pros:

Shatavari has been indicated to have estrogenic effects, which may help to regulate menstrual cycles and alleviate menopause symptoms. It may also improve digestion and boost immunity.

Cons:

Shatavari may cause mild side effects such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea. It is not recommended for use during pregnancy and is still quite poorly understood through a modern scientific lens.

Holy Basil

Holy Basil in the cup

Holy basil, also known as Tulsi, is a plant native to India and Southeast Asia. It's been used for centuries in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for its diverse healing properties. Holy basil is believed to act as an adaptogen, a natural substance that helps the body adapt to stress and promotes mental balance. It's often used for anxiety, stress, and inflammation, and it has also been used to treat conditions like the common cold, headache, stomach disorders, and heart disease.

It has been a highly revered medicinal herb throughout the centuries and many clinical studies are also finding favourable and promising results - revealing numerous potential benefits with very limited side effects observed.

Pros:

Holy Basil has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety levels, improve mood, and enhance cognitive function. It may also help to lower blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels.

Cons:

Very few known issues - Holy Basil may cause mild side effects such as an upset stomach in a very small number of users.

Valerian Root

Valerian Roots on a wooden table (detailed close-up shot)

Valerian is a perennial flowering plant native to Europe and parts of Asia, known for its medicinal properties. Its roots are often used to produce a supplement that is widely recognized for its potential benefits on sleep and relaxation. Valerian root is believed to interact with the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) system in the brain, helping to reduce anxiety and promote calmness. It's commonly used in herbal medicine to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders, anxiety, and stress, although the research supporting these uses is mixed.

Valerian has become very popular as a sleep aid and is currently the most widely used herbal sleep supplement across both the United States and Europe.

Pros:

Valerian Root has been shown to reduce anxiety levels, improve sleep quality, and promote relaxation. It may also help to alleviate menstrual cramps and digestive issues.

Cons:

Valerian Root may cause mild side effects such as headache, dizziness, and upset stomach. It may also interact with certain medications such as sedatives and anticonvulsants and leave some users with a lingering drowsiness.

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Melatonin

White medicine or supplement capsules on white background

Melatonin is a hormone that your body produces naturally, primarily by the pineal gland in the brain, and it plays a crucial role in regulating sleep-wake cycles. Its production is influenced by the detection of light and dark by the retina of the eye. When it gets dark, more melatonin is produced, helping to facilitate sleep, and production decreases with light exposure upon waking.

Melatonin supplements are commonly used to manage sleep disorders such as insomnia and jet lag, however, some recent evidence suggests it may actually have detrimental effects on natural sleep cycles and the regulation of other hormones (e.g. testosterone).

Pros:

Melatonin may help to improve sleep quality, reduce jet lag symptoms, and alleviate certain types of headaches.

Cons:

Melatonin may cause mild side effects such as headache, dizziness, and upset stomach. It may also interact with certain medications such as blood thinners and immunosuppressants as well as have longer-term detrimental effects on sleep cycles and hormone regulation.

CBD

CBD has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anxiolytic properties, which may help to manage chronic pain, anxiety disorders, and other health conditions. It may also help to improve sleep quality and alleviate symptoms of epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of over a hundred chemical compounds known as cannabinoids found in the cannabis or marijuana plant, Cannabis sativa.

Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), another well-known cannabinoid, CBD is not psychoactive, meaning it doesn't cause the "high" associated with cannabis use. Instead, CBD is often used for its potential therapeutic effects. It's been studied for its role in easing symptoms of various health issues, such as anxiety, depression, pain, and certain neurological disorders. CBD can be taken in several ways, including inhalation, orally as a capsule or oil, or topically as a cream or lotion.

A number of studies indicate a wide array of potential health benefits however despite its growing popularity, research is ongoing to fully understand the safety and efficacy of CBD, and regulations around its use can vary widely by location.

Pros:

CBD has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anxiolytic properties, which may help to manage chronic pain, anxiety disorders, and other health conditions. It may also help to improve sleep quality and alleviate symptoms of epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.

Cons:

CBD may cause mild side effects such as fatigue, dry mouth, and changes in appetite. It may also interact with certain medications such as blood thinners and anti-seizure drugs. CBD products may also vary in quality and potency, which can make it difficult to determine the appropriate dosage.

Comparing Ashwagandha with other substances

When comparing Ashwagandha with other substances, it is important to consider the specific health conditions that each substance is best suited to manage. For example, Shatavari may be more effective than Ashwagandha for managing menstrual irregularities and menopause symptoms, while CBD may be more effective for managing insomnia.

In my personal experience, ashwagandha stands out as a versatile adaptogenic herb that can help to manage a range of health conditions, including stress, anxiety, insomnia, and inflammation. It is also generally safe and well-tolerated, with mild side effects that are uncommon.

We have a series of other articles comparing ashwagandha with some other popular herbal remedies, so if you'd like to keep seeing how it stacks up again some of the other titans of the natural world, click the links below:

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Final Thoughts:

Overall, Ashwagandha, Shatavari, Holy Basil, Valerian Root, Melatonin, and CBD are all useful herbal remedies that can help to manage a range of health conditions. Each substance has unique health benefits and potential side effects that should be considered before use.

All of these substances have been used in a traditional medical context for decades, centuries and even millennia. Modern science is finding some promise for most if not all of them, however, all would benefit from further research to help uncover the mechanisms behind the benefits that humans have celebrated for generations.

When comparing Ashwagandha with other substances, it is clear that it is a versatile adaptogenic herb that can help to manage multiple health conditions. However, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before using any herbal remedy, especially if you are taking medications or have a pre-existing health condition.

Darcy Ogdon-Nolan

Holding a Bachelor Of Science (Hons.) combined with close to a decade now in the health food and wellness industry, I believe I'm uniquely positioned to provide a depth of knowledge and first-hand experience on emerging health products, trends and ideas! From greens powders and medicinal mushrooms through to protein powders and workout nutrition - I'm particularly interested in what modern science can uncover about what human cultures have been using to treat ailments for millennia!

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