The adaptogenic herb is having its moment in the spotlight and is officially trending on TikTok, but why? Ashwagandha or “Indian ginseng” has been used for thousands of years to relieve stress, increase energy, and improve concentration. We speak to Nutritional therapist, Henrietta Norton about why it’s particularly effective for targeting stress in our skin…
“When we experience ‘stress’, in whatever guise this may be, our entire body responds – including our skin. The skin’s ability to moderate inflammation is compromised, and the availability of nutrients to the skin is affected, which leads to dry skin” explains Nutritional therapist, Henrietta Norton, co-founder, Wild Nutrition. “We also know that there is a shortening of our telomeres and reduction in collagen production when we are highly stressed: both of which are widely accepted as a sign of premature ageing.” Yikes. So what can we do about it?
Norton advises taking some medicinal mushrooms or the Indian herb ashwagandha to boost the immune system and the stress-response system, which can slow down the oxidative ageing processes.
KSM Ashwagandha has been studied for its ageing support – it has the ability to reduce the “shortening” of telomeres; shortened telomeres have been associated with increased cellular ageing which impacts the skin’s quality.
Norton also advises increasing your food grown vitamin and mineral intake. “Upping your omega oils may not be enough – a deficiency in magnesium can affect how well we use these oils. Eating a diet high in magnesium-rich green leafy vegetables or supplementing with a natural form of magnesium can really help”, she explains. “Green leafy vegetables are also rich in vitamin C and zinc – two important nutrients for forming collagen, the skin’s ‘trampoline’ – giving it that hydrated, plump look and feel. Deficiency in Vitamin A can lead to dry skin, psoriasis or rosacea, and therefore building in beta-carotenoid rich foods such as squash and carrots can improve your body’s stores”.
Another big tip – start taking hyaluronic acid. “The body’s production of natural Hyaluronic Acid, which keeps skin elasticised and hydrated, decreases with age – so supplementing becomes necessary”, she explains. “Unfortunately most HA supplements that promise skin support are using a medium or high molecular weight HA, which has a greater affinity for connective tissue around the joints, rather than the skin”.
We sort of guessed this one. “Prioritise your sleep. Poor quality of sleep affects cortisol release, DNA repair and insulin levels, all of which affect the quality of our skin. The most rejuvenating time to sleep is between 10.45pm and 6.45pm, but if you find it hard to fall into that deep sleep, consider supporting yourself with a magnesium supplement.