Ashwagandha is an herb used in Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India. Its root has a horsey smell in Sanskrit, ashva means “horse” and gandha means “smell”.
Various parts of the plant are used, but the most common in supplements is an extract of its roots. A number of studies suggest that it has anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects; studies are mostly supportive of a notable effect of ashwagandha for this purpose, and it seems to reduce cortisol levels. Other benefits include hormonal balance, virility and sexual health aid, depression and insomnia.