Ashwagandha: The Adaptogen That Preserves Memory

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a powerful adaptogen that helps the mind and body overcome exhaustion, stay resilient in the face of stress, and may even help preserve memory and enhance mental processing speed.

Previous laboratory studies with the herb have shown that it protects brain cells from injury, preserves coordination and the brain’s processing ability – even when sleep deprived – and increases levels of glutathione, an important natural antioxidant.

This clinical study found that ashwagandha may help slow the decline of memory and mental functions as people get older. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, adults in the ashwagandha group showed enhanced memory, better focus, and improved mental speed after just eight weeks. 

Abstract:

Choudhary D, Bhattacharyya S, Bose S. Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal) Root Extract in Improving Memory and Cognitive Functions. J Diet Suppl. 2017 Nov 2;14(6):599-612.

Objectives: Cognitive decline is often associated with the aging process. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal) has long been used in the traditional Ayurvedic system of medicine to enhance memory and improve cognition. Aim: This pilot study was designed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of ashwagandha (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal) in improving memory and cognitive functioning in adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). 

Methods: A prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was conducted in 50 adults. Subjects were treated with either ashwagandha-root extract (300 mg twice daily) or placebo for eight weeks. 

Results: After eight weeks of study, the ashwagandha treatment group demonstrated significant improvements compared with the placebo group in both immediate and general memory, as evidenced by Wechsler Memory Scale III subtest scores for logical memory I (p = 0.007), verbal paired associates I (p = 0.042), faces I (p = 0.020), family pictures I (p = 0.006), logical memory II (p = 0.006), verbal paired associates II (p = 0.031), faces II (p = 0.014), and family pictures II (p = 0.006). The treatment group also demonstrated significantly greater improvement in executive function, sustained attention, and information-processing speed as indicated by scores on the Eriksen Flanker task (p = 0.002), Wisconsin Card Sort test (p = 0.014), Trail-Making test part A (p = 0.006), and the Mackworth Clock test (p = 0.009). 

Conclusions: Ashwagandha may be effective in enhancing both immediate and general memory in people with MCI as well as improving executive function, attention, and information processing speed.

Here is the link to the full study: Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal) Root Extract in Improving Memory and Cognitive Functions

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Terry is happy to provide his opinion on diet and nutrition, supplements and lifestyle choices. This information is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the advice of your physician and is not to be considered medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Should you have any concerns please contact your physician directly.

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