There’s no doubt that no matter what is going on in the world, there will be times when we feel stressed out. Fortunately, adaptogens, botanicals with special properties can help reset and rebalance emotional and physical states and help keep us resilient every day. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is one of them.
Known in Ayurvedic practice as a Rasayana herb, invigorating the body and mind, ashwagandha has a long history in India and southern Asia, and has captured the attention of researchers around the world in recent decades.
One of the ways ashwagandha (and other adpatogens) work is by regulating the actions of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis, cortisol levels, and various proteins associated with inflammation.
This clinical study found that ashwagandha helped participants better resist the effects of stress, in effect inoculating a person against the most severe effects of stress. The result was better sleep, less perceived stress, and lower cortisol levels in the ashwagandha groups.
If stress feels like it’s setting the agenda for your life, consider adding ashwagandha to your daily regimen. It can help strengthen you for challenging days, every day.
Salve J, Pate S, Debnath K, Langade D. Adaptogenic and Anxiolytic Effects of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Healthy Adults: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Clinical Study. Cureus. 2019 Dec 25;11(12):e6466. doi: 10.7759/cureus.6466. PMID: 32021735; PMCID: PMC6979308.
Background: Stress, anxiety and impeded sleep are a frequent feature of life in modern societies. Across socio-economic strata, stress, anxiety and ineffective sleep detract from healthful living and serve as precursors of various ailments. The use of herbs to offset these antecedents and outcomes has greatly increased in recent years. Ashwagandha, an adaptogenic Ayurvedic herb, has been often used to combat and reduce stress and thereby enhance general wellbeing. While there have been other studies documenting the use of Ashwagandha for stress resistance, this is the first study to use a high-concentration root extract while also varying the dosage substantially. Therefore, this is the first study to offer insight into dose-response of a high concentration root extract.
Material and methods: In this eight-week, prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, the stress-relieving effect of Ashwagandha root extract was investigated in stressed healthy adults. Sixty male and female participants with a baseline perceived stress scale (PSS) score >20 were randomized to receive capsules of Ashwagandha extract 125 mg, Ashwagandha extract 300 mg or identical placebo twice daily for eight weeks in a 1:1:1 ratio. Stress was assessed using PSS at baseline, four weeks and eight weeks. Anxiety was assessed using the Hamilton-Anxiety (HAM-A) scale and serum cortisol was measured at baseline and at eight weeks. Sleep quality was assessed using a seven-point sleep scale. A repeat measures ANOVA (general linear model) was used for assessment of treatment effect at different time periods. Post-hoc Dunnett's test was used for comparison of two treatments with placebo.
Results: Two participants (one each in 250 mg/day Ashwagandha and placebo) were lost to follow-up and 58 participants completed the study. A significant reduction in PSS scores was observed with Ashwagandha 250 mg/day (P < 0.05) and 600 mg/day (P < 0.001). Serum cortisol levels reduced with both Ashwagandha 250 mg/day (P < 0.05) and Ashwagandha 600 mg/day (P < 0.0001). Compared to the placebo group participants, the participants receiving Ashwagandha had significant improvement in sleep quality.
Conclusion: Ashwagandha root aqueous extract was beneficial in reducing stress and anxiety.
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