Science-backed benefits of Ashwagandha part 1
Have you ever wondered about the science backing the myriad benefits of Ashwagandha? As this ancient root garners increased attention and popularity in our health-conscious world, it becomes crucial to sift fact from fiction amidst the deluge of wellness supplements around us.
Why the buzz around Ashwagandha, you ask? This powerful root, renowned for its therapeutic benefits, does more than just help improve sleep, alleviate stress, and regulate hormones. Indeed, the magic of Ashwagandha runs deeper than what meets the eye.
So, buckle up! Join us on this riveting voyage as we peel back the layers and unearth the profound secrets of this potent, time-honored root.
An Effective Natural Solution for Insomnia and Anxiety
Insomnia, a pervasive sleep disorder, affects the health and well-being of a significant portion of the population. Characterized by difficulties in falling asleep, interrupted sleep, and poor sleep quality, insomnia can evolve from a sporadic problem to a persistent issue. This sleep disorder often leads to severe health complications such as anxiety and depression.
Traditional treatments exist, including pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy, but they come with their own set of drawbacks. From unwanted side effects to a dependency risk, these treatments can be less than ideal. Furthermore, the shortage of trained therapists for cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) limits its accessibility. This situation has created a demand for alternative treatments, directing attention towards herbal medicinal practices. One such promising alternative that has been explored extensively is Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal), a traditional Ayurvedic herb.
Recently, a comprehensive study on Ashwagandha’s potential for addressing insomnia and anxiety was conducted. This double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study spanned eight weeks and involved 80 participants (comprising both healthy individuals and insomnia patients). The researchers utilized actigraphy, a device-based sleep monitoring system, to collect detailed data and gain in-depth insights into sleep pattern variations.
The primary goal of the study was to evaluate Ashwagandha’s impact on sleep quality in healthy subjects and insomnia patients, compared to a placebo, over an eight-week period. Primary outcomes centered on sleep onset latency, with secondary measures including total sleep time, sleep efficiency, total time in bed, wake after sleep onset, and mental alertness on rising.
The intention of this research was to determine the safety and efficacy of Ashwagandha in promoting sleep and reducing anxiety levels.
The study showed that both healthy and insomnia-stricken subjects experienced significant improvements in sleep parameters after supplementing with Ashwagandha root extract. Astonishingly, the improvement was more substantial among insomnia patients. The parameters analyzed included Sleep Onset Latency (SOL), sleep efficiency, Total Sleep Time (TST), and Wake After Sleep Onset (WASO). Statistical analysis confirmed a significant enhancement in these metrics, with SOL and sleep efficiency exhibiting the most remarkable improvement.
Furthermore, outcomes of the Hamilton Anxiety scale (HAM-A), which assesses anxiety severity, showed notable enhancement, as did measures of mental alertness and sleep quality. These results, when compared to baseline values, demonstrated statistically significant improvements, excluding HAM-A and mental alertness scores in the healthy subject group.
In conclusion, the study underscores Ashwagandha root extract’s potential in enhancing sleep quality and managing insomnia. Importantly, the extract was well tolerated by all participants, regardless of their health status or age, making it a promising candidate for further research. While these findings are encouraging, additional clinical trials are required to generalize these outcomes. However, this research shines a light on the promising future of natural, plant-based solutions to health issues like insomnia that affect so many globally.
Ashwagandha can also impact stress – here is what research has to say about it
Stress and anxiety are common experiences for most people. In fact, about 70% of adults in the US report feeling stress or anxiety daily. While these feelings are natural responses to our busy, often demanding lives, chronic stress and persistent feelings of anxiety can have serious impacts on our mental and physical health. There are various approaches to managing stress and anxiety, and natural remedies are increasingly sought after. One such natural remedy that is garnering interest is ashwagandha.
Recent research has shed light on the beneficial effects of ashwagandha, particularly its potential in alleviating stress and anxiety. A study conducted with mildly anxious, healthy adults, who consumed an extract of ashwagandha (named Shoden) for two months, showed significant emotional improvements over time. Compared to a placebo, the ashwagandha group saw a more significant reduction in anxiety levels, as measured by the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAM-A).
Furthermore, the participants who took ashwagandha showed a greater decrease in morning cortisol and DHEA-S levels – both of these are hormones closely tied to our body’s stress response. Interestingly, the study also suggested that ashwagandha might contribute to an increase in testosterone levels, especially in men, although these changes were not statistically significant. Importantly, ashwagandha was found to be well-tolerated with minimal to no reported side effects or significant changes in blood and lipid levels.
When assessing the mood-enhancing effects of ashwagandha, it was noted that the participants’ anxiety levels reduced by a striking 41%. This was a substantial improvement compared to a 24% reduction in those taking a placebo.
Although the study observed improvements in depressive, anxiety, and stress symptoms as per the DASS-21 scale (a self-report measure of these symptoms), the results weren’t statistically significant. Despite this, the study aligns with previously published research, attesting to the positive effects of ashwagandha on stress and mood.
The study also shed light on how ashwagandha might work to combat stress. One theory is that ashwagandha might reduce activity in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis – a system that plays a significant role in our body’s response to stress. Decreasing the activity of this system might lower our body’s reaction to stressors.
Another interesting study was made recently that involved 60 volunteers (37 males and 23 females) between the ages of 18 and 65 who completed the full trial. Analysis of the results indicated that anxiety levels, measured by HAM-A, decreased by 41% in participants taking ashwagandha, compared to a 24% reduction in the placebo group. Furthermore, the DASS-21 scores, which measure depressive, anxiety, and stress symptoms, showed a positive improvement of 30% in the ashwagandha group, versus a 10% improvement in the placebo group.
The study also examined the impact of ashwagandha on hormonal changes. The findings indicated a significant 23% reduction in morning cortisol levels (a stress hormone) in the ashwagandha group compared to a negligible 0.5% increase in the placebo group. Similarly, the intake of ashwagandha was associated with an 8% reduction in DHEA-S (a steroidal hormone), compared to a 2.5% increase in the placebo group.
Interestingly, testosterone levels showed a positive trend in the ashwagandha group with an increase of 11% observed over time, especially in males. However, the testosterone change between the ashwagandha and placebo groups did not reach statistical significance.
In conclusion, ashwagandha, a natural herb with a long history of use in traditional methods, is showing promise in modern scientific studies as a potential tool in our stress and anxiety management toolkit. While more research is always beneficial, the signs are positive and the benefits might be substantial.
That wraps up part one of our blog series. We’ll be back next month with part two, where we’ll delve into the impact of Ashwagandha on thyroid function, hormones, and much more. Stay tuned!