Ashwagandha, also known as the king of Ayurvedic herbs or Withania somnifera, has recently been gaining attention as users vouch for its stress and anxiety relieving benefits.
While the anecdotal evidence for this mighty adaptogen is looking rather good, what does the research say?
We’ll break it all down for you today.
What is Ashwagandha?
Before discussing the benefits of Ashwagandha, it’s important to establish the origins of this ancient medicinal herb.
Native to the Indian subcontinent, this herb’s uses can be dated back to 6000 BC (1). The root of the shrub was traditionally used in Ayurveda as a rasayana herb, meaning it is believed to promote rejuvenation, youthfulness, and longevity (2). One of the earliest written records of herb is found in the ancient Indian medical texts- the Charaka Samhita (3).
Ashwagandha was also mentioned for its effects on health in both ancient Greek and Persian texts. The renowned physicist- and father of early modern medicine- Ibn Sina discussed the herb’s benefits on medical conditions (such as osteoarthritis) in his Canon of Medicine (4).
It is needless to say that Ashwagandha was revered across the globe for its healing effects in ancient times.
However, now that we have the technology to really study these health claims, it’s important to revisit the question: Does ashwagandha have any health benefits?
Based on comprehensive research, we are delighted to confirm that ashwagandha indeed offers a multitude of health benefits. Our ancestors' timeless wisdom proves true, as this remarkable herb holds incredible potential for enhancing well-being.
Ashwagandha Benefits for Stress and Anxiety
Today, ashwagandha is widely recognised and utilised for its stress and anxiety-relieving potential. While anecdotal evidence abounds, we’re happy to share the extensive research which consistently supports these claims.
A double-blind controlled placebo trial was conducted on 60 adults. Researchers found that the individuals who consumed ashwagandha expressed significantly lower stress levels after just 4 and 8 weeks (5). The participants also had lower levels of serum cortisol- the hormone associated with stress- compared to the control group. The study concluded that ashwagandha was “considerably effective” in treating stress and anxiety.
Another study conducted noted that participants who consumed the adaptogen were expressing significantly lower levels of anxiety (according to their standardised testing methods) when compared to the control group (6). While its exact mechanism of action is not yet known, the study hypothesises that the effects may be due to ashwagandha’s modulation of the HPA axis- the body’s hormonal response to stress.
This was echoed by another human trial which concluded, “Ashwagandha root extract safely and effectively improves an individual’s resistance towards stress and thereby improves self-assessed quality of life” (7). And while we’ve mentioned some of the noteworthy studies, there are lots of others that are drawing the same conclusions.
The growing body of scientific research strongly supports the remarkable potential of ashwagandha as a natural remedy for stress. With multiple studies consistently demonstrating its effectiveness in reducing stress levels and alleviating anxiety, ashwagandha offers a promising solution for those seeking relief from the burdens of modern life. Its ability to modulate the body's hormonal response to stress, coupled with its overall positive impact on quality of life, underscores the profound implications of this ancient herb in promoting well-being in today's stress-laden world.
Ashwagandha Anti-Inflammatory Benefits
Research now suggests that there’s more to this incredible herb than its stress and anxiety relieving benefits. Human trials reveal ashwagandha’s potent anti-inflammatory effects, offering potential benefits for conditions ranging from arthritis to heart issues.
In one trial with 98 adult participants, the subjects were administered ashwagandha over 60 days and compared to a placebo group (8). Results highlighted a significant reduction in C-reactive protein-an inflammatory marker- in the ashwagandha group when compared to the placebo.
Another study conducted on human cells highlighted ashwagandha’s ability to inhibit the expression of inflammatory proteins, thereby reducing inflammation in the body (9).
Ashwagandha Benefits for Sleep
The root herb has also long been associated with its effects on improving sleep and quality of sleep. The benefits of ashwagandha for sleep have now been backed by a plethora of studies, which is great news for insomnia sufferers!
One double-blind, placebo controlled study assessed the effects of ashwagandha on 80 healthy and insomniatic adults (10). Remarkably, improvement in sleep quality was noted in both healthy and insomniatic adults within just 8 weeks.
Another noted the same effects, with healthy adults reporting a significant increase in sleep quality after just 6 weeks of ashwagandha consumption (11).
These high quality studies are echoed by various anecdotal accounts, as many users boast about ashwagandha’s benefits to relieve insomnia and improve sleep quality.
If you find yourself struggling with sleep deprivation, ashwagandha can be a natural remedy worth considering. It has shown promising potential in helping to ease your path into the enchanting realm of dreams.
Ashwagandha Benefits for Mental Health Conditions
Besides stress and anxiety, ashwagandha has been shown to alleviate the symptoms of certain mental health conditions.
In one study, patients with schizophrenia were administered ashwagandha over 12 weeks (12). Results highlighted decreased symptoms of anxiety and depression in these patients, signifying the herb’s potential efficacy in easing certain mental health symptoms.
Another trial was conducted on adults diagnosed with chronic stress, which found that ashwagandha significantly reduced the patients’ stress levels (13).
While the emerging research indicates that ashwagandha could serve as a supplementary treatment for certain mental health conditions, it's crucial to note that the current evidence is limited. If you’re struggling with mental health problems, please do seek the advice of a professional. They will be able to help.
Scientifically Proven: Ashwagandha for Stress Management
In conclusion, we’ve found that ashwagandha is more than just an anecdotal remedy; it is a scientifically-backed, nature-derived ally in the pursuit of a balanced and stress-free life.
The findings listed from numerous studies provide compelling evidence of ashwagandha's efficacy in stress and anxiety relief, demonstrating its ability to enhance well-being.
Its benefits for sleep disorders and inflammation are also definitely worth nothing!
Embrace the enchantment of ashwagandha and discover the transformative potential of this awe-inspiring herb. May it empower you on your quest for balance, vitality, and inner harmony in the midst of life's challenges.