Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) is a traditional ayurvedic medicine herb used in India for more than 3,000 years and is frequently referred to as “Indian Ginseng“. Ashwagandha has been investigated as an adaptogen, a class of natural plant agents that build non-specific resistance to various stressors. Withanolides are main constituents of this herb and play an significant role in ashwagandha’s overall ability to promote mental and physical health.
Ashwagandha and Anxiety
It is traditionally used for insomnia, age-related problems, impotence and mental fatigue. New researches reveal that Ashwagandha, can restore the neurotransmitters and hence can be beneficial in various mental disorders.
Ashwagandha,has important stress-relieving effects comparable to those of strong drugs used to treat anxiety and depression. A study done at the Department of Pharmacology, University of Texas Health Science Center indicated that extracts of Ashwagandha produce GABA-like activity, which may account for the herb’s anti-anxiety effects. The findings of a study reported in the Dec 2000 edition of Phytomedicine, found that its antidepressant effects were comparable with the prescription treatment imipramine.
In a study published in Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, ashwagandha was found to be as effective as diazepam for cases of anxiety and depression associated. In a trial, 30 patients suffering from anxiety neurosis were administered a dose of 40 ml per day for a month. The research concluded that most of anxiety symptoms, panic attacks and phobia were significantly relieved. Oral administration of ashwagandha for 5 days suggested anxiety-relieving effects similar to those achieved by the anti-anxiety drug Ativan, and antidepressant effects similar to those of the prescription antidepressant drug Tofranil. In a study reported in the Aug 2009 edition of the journal PLoS One, investigators found that ashwagandha was an effective and safe option to help alleviate anxiety.
In a study, scientists investigated the effects of a standardized extract of ashwagandha on the unfavorable effects of stress, including elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol. The participants demonstrated several measurable improvements, including a reduction of cortisol levels up to 26%. The Department of Neuropsychiatry and Geriatric Psychiatry at India’s Asha Hospital carried a randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study involving 64 participants with a history of chronic stress. The study group began supplementing with high-concentration, full-spectrum ashwagandha extract. After 2 months, the study group reported important improvements in all stress measurements and quality of life.