Ashwagandha is a herb and a popular supplement. It provides neuroprotection, anti-cancer effects, enhanced virility, and can even stave off anxiety.
Withania Somnifera, commonly known as Ashwagandha, is an herb used in Ayurveda medicine. Ashwagandha means ‘Smell of Horse,’ which refers to the fresh root’s distinct horsey smell, and the traditional belief that ingesting the herb will confer the strength and virility of a horse.
Ashwagandha is an Adaptogen. It is supplemented primarily for its ability to prevent anxiety. Ashwagandha’s anti-anxiety effect is even synergistic with alcohol. It also shows promise for relieving insomnia and stress-induced depression.
Ashwagandha can significantly reduce cortisol concentrations and the immunosuppressive effect of stress. Beyond reducing stress levels, Ashwagandha can improve physical performance in both sedentary people and athletes, as well as reduce Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Ashwagandha can improve the formation of memories, and may be able to treat Alzheimer’s disease, though more human evidence is needed before supplementation can be recommended specifically for Alzheimer’s. More research is needed to determine Ashwagandha's main mechanism.
Ashwagandha is traditionally recommended for cancer patients. It is important to note that there is no human evidence for Ashwagandha’s ability to treat cancer. It is, however, a great supplement to reduce immunosuppression.
It can also ease the pain of chemotherapy treatment by greatly reducing stress and fatigue. Ashwagandha should not be used for cancer treatment, but it makes a great adjuvant therapy, meaning it can and should be taken alongside other treatments.
* If you are experiencing severe fatigue and brain fog, it’s likely stress. Chronic or severe stress can disguise itself in many ways. Including feeling abnormally fatigued. You find that you are not sleeping well. Or don’t feel rested and refreshed when waking up in the morning. Even after taking a sleeping pill. Many report a rapid change in energy and motivation as soon as they take Ashwagandha. Others won’t feel the effects for a couple of weeks before relief sets in. You’ll know Ashwagandha is working when you wake up in the morning feeling refreshed. And eagerly looking forward to starting your day.
* As an anti-anxiety aid users say they feel their self-confidence has been restored. Your speech will feel more fluid and easier, especially in public settings. No more panic attacks.
* Depression, even if it’s not professionally diagnosed, can destroy your life. Ashwagandha users say it is the best anti-depressant they’ve ever used. Their energy is restored, motivation is back, and they’re able to focus.
Ashwagandha works on many levels in the brain. Cortisol levels are stabilized. And the damage to your brain begins to correct itself. Acetylcholine levels rise so you’re able to think clearly again.
Neurons get repaired, and cognition and memory return to levels you experienced when you were younger. And GABA receptors are re-activated producing a calming effect.
Researchers at Asha Hospital in Hyderabad, India did a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial with 64 subjects who had a history of chronic stress. The study group took a 300 mg capsule of full-spectrum Ashwagandha root twice a day for 60 days.
Follow up calls to participants were done on the 15th, 30th, 45th and 60th day of the trial. Researchers reported serum cortisol levels were substantially reduced.
The report concluded “that a high-concentration full-spectrum Ashwagandha root extract safely and effectively improves an individual’s resistance towards stress and thereby improves self-assessed quality of life”.
One study done in a lab in India subjected laboratory mice to electroconvulsive shock treatment. Or were given scopolamine to induce amnesia (memory loss).
Both sets of mice were given Ashwagandha extract daily after the shock or chemical treatments. Ashwagandha extract restored their memory and motor skills.
Scientists did a study on rats to compare Ashwagandha with the popular benzodiazepine anti-depressant lorazepam (Ativan). And the tricyclic anti-depressant imipramine (Tofranil).
Researchers gave the rats either Ashwagandha, lorazepam or imipramine. 30 minutes later they put the rats through a maze, had them interacting socially, and even forced them to swim.
Ashwagandha is available as a powder, capsules, tincture and tea. The root and berry of the plant are used. The ground root of the herb is used as the base of an Ashwagandha supplement.
Active ingredients of Ashwagandha include Alkaloids, Saponins, and with Anolides. Look for the percentage of active ingredients listed on the bottle or package. Typically, you’ll see something like “standardized to X% of withanolides”.
The lowest effective dose for acute usage of Ashwagandha, and perhaps the most cost-effective dose, is 300-500mg.
You can safely take up to 750 mg of Ashwagandha extract daily if needed. Most get all the benefit they need with 500 mg. Dosed 250 mg in the morning, and another 250 mg early afternoon.
The optimal dose appears to be 6,000mg a day usually divided into three doses (2,000mg) and while 300-500mg is effective for most situations a lower dose of 50-100mg can be seen as effective in few instances such as reducing the immunosuppression seen with stress and augmenting anxiolytic (anxiety reducing agents).
Ashwagandha root extract is the preferred form of Ashwagandha, for the purposes of supplementation. Ashwagandha should be taken with meals. If taken once a day, it should be taken with breakfast.
To learn more about Ashwagandha: