Ashwagandha herb and root extract health benefit and use for stress
reduction, anxiety treatment and relaxation, Withania somnifera plant research studies
March 7 2014
Ashwagandha is an herb used in Ayurvedic medicine for a number of health conditions. Known by the botanical name withania somnifera, it is a popular medicinal plant in South East Asia and Southern Europe. Many people use this herb for general vitality, although the effects are not similar to ginseng. Rather than providing restless energy as does ginseng, ashwagandha often causes relaxation.
Withania somnifera is widely considered as the Indian ginseng. In Ayurveda, it is classified as a rasayana (rejuvenation) and expected to promote physical and mental health, rejuvenate the body in debilitated conditions and increase longevity. Ashwagandha is used to treat a number of disorders that affect human health including central nervous system (CNS) disorders, particularly in epilepsy, stress and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disorders, tardive dyskinesia, cerebral ischemia, and even in the management of drug addiction. The most useful usage is to reduce stress and perhaps aid in sleep. However, if you take a high dosage or a concentrated extract, you may not notice the relaxation effect as much.
Purchase Ashwagandha root
herbal product 500
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This herb is used as a general tonic and "adaptogen," helping the body adapt to stress.
Amount Per Capsule:
Ashwagandha root 500 mg per pill
Ashwagandha root supplement, Mind Power Rx for
Dosage and products sold over the counter
A typical dose of ashwagandha is about 500 mg to 1,000 mg of the powder. If the ashwagandha product you have purchased is an extract, such as a 2 to 1 extract or 5 to 1 extract, then your dosage would be lower. It is not possible to know which product will work for you best unless you try it.
Suggested Use: As an herbal dietary supplement, take one ashwagandha capsule a few times a week. This herb, in some individuals, may cause drowsiness. Others who are restless or anxious may feel relaxation but no drowsiness.
Different products available in health food stores and online
I am writing to see if you can help me to understand the different kinds of ashwagandha herb products. I am very confused. I want to take the herb because I suffer from insomnia. I fall asleep straight away, then, I wake up between 3 am to 4 am unable to go asleep again. I am a woman living in Australia, 70 years old. I do not take any prescription medications. I suffer from macular degeneration derived from a brain tumor that was operated 2 years ago. I have a healthy lifestyle.
Ashwagandha is sold as plain powder in capsules. It is also sold in higher potencies such as a 2 to 1 extract or 5 to 1 extract. The higher the potency, the lower dosage you would take. It is also sold by some companies that list the percentage of withanolides, the active ingredients. Some products say 1.5 % withanolides, others say 3%, and there are higher percentages. Rather than being overly concerned about the different products on the market, choose one and start with lower amounts and increase the dosage to the point where it starts giving you benefits. Ashwagandha is not the best supplement for sleep, there are more effective ones such as melatonin, 5HTP, tryptophan, passion flower and hops.
Withania somnifera, Winter Cherry, 250 mg per capsule
Withania powder 500 mg per capsule
Root extract (standardized to min 4.5% total withanolides) 450 mg per capsule
Withania somnifera root has withanolides along with beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol, beta-sitosterol glucoside, stigmasterol glucoside, and alpha+beta glucose. Some of the withanolides include withaferin.
Side effects, risk,
Short term ashwagandha side effects include sleepiness and drowsiness. However, some products may cause alertness. There appears to be some variations in effects between different products on the market. This may be due to the dosage, extract potencies, or manufacturing and processing differences.
There have not been enough human studies to know the full extent of ashwagandha side effects if used daily for months or years.
Ashawagandha does not appear to be an effective herb for depression.
Assessing depression following two ancient Indian interventions: effects of yoga and ayurveda on older adults in a residential home.
J Gerontol Nurs. 2007; Krishnamurthy MN. Division of Life Sciences, Swami Vivekananda Yoga University, Bangalore, India.
The effects of yoga and ayurveda on geriatric depression were evaluated in 69 persons older than 60 who were living in a residential home. Participants were stratified by age and gender and randomly allocated to three groups: Yoga, Ayurveda, or Wait-list Control. The 15-item Geriatric Depression Scale was used to assess depressive symptoms prior to the intervention, and after 3 months and 6 months post-intervention. Participation in one of the three groups lasted 24 weeks. The yoga program (7 hours 30 minutes per week) included physical postures, relaxation techniques, regulated breathing, devotional songs, and lectures. The Ayurveda Group received an herbal preparation twice daily for the whole period. The depression symptom scores of the Yoga Group at both 3 and 6 months decreased significantly, from a group average baseline of 10 to 8 and 6, respectively. The other groups showed no change. Hence, an integrated approach of yoga including the mental and philosophical aspects in addition to the physical practices was useful for institutionalized older persons.
Brain and nerve protection
Phytother Res. 2014 Jan 23. Blood-Brain Barrier Permeability of Bioactive Withanamides Present in Withania somnifera Fruit Extract. The neuroprotective effect of Withania somnifera L. Dunal fruit extract, in rodent models, is known. Withanamides, the primary active constituents in W. somnifera fruit extract exhibited neuroprotective effects against β-amyloid-induced cytotoxicity in neuronal cell culture studies. Therefore, we investigated the blood-brain barrier permeability of withanamides in W. somnifera fruit extract in mice using HPLC coupled with high resolution quadrupole time of flight mass spectrometer (Q-TOF/MS) detection. Mice were administered with 250 mg/kg of W. somnifera extract by intraperitoneal injection, and the blood and brain samples analyzed by Q-TOF/MS detection. Four major withanamides were detected in brain and blood of mice administered with W. somnifera extract. The results suggested that the withanamides crossed the blood-brain barrier. These results may help to develop W. somnifera fruit extract as a preventive or therapeutic botanical drug for stress-induced neurological disorders.
Diabetes and metformin
Amelioration of metformin-induced hypothyroidism by Withania somnifera and Bauhinia purpurea extracts in Type 2 diabetic mice.
Phytother Res. 2009. Jatwa R. Endocrine Research Unit, School of Life Sciences, Devi Ahilya University, Indore, M.P., India.
An investigation was carried out to reveal the possible ameliorative role of two plant extracts on an antidiabetic drug-induced hypothyroidism in Type 2 diabetic animals. Oral administration with either Withania somnifera or Bauhinia purpurea extract along with dexamethasone and metformin elevated the concentrations of circulating T(3) and T(4) to euthyroid level. The plant extracts also corrected RR ratio and serum concentration of lipids. Our findings reveal that the evaluated plant extracts have a potential to ameliorate metformin-induced hypothyroidism in Type 2 diabetic subjects.
Effect of extract of Withania Somnifera on dehydration-induced oxidative stress-related uremia in male rats.
Saudi J Kidney Dis Transpl. 2010; Samanta TT, Samanta P. Department of Physiology, Raja N. L. Khan Women's College, Midnapore, Dist: Paschim Medinipur, West Bengal, India.
Dehydration or water deprivation in the body decreases urinary excretion and allows urea and other protein waste products to accumulate in the blood. The aim of the present study is to evaluate the association of uremia and oxidative stress by applying the herbal plant Withania somnifera. The study was performed on male Wister strain rats in which, dehydration was achieved by water withdrawal. Dehydration-induced oxidative stress was established in our study by noting the low activities of super-oxide dismutase and catalase, both important antioxidant enzymes, in Group-2 animals; both enzymes were stabilized in animals of Groups-3 and 1. In conclusion, it is hypothesized that there is an antioxidative role of W. somnifera resulting in reducing the extent of renal injury as a result of oxidative stress.
In vitro studies
Immune modulation and apoptosis induction: Two sides of antitumoural activity of a standardised herbal formulation of Withania somnifera.
Eur J Cancer. 2009. Malik F, Kumar A, Bhushan S, Sharma R, Khajuria A, Suri KA, Qazi GN. Division of Pharmacology, Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research), Canal Road, Jammu, India.
We report in this study a chemically standardised herbal formulation of Withania somnifera possessing anticancer and Th1 immune up-regulatory activities. Withania somnifera produced cytotoxicity in a panel of human cancer cell lines in vitro. The molecular mechanism of cell cytotoxicity was investigated in HL-60, where it induced apoptosis by activating both intrinsic and extrinsic signalling pathways. It induced early generation of reactive nitrogen and oxygen species (RNOS), thus producing oxidative stress mediated mitochondrial membrane potential loss leading to the release of cytochrome c, the translocation of Bax to mitochondria and apoptosis-inducing factor to the nuclei. Withania somnifera also activated caspase-8 through enhanced expression of TNF-R1 and DR-4, suggesting also the involvement of extrinsic pathway of apoptosis. Withania somnifera at 150mg/kg, i.p., inhibited >50% tumour growth in the mouse tumour models. In tumour-bearing mice, Withania somnifera inhibited the expression of pStat-3, with a selective stimulation of Th1 immunity as evidenced by enhanced secretion of IFN-gamma and IL-2. In addition, Withania somnifera also enhanced T cell activation in camptothecin treated tumour-bearing mice. WSF being safe when given orally up to 1500mg/kg to rats for 6 months may be found useful in the management of malignancy by targeting at multiple pathways.
Withania somnifera: a novel source of L-asparaginase.
J Integr Plant Biol. 2009; Oza VP, Trivedi SD, Subramanian RB. BRD School of Biosciences, Sardar Patel University, V V Nagar (Gujarat), India.
Different parts of plant species belonging to Solanaceae and Fabaceae families were screened for L-asparaginase enzyme. Among 34 plant species screened for L-asparaginase enzyme, Withania somnifera L. was identified as a potential source of the enzyme. This is the first report for L-asparaginase from W. somnifera, a traditionally used Indian medicinal plant.
Interactions with medications
I am taking clonazepam 0.5 mg for last 12 years as I can not work w/o taking it. I was diagnosed with GAD. If I take ashwagandha, I feel drowsiness. Can I take both if yes, please suggest suitable dose so that we can get rid of clonazepam, Klonopin. Also let me know about side effects if we take both ashwagandha and clonazepam.
Each person is different in their response. There are different brands with different extract potencies so it is difficult to be precise with dosages, each brand may provided different sedation or other effects and the same product may give different effects in different people. Not everybody responds the same way to a medication or supplement. One option is to begin with low dosages, which could even be half of a capsule.
Use with natural supplements
Bacopa monnieri - Ashwagandha can be taken in the evening while bacopa monnieri pills are taken in the morning.
CDP Choline - The herb can be taken in the evening while bacopa pills are taken in the morning.
Forskolin or coleus forskohlii - Withania can be taken in the evening while forskolin pills are taken in the morning.
Valerian root - Ashwagandha root can be used together with valerian herb.