We live in a world that is always in a rush. Which is why it makes sense that anxiety is the top mental illness suffered by those in the United States. It affects some 40 million adults in America, essentially making it an epidemic1.
Many people look for a solution to anxiety but it is not easy to come by. After all, there are many different factors that can lead to anxiety or be a part of it. What might be surprising to you is that the answer may have been with us all along: Ashwagandha.
Ashwagandha has been used in Ayurvedic for thousands of years. It was a traditional treatment for a lack of energy, aging, and anxiety2. It was also used for inflammation and infections3. When an individual is healthy, Ashwagandha may work as a body tonic to improve strength and well-being.
It is harvested from the root of the Ashwagandha Bush3. It is a hardy plant, that is able to survive in both hot and cold temperatures. It can also grow at higher altitudes of up to 4900 feet.
Can Ashwagandha Help With Anxiety?
Ashwagandha is considered adaptogenic and can help to balance hormones that are associated with anxiety. If you are feeling fatigued or burnt out, it can give you energy and also suppress certain hormones that can stimulate when you are feeling stressed. It is a depressant for the central nervous system, allowing you to relax and get necessary sleep.
There may be a number of naturally occurring phytochemicals found in Ashwagandha that could be associated with the effect on your hormones. Some of those include alkaloids and lactones. Combined, they are part of the withanolides group that can act as precursors to hormones and regulate both your relaxation response and your stress levels.
Is There Clinical Evidence For Ashwagandha Benefits?
In 2012, 64 volunteers diagnosed with anxiety were involved in a study in which they were either taking Ashwagandha or a placebo for two months. By the time the trial ended, the Ashwagandha treatment group showed a considerably lower level of anxiety. They also had 28% lower levels of cortisol, which is the stress hormone4.
Along with feeling less stress, they also showed improvements in other difficulties that included insomnia, social dysfunction, depression, and productivity.
This is significant for a number of reasons. Since the cortisol levels were measured clinically, it provided proof that it is more than a subjective improvement in anxiety levels.
The drop in elevated cortisol also benefits our bodies through a domino effect. When cortisol levels are high, it can produce stress and long-term fatigue along with influencing our memory and emotions. The last thing we need is too much exposure to cortisol!
Another study took place in 2009 that included people who had moderate to severe anxiety3. They were provided with either Ashwagandha or psychotherapy. Ashwagandha also ended up being more effective with up to a 50% improvement in anxiety over psychotherapy.
Additional studies have been done that show Ashwagandha can assist individuals with stress-related fertility problems, adrenal hyperplasia, and agoraphobia. It may also benefit those who are dealing with the aging process or a low sex drive by balancing out the emotional and chemical stressors on the body5.
In a literature review, it showed that the most high-quality studies associated with the anti-anxiety benefits of Ashwagandha showed that it worked a lot better than a placebo. The report also had a warning that study methodologies have been considerably different so more research is needed.
A Quick Summary
According to historical records, those who used Ashwagandha in ancient times often did so to fight stress and fatigue. Science still makes similar claims and shows that the results are quite promising for those who are dealing with those issues today.
In the end, Ashwagandha could provide some assistance if you are stressed out and leading a fast-paced, anxiety filled life.
References: 1. https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics, Anxiety And Depression Association Of America: Facts & Statistics 2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/inner-source/201401/ashwaganda-anxiety, Ashwaganda for Anxiety, Jan 08, 2014 3. http://www.naturalhealth365.com/0887_ashwagandha.html, Ashwagandha can cure insomnia and anxiety, February 3, 2014 4. https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/stress-anxiety/ashwagandha-benefits-ease-stress-and-anxiety-by-44-percent/, Ashwagandha Benefits: Ease Stress and Anxiety by 44 Percent, JUL 23, 2018 5. https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/7-amazing-benefits-of-ashwagandha-root-for-women/, 7 Amazing Benefits of Ashwagandha Root for Women, February 27, 2015