Ashwagandha root, also called Withania somnifera, has been used in the Ayurvedic culture in India as a natural remedy for stress, insomnia, loss of memory, debility, nervous exhaustion, and to enhance cognitive function (Candelario M, et al., 2015). The connection between Ashwagandha root and stress makes sense that it just might help those who suffer from anxiety. In Candelario M, et al.’s study on this roots link to treating anxiety, they found that the main components that are within the root have a great role in medicines used to treat general anxiety disorders, sleep disturbances, muscle spasms, and seizures.
Ashwagandha has also been known to substantially decrease the level of cortisol, a stress hormone in the body (Bongiorno, 2014). Cortisol is very evident in those who experience anxiety and a large amount of this hormone is not healthy at all to the brain. In the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, a study was published describing a group of individuals taking a placebo while the other took Ashwagandha for 60 days. In the end, the researchers had the participants take three different psychological assessments that each had to do with stress (the General Health Questionnaire-28, the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale, and the Perceived Stress Scale) – the higher the number the participant received on the assessments, the more stressed they are. The group who took the Ashwagandha had overall lower scores for each assessment with a 72% drop in both the General Health Questionnaire-28 and the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale and a 44% drop on the Perceived Stress Scale (Chandrasekhar, et al., 2012).
Not only does Ashwagandha root work well for anxiety, but it some cases Ashwagandha can be just as effective, if not better, than anxiety medications. In Phytomedicine, a study was published that compared an anxiety medication, Ativan, to Ashwagandha. One group of rats received the Ativan and the other the Ashwagandha. The results concluded that each group had the same calming effect… the Ashwagandha produced the same result as the Ativan. With that being said, Ativan is known to have many side effects and can be addictive, whereas Ashwagandha has not proved to have any side effects or addictiveness (Sanders, 2014).
So if you are struggling with anxiety and want a more natural aid, Ashwagandha might just be a perfect fit for you.
Candelario M, Cuellar E, Reyes-Ruiz JM, Darabedian N, Felmeng Z, Milledi R, Russo Neustadt A, Limon A. (2015, August 2). Direct Evidence for GABAergic Activity of WIthania Somnifera on Mammalian Ionotropic GABAA and GABAp Receptors. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26068424
Bongiorno, Peter. (2014, January 8). Ashwaganda for Anxiety: Ancient Herbal Remedy for Modern Life Stress. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/inner-source/201401/ashwaganda-anxiety
Chandrasekhar, K., Kappor, J., Anishetty, S. (2012). A Prospective, Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of a High-Concentration Full-Spectrum Extract of Ashwagandha Root in Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Adults. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine. 34(3), pp. 255-262.4.
Sanders, K. (2014, February 3). Ashwagandha Can Cure Insomnia and Anxiety. Retrieved from: https://www.naturalhealth365.com/0887_ashwagandha.html
https://www.naturalhealth365.com/0887_ashwagandha.html (Sanders, 2014)