Ashwagandha Anxiety Relief Remedy

Ashwagandha Anxiety Relief Remedy That Works, True Or False?

Ashwagandha anxiety relief remedy is an effective, powerful and side-effect free herb to know about. In addition to anxiety relief, Ashwaganda is useful for sleep, acne, hypothyroidism, PCOS, arthritis, sexual health and more. It has anxiolytic, stress-relieving, neuro-protective properties which help to foster a healthy mental environment.

It effectively improves an individual’s resistance towards stress. Daily intake of 1-2 grams of Ashwagandha powder with lukewarm milk helps anxiety sufferers reduce involuntary stress reactions and return to a state of calm.

Anxiety In Ayurveda

Anxiety, born of fear and desire falls under the general heading of ‘insanity’ (Unmada) in Ayurvedic medicine. The Ayurvedic sage Sushruta described insanity (Unmada) as ‘a derangement of bodily Doshas affecting the up-coursing nerves and thereby producing a distracted state of mind (Manas)’.1 The cause of this derangement of the upper-body Doshas is some form of fear and desire which has established itself in the mind (Manas) of the individual.

Anxiety is characterized as an invasion by Vata, in the mind (manas) and nerves. Ayurvedically speaking, anxiety is a dosha imbalance where excess Vata accumulates in the nervous system. Vata imbalances manifest as insomnia, fear, changing thoughts and feelings, restlessness, weight loss, tremors, hopelessness and over-stimulation. The primary type of Vata involved in anxiety are Prana Vata and Vyana Vata.

Prana Vata is responsible for the movement of life force (prana) and it governs the human body. This Prana is only responsible for connecting body, mind and spirit altogether. Its impairment in acute anxiety results in a disconnected individual whose has altered mind, senses and memory function.

Vyana Vayu is located in the center of the heart. It is the initiator of all actions and movements inside the body. Vyana vayu is responsible for the circulation of substances in the body to activate muscular movements and to initiate mental activities. A person suffering from aggravated Vyana vata reveals an over-abundance of disorganized, inefficient Vata dosha.

Ashwagandha is the best remedy for anxiety.

The treatment of anxiety is really the treatment of Vata. Ayurveda has a very important principle of treatment… ‘like increases like and a remedy of opposites is beneficial’.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), also known as Indian ginseng , is a wonderful herb mention in ancient Ayurveda classical texts for its mind relaxing effects. It has the opposite properties of Vata dosha. It is light and unctuous, hot in potency and has a sweet post digestive effect. It pacifies Vata and Kapha dosha (Vatakaphahara) and in addition to that, acts as a rasayana (rejuvenative), balya (increases strength) and vajikarana (improves sexual and reproductive health).2,3,4

Ashwagandha is a nervine tonic.

Ashwagandha is revered in the Indian Ayurvedic system of medicine as a rasayana (tonic). It is used for various kinds of disease processes and especially as a nervine tonic.5

Ashwagandha replacies your body’s vital reserves, helping your body adapt to stress as an adaptogen, and strengthening your body’s systems, such as the nervous system and the adrenals. It has antioxidant effects and helps in nervous disorders, anxiety, stress, hypertension, sleep disorders, dizziness and lack of concentration. It helps in neurotic regeneration and synaptic reconstruction.6

This herb is known for its immunomodulatory and central nervous system (CNS) effects.7 It is well known for its anti-fatigue and anti-stress activity.8 Its anxiolytic activity is also well reported.9

Clinical studies on animals and humans also have found that ashwagandha is an adaptogen. That is, it makes the body adapt to stress. It is indispensable in treating various central nervous system (CNS) disorders, particularly epilepsy, stress and neurodegenerative diseases.10

Components Responsible For Ashwagandha’s Anti-Anxiety Effects

Ashwagandha contains alkaloids, steroidal and saponin chemicals which are essential for its activity in the hormonal pathways in the body system. It supports overall functions of the endocrine system and so it helps in hormonal balance.11 It corrects the imbalance between the immune and neuroendocrine systems to normalize the bodily functions under stressful conditions by targeting the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal gland axis.12

Sitoindosides and acylsterylglucosides in Ashwagandha are anti-stress agents. Active principles of Ashwagandha, sitoindosides VII-X and Withaferin-A, have been shown to have significant anti-stress activity.13

Anxiety disorder often occurs with depression and for both conditions, stress is the major culprit.

Ashwagandha prevents stress, anxiety and depression by reducing the stress hormone by up to 28%. The stress hormone, cortisol, is the foremost public health enemy. Elevated levels of cortisol interfere with learning and memory power, lowers immune function and bone density, and increases weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and rate of heart disease.

High cortisol brings down levels of other hormones and mood-lifting neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. The stress caused by high levels of cortisol may contribute to changes in dietary behaviors. It slows down metabolism which leads to weight gain and then it starts affecting your mood and brain function. If chronic stress is not treated, it gives rise to anxiety and depression.

Ashwagandha can help you cope with stress. It reduces levels of serum cortisol which is elevated in stressful conditions.14 In a study on people suffering from chronic stress, it was found that Ashwagandha root could bring down the cortisol levels by 28% in just 2 months. It improved the symptoms of stress and in some cases even prevented stress.15

Another study showed that Ashwagandha root extract raised dopamine levels.16 Ashwagandha also has neuroprotective properties. It relaxes frayed nerves and tones the central nervous system to enhance tolerance to stress.17

Ashwagandha helps one cope with anxiety and depression.

1. Ashwagandha reduces severe depressive symptoms by 68%.

In a human study, patients having chronic stress took 300 mg capsules of Ashwagandha or a placebo (a substance without any medicinal value) twice daily for 2 months. The participants were then asked to answer three questionnaires they had also filled out at the beginning of the study. The difference in their scores was remarkable.18

Patients who were part of Ashwagandha group showed reduction in symptoms of chronic stress. Reduction in the severity stress score was 44%, physical symptoms score was 76.1%, anxiety and insomnia score was 69.7%, social dysfunction score 68.1% and severe depressive symptoms score 79.3%.

The findings from the research suggest that a high concentration of Ashwagandha root extract improves an individual’s resistance towards stress and thereby it improves self-assessed quality of life. It further came to the conclusion that a concentration of full-spectrum Ashwagandha root extract can be used safely as an adaptogen in adults who are under stress.

People who took Ashwagandha had fewer physical symptoms of anxiety and depression, felt calmer and slept better. Their productivity also increased.

2. It’s an effective remedy for insomnia caused by stress, anxiety and depression.

In the studies it is observed that Ashwagandha helps the body to face a stress-related condition rather than masking it with sedatives. It has a pronounced and positive rejuvenating effect on the nervous system. This in turn eases stress and helps the body settle back into its normal state and sleep.19

It acts like a GABAergic drug, binding to GABA receptors. It produces calming, anti‐anxiety, anti‐convulsive, highly‐stabilizing effects. Excessive neuronal activity leads to restlessness and insomnia, but GABA in the brain inhibits the number of nerve cells that fire, and helps to reduce anxiety, uplift mood, and induce sleep.20

3. It has anti-anxiety effects and acts as a mood stabilizer.

In studies conducted on rats, Ashwagandha acted as a mood stabilizer and had an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects on rats suffering from anxiety and depression. Its effect was comparable with that of diazepam, a standard anxiolytic drug. It was also seen that the sub effective dose of Ashwagandha significantly increased anxiolytic effects of diazepam.21

In other studies it was also observed that Ashwagandha induces a calming anxiolytic effect that is comparable to the drug Lorazepam in all three standards. Ashwagandha also exhibits an antidepressant effect, comparable with that induced by imipramine.22

4. It works better than psychotherapy.

In a study, patients with mild to severe anxiety were given a naturopathic treatment that included Ashwagandha, a multivitamin, dietary counselling, and cognitive-behavioural therapy. This seemed to have greater effect than standard psychotherapy alone.23

5. It manages body weight in chronic stress.

In a research study on 52 patients having chronic stress it was found that taking 300 mg of Ashwagandha twice daily for 4 weeks reduced weight along with food craving. The outcome of this study suggests that Ashwagandha root extract can be used for body weight management in adults under chronic stress.24

It does not have any side effects and withdrawal symptoms. Even at higher doses Ashwagandha is well tolerated, with little side effects. A study suggests 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. It was also noted that even when the patients abruptly stopped taking it at the end of the test period, none of them reported any withdrawal symptoms.25 Ashwagandha is a powerful nervine tonic that is safe to take for long-term use and is not associated with any adverse effects.

This preliminary research has pointed toward Ashwagandha’s adaptogenic potential but more trials and research are needed to establish its role as a stress reliever.

References
1 P.V.Sharma,Sushruta ,Sushruta Samhita Volume 3 Uttartantra ,Chapter 62 page no 604, Chaukhambha Visvabharti, 2014.
2 API 2001: The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India, Part I, Volume I, 1st edition.
3 Khare CP. Indian Herbal Remedies: Rational Western Therapy, Ayurvedic and Other Traditional Usage, Botany. New York (NY): Springer; (2004)
4 Khory RN, Katrak NN. Materia Medica of India and Their Therapeutics. Delhi  (India):
KomalPrakashan; (1999).
5 Narendra Singh ,An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda, Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2011; 8(5 Suppl): 208–213.Published online 2011 Jul 3. doi: 10.4314/ajtcam.v8i5S.9 PMCID: PMC3252722.
6 Tomoharu Kuboyama, Chihiro Tohda and Katsuko Komatsu et al. Neuritic regeneration and synaptic reconstruction induced by Withanolide-A. British Journal of Pharmacology cited in April 2005; 144(7): 961–971.
7 Ghosal S, Lal J, Srivastava R, Bhattacharya S.K, Upadhyay S.N, et al. Immunomodulatory and CNS effets of Sitoindosides IX and X, Two new Glycowithanolides from Withania somnifera Phytotherapy Research, 1989; 3(5) : 201-6.
8 Bhattacharya S.K, Goel R.K, Kaur R, Ghosal S,et al .Anti-stress activity of Sitoindosides VII and VIII, new Acylsterylglucosides from Withania somnifera Phytotherapy Research, 1987, 1(1) :32-7.)
9 Bhattacharya SK, Bhattacharya A, Sairam K, Ghosal et al. Anxiolytic activity of Glycowithanolides from Withania somnifera. Phytomedicine: International journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology cited in December 2000; 7(6):463-9
10 Kulkarni, S. K., and Ashish Dhir. “Withania somnifera: an Indian ginseng.” Progress in neuro-psychopharmacology and biological psychiatry 32, no. 5 (2008): 1093-1105.
11 Bhattacharya SK, Bhattacharya A, Sairam K, Ghosal S. Anxiolytic-antidepressant activity of Withania somnifera glycowithanolides: an experimental study. Phytomedicine, 7: 463-469 (2000)
12 Verma SK, Kumar A. Theraputic uses of Withania Somnifera (Ashwagandha) with a note on withanoloids and its pharmacological actions. Asian J Pharma Clin Res. 2011;4(1):1–5
13 Bhattacharya SK, Goel RK, Kaur R, Ghosal S. Anti – stress activity of Sitoindosides VII and VIII. New Acylsterylglucosides from Withania somnifera. Phytother Res. 1987; 1:32–37. [Ref list] 14 Auddy B, Hazra J, Mitra A, Abedon B, Ghosal S. A standardized Withania somnifera extract significantly reduces stress-related parameters in chronically stressed humans: A double-blind, randomized
15 K. Chandrasekhar, Jyoti Kapoor, and Sridhar Anishetty, “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 (2012): 266-262. doi:10.4103/0253-7176.106022.
16 KSM-66 Ashwagandha: The High-potency, Full Spectrum Ingredient for Stress Relief, Energy, Cognition and Immunity Anand V. Bodapati, Ph. D. UCLA Anderson School Advisor, Ixoreal Biomed
17 Bhattacharya SK, Bhattacharya A, Sairam K, Ghosal S. Anxiolytic-antidepressant activity of Withania somnifera glycowithanolides: an experimental study. Phytomedicine, 7: 463-469 (2000)
18 Chandrasekhar, K., Jyoti Kapoor, and Sridhar Anishetty. “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, no. 3 (2012): 255.
19 Umadevi, M. “Traditional and medicinal uses of Withania somnifera.” The Pharma Innovation 1, no. 9 (2012).
20 KSM-66 Ashwagandha: The High-potency, Full Spectrum Ingredient for Stress Relief, Energy, Cognition and Immunity Anand V. Bodapati, Ph. D. UCLA Anderson School Advisor, Ixoreal Biomed
21 Gupta, Girdhari Lal, and Avtar Chand Rana. “Protective effect of Withania somnifera dunal root extract against protracted social isolation induced behavior in rats.” Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 51, no. 4 (2007): 345-353.
22 Abdel-Magied EM, Abdel-Rahman HA, Harraz FM,The effect of aqueous extracts of Cynomorium coccineum and Withania somnifera on testicular development in immature Wistar rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2001 Apr; 75(1): 1-4.
23 Cooley, Kieran, Orest Szczurko, Dan Perri, Edward J. Mills, Bob Bernhardt, Qi Zhou, and Dugald Seely. “Naturopathic care for anxiety: a randomized controlled trial ISRCTN78958974.”PLoS One 4, no. 8 (2009): e6628
24 Choudhary, Dnyanraj, Sauvik Bhattacharyya, and Kedar Joshi. “Body Weight Management in Adults Under Chronic Stress Through Treatment With Ashwagandha Root Extract: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial.” Journal of evidence-based complementary & alternative medicine 22, no. 1 (2017): 96-106.
25 Andrade, Chittaranjan, Anitha Aswath, S. K. Chaturvedi, M. Srinivasa, and R. Raguram. “A double-blind, placebo-controlled evaluation of the anxiolytic efficacy of an ethanolic extract of withania somnifera.” Indian journal of psychiatry 42, no. 3 (2000): 295.

mm
Mallika Varma, holds a bachelor’s degree, B.A.M.S. from State  Ayurvedic college and Hospital, Lucknow and a postgraduate degree M.S. in Kshara Sutra Avum Anushastra Karma from Sri Venkateswara Ayurvedic College, Tirupathi. She brings more than 7 years of experience in the field of Ayurveda.  She is specialized in Ayurvedic general surgery, parasurgical procedures (Kshara Jalauka, Siravedhyan, Agni Karma) and in the treatment of anorectal disorders. She is also experienced in the treatment of gastro, respiratory, genitourinary, skin and lifestyle disorders through natural herbal medicine, Yoga and Panchkarma. She has participated in many national and international seminars in the field of Ayurveda and has also presented best awarded papers on Ayurveda.

5 comments

  1. Hi, I have used Ashwagandha because my doctor recommended it, in a very stressful part of my life. It helped tremendously. But after 4 months of taking 0.3gr. daily (evening), when I tried to stop, after 2 weeks all my symptoms were back. I felt weak and very emotional, anxious, slept poorly etc. So I continued. My doctor said it’s OK. But it’s now 8 months taking it everyday and I wonder/worry about any side effect of taking ashwagandha for such a prolonged period of time. Do you have any information you could share around long-term intake of this herb? Thank you so much.

    • mm

      Hi Marie, Ashwagandha in doses as prescribed by your doctor should be safe and should not have major withdrawals. Always take supplements under the supervision of a health care provider/practitioner. You may ask your doctor if it would be good to taper down the dose of Ashwagandha rather than stopping it abruptly and go as per the advice.

  2. I am firm believer in ayurveda, had healed my l5/S1 disc injury through a series of Ayurvedic treatment over a period of 2 weeks and other herbs which has healed my lower back after spending so much on Physio and chiro
    Now my issue is high level of anxiety I do mediate/ do yoga on regular basis
    I have always had IBS which sets in on/ off
    Last year I came down with high anxiety and took help of ayurveda had various combo treatments includes 6 days of shirodhra/ few pills doctor prescribed me includes Brahmi and Ashwagandha
    Yet I didn’t feel the major difference expect for my daily yoga/ mediation which kept me going. I felt great for 4 months
    Now again I have come down with anxiety
    I started Ashwagandha yet how long can I take this and will help me with unknown nervousness and fear my tummy holds
    Please help me doctor.
    If I was residing in Usa I would have visited you for sure for a through check up.

  3. isn’t there a way to get rid of the vata imbalance without the use of a pill which to me only blankets the cause with temporary relief. Ayurveda must teach a natural way of removing this anxiety thru changes made to ones life.

    • The Ayurveda Experience

      Hi Andrea,
      There are several ways that are helpful in managing vata imbalance which include proper diet and routine. These are especially indicated to correct a Vata imbalance. But I must assure you that Ayurvedic herbs work at the root cause of any health problem without causing any side effects, so that you can get rid of your problem permanently. Ayurvedic herbs do not merely give symptomatic relief. In fact they focus on the originating cause to cure the affected area and related systems of the body and help in improving overall health, as Ayurvedic herbs are natural substances.

      You can definitely include Ashwagandha in your daily routine without a doubt. It is a natural rejuvenator, adaptogen and possesses excellent anxiolytic activity without causing any side effect or any type of addiction, even if used for long term.

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