Ashwagandha for Anxiety
Managing anxiety can often seem like a formidable task. It has a myriad of causes, it varies based on the individual, and there’s definitely not one catchall solution. But, with the right plan in place, getting anxiety levels down is completely feasible.
An important component of anxiety management is being intentional about what you put in your body. While a healthy diet is a huge part of this, supplements can have a huge impact on your anxiety levels. In this article, we explore the adaptogen ashwagandha and how you can use Ashwagandha to reduce feelings of anxiety.
What is Ashwagandha?
The name Ashwagandha translates to “smell of the horse” in Sanskrit, denoting its strong smell and strength-increasing abilities. Its botanical name is Withania Somniferia.
Native to India and North Africa, ashwagandha is a medicinal plant that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for over 3000 years and is specifically classified as an adaptogen. Adaptogens are a classification of plants - mainly herbs & mushrooms - that help our body maintain homeostasis and adapt to stressors.
The bio-active chemicals (i.e. the chemicals that are responsible for the medicinal properties) in ashwagandha are called withanolides. The more withanolides there are, the stronger the effects.
Ashwagandha for Anxiety
Withanolides in ashwagandha have been shown, in clinical research, to have effects ranging from decreasing inflammation and lowering blood sugar to reducing cortisol levels and decreasing subjective feelings of anxiety.
The negative effects of stress and anxiety can take a serious toll on your body. One of the physiological effects of stress is an increase in the hormone cortisol. While cortisol has important responsibilities in the body and its regulation, a prolonged increase in cortisol levels can have largely negative effects on the mind and body.
Ashwagandha has shown in multiple studies to decrease levels of cortisol in the body. One randomized, controlled study conducted in 2006 showed that ashwagandha resulted in a 30% decrease in cortisol levels. This shows a promising ability of ashwagandha to biologically lower stress.
Further studies have measured the effects of continuous ashwagandha use on anxiety levels. One such study conducted was conducted in 2012 with 64 participants. After administering ashwagandha (and a placebo for the placebo group) for 60 days, subjects given ashwagandha showed a 69% reduction in anxiety levels (compared to a 10% reduction by the placebo group). Another study showed significant differences between the control and non-control group in general mental health, concentration, fatigue, and overall quality of life.
Overall, there have been numerous studies showing the positive effects ashwagandha can have on stress, anxiety, and general mental health. However, these studies also show it’s important to take Ashwagandha correctly.
Safety of Ashwagandha
Although ashwagandha is widely recognized as an adaptogen, and therefore generally safe to consume, there are a few cases when one should avoid taking ashwagandha. You should avoid consuming ashwagandha if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, if you have an autoimmune disease, or if you are on medication for thyroid disease. In all of these cases, you should consult your healthcare provider before adding ashwagandha to your diet.
How to Take Ashwagandha
As mentioned earlier, withanolides are the bio-active chemical in ashwagandha, and thus it is important to consume ashwagandha with a high concentration of withanolides, for maximum effectiveness.
The dosage is also very important. An effective dose of Ashwagandha ranges from 250mg-500mg per day (1-3 times per day). It is fine to take it in either the morning, or night, but if you want some of the sleep-aiding benefits, taking it at night could be the best option for you.
If ashwagandha sounds like something you might be interested in adding to your anxiety-management plan, we would recommend taking our quiz and describing your current anxiety levels. Our ingredients are selected for their high potency (i.e. high withanolides), and we make sure to put at least 250mg of Ashwagandha in each serving.