A few weeks ago a friend of mine mentioned that she was taking an herbal supplement called ashwagandha. I remembered having heard this strange word before, but couldn’t remember what it was exactly. It seemed to be vaguely associated in my mind with things like acai or chia seeds, different health fad type things. I was intrigued though so I asked her what it was supposed to be for. I was surprised when she told me that it was suppose to help you manage stress and cortisol levels. Was there really something out there for anxiety that I hadn’t found and tried already? She had piqued my interest.
Although I was hopeful, it seemed too good to be true. Before going out and getting any ashwagandha for myself, I decided to do some research. I was surprised to find I didn’t have to dig very hard to find actual scientific evidence from double blind studies that showed ashwagandha was better at lowering stress levels than a placebo. Here’s an excerpt from one such study:
The treatment group that was given the high-concentration full-spectrum Ashwagandha root extract exhibited a significant reduction (P<0.0001) in scores on all the stress-assessment scales on Day 60, relative to the placebo group. The serum cortisol levels were substantially reduced (P=0.0006) in the Ashwagandha group, relative to the placebo group. The adverse effects were mild in nature and were comparable in both the groups. No serious adverse events were reported…
The findings of this study suggest 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.K. Chandrasekhar, Jyoti Kapoor, and Sridhar Anishetty
Having read lots of research during my time at university, it is quite stunning to find any conclusions as strongly worded as this. I couldn’t believe my eyes. How had I not heard of this amazing substance before? Apparently it is an ancient medicinal herb that has been used for centuries in Eastern medicine. It seems like I’m going to have to invest in some literature on alternative eastern medicine given the amount of amazing stress relievers I’ve found involved in it recently like ashwagandha and acupressure.
Needless to say, I went out the next day and bought two bottle of ashwagandha supplements and began taking it with my other daily vitamins. It has only been around two weeks now since I’ve been taking it. The study I cited above allowed the participants to take the extract for two months before measuring stress levels. I’m unsure if this is significant or not. Some things take time before creating any noticeable effects. However, even after the first day, I felt a difference in my anxiety levels. At this stage it may just be due to the fact that I truly believe it is working. That does not, however, take away from the fact that it does have proven benefits.
I also want to briefly address the false information about this supplement circulating on social media sites. My sister came to me a few days ago saying I had to stop taking ashwagandha. She said that it has negative interactions with SSRIs which I also take for anxiety. She went on to tell a ludicrous tale about it frying your serotonin receptors, leading to a complete mental breakdown. I was alarmed, but highly skeptical. After a quick google search, I assured her that her fears were completely unfounded. There is no scientific evidence of ashwagandha having any negative interactions with SSRIs. So if you have happened to find this false information online, just know that antidepressents and other SSRIs won’t prevent you from also enjoying the benefits of this amazing plant.
I am overjoyed to have discovered this amazing new tool in my anti-anxiety arsenal. I am also happy to be able to share this information with as many people as I am able. If you are someone who suffers from stress or anxiety, I highly recommend giving this natural herbal remedy a try.