ashwagandha helps anxiety and insomnia

We are a culture of anxious insomniacs. A very ancient herb may be the answer to this very modern problem.

Ashwagadha is an ancient herb from the Ayurvedic tradition of India. It has been used as vitalizer, or what we would today call an adaptogen, for over 2,500 years.

Now, a new study has put this herb to the test in people who were struggling with both anxiety and insomnia.

The study was double-blind and included 58 people: 29 of them took 300mg of a highly concentrated extract of ashwagandha root twice a day, and 19 of them took a placebo. The study lasted 10 weeks.

The time it took the people in the ashwagandha group to fall asleep was significantly shorter than the time it took people who took a placebo. Sleep efficiency also improved significantly more in the ashwagandha group: scores improved from 75.63 to 83.48 compared to from 75.14 to only 79.68 in the placebo group. Quality of sleep also improved significantly more on the herb: an improvement of 3.92 points versus only 1.67 in the placebo group. Another important benefit of the herb was that more people on ashwagandha were alert when they woke up.

The result was the same for anxiety as it was for insomnia. Anxiety scores as measured by the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAMA) improved significantly in the ashwagandha group. The placebo group improved from a HAMA score of 23.42 at the beginning of the study to a score of 21.52; the ashwagandha improved from 23.58 to 18.48.

This may be the first study of ashwagandha on sleep. However, several studies have proven ashwagandha to be beneficial for stress, and a systematic review of 5 controlled studies demonstrated ashwagandha’s significant ability to improve anxiety (J Altern Complement Med 2014;20:901- 908).

In previous blogs, we have also discussed ashwagandha’s ability to help both men and women sexually. It also helps athletes, including building muscle, as well as osteoarthritis and OCD.

Cureus 2019; 11(9): e5797

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For much more on treating anxiety and insomnia naturally, see our book The Family Naturopathic Encyclopedia.

For more on ashwagandha, see our book Healthy Herbs: Your Everyday Guide to Medicinal Herbs and Their Use.

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