ashwagandha may help cognition

This ancient herb from the Ayurvedic tradition of India has been showing all kinds of benefits for mental health in recent research. Research is now showing early hope that ashwagandha may also help with neurological conditions and cognition.

Ashwagandha has been enjoying an explosion of recent research demonstrating benefits for mental health. It has been shown to have benefits for OCDschizophrenia and, especially, anxiety and insomnia.

Most recently, ashwagandha is drawing attention for its potential to help neurological and cognitive conditions.

A recent review uncovered ashwagandha’s capacity to protect against neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington disease, tardive dyskinesia, stroke and anxiety.

A new systematic review adds to the new promise for this ancient herb by looking at the research on cognitive dysfunction. The studies were small, but the promise is big.

A double-blind study of 53 people with bipolar disorder or “not otherwise specified” disorder had significant improvement in cognitive tasks when they were given 250-500mg a day of ashwagandha for 8 weeks.

20 healthy men had significant improvement in reaction time, choice discrimination, attention and psychomotor speed and card scoring when they were given 250mg a day of ashwagandha for 2 weeks in a double-blind study.

In a double-blind study of 50 people with mild cognitive impairment, 300mg of ashwagandha extract taken twice a day for 8 weeks led to significant improvement in memory test scores for logical memory, executive function, attention and information processing speed.

This set of small double-blind studies adds to the hope that ashwagandha could improve the lives of people with neurological and cognitive conditions.

Phytother Res March 2020;34(3):583-590

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