Ashwagandha for Anxiety: Everything You Need to Know

Taking ashwagandha for anxiety is a safe and effective way for people to reduce physical and mental health risks as well as lead a calmer lifestyle. Anxiety affects 40 million adults in the U.S. every year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Society of America (ADSA). It’s the most common mental illness, but fortunately, highly treatable. However, the ADSA reports that only 37 percent of those experiencing anxiety symptoms seek treatment. Failure to treat anxiety can lead to increased doctor visits, other physical and mental ailments, and a decreased quality of life. 

Furthermore, many rely on unhealthy ways to ease anxiety symptoms, including drinking alcohol, taking recreational drugs, and engaging in manic or depressive behavior. Ashwagandha for stress and anxiety provides a natural way for people to ease their minds and focus on creating better habits that benefit their state of wellness. Each part of the plant is used for specific purposes. For example, the leaves are used as a way to reduce fever and painful swelling. The root, which is most regularly used, alleviates joint inflammation, fights fatigue, and boosts the mood, among several other treatments.

Ashwagandha supplementation works hand-in-hand with other calming practices, including yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises. And, when combined with a balanced diet, regular exercise, and quality sleep, it significantly changes the outlook of a person’s health for the better. 

How Does Ashwagandha for Anxiety Work? 

Ashwagandha is a plant that has medicinal benefits, each part offering its own unique therapies. It’s been used for centuries, primarily in India and Africa as part of Ayurvedic medicine, which focuses on the alignment of the body, mind, and spirit. The most often used part of the plant is its root extract, which is considered an adaptogen. 

An adaptogen allows the body to adapt to stress and give the body what it needs to heal. As a study conducted by the Swedish Herbal Institute Research & Development points out, adaptogens were initially defined as “substances that enhanced the state of non-specific resistance in stress.” They have anti-fatigue, antidepressant, and neuroprotective qualities that stimulate activity in the central nervous system. When there are high levels of cortisol as a result of anxiety, adaptogens allow the body to return to a sense of balance. 

A clinical trial conducted by SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY supports the positive effects of taking ashwagandha stress relievers. It concluded that participants treated with ashwagandha for a 60-day period showed significant improvements in anxiety and stress when compared to those in the placebo group. 

Another study conducted by the Department of Neuropsychiatry, Asha Hospital in Pradesh, India also found high-concentration ashwagandha root extract delivered a safe and effective improvement in an individual’s resistance to stress, which helped to improve their quality of life. This study was conducted among subjects ranging in age from 18- to 54 years-old who were free of any psychiatric conditions other than stress. 

One particular finding established that ashwagandha reduced the levels of serum cortisol in the study’s participants. Serum cortisol is linked to acute stress, which often leads to high blood pressure, increased heart rate, and other adverse heart health matters. Data revealed ashwagandha for anxiety not only reduced the levels of cortisol but helped to mitigate the precursors and associated symptoms. 

What Causes High Cortisol Levels?

Stress is the body’s immediate response to environmental factors. Everything from fluctuating temperatures to dangerous situations can cause a person’s cortisol levels to increase or decrease. When a person’s stress levels spike, it signals the body to release hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, the primary stress hormone. 

Stress is part of the body’s fight-or-flight response that protects you from potentially harmful situations. However, if you’re under chronic stress, the signals never shut off and cortisol levels continue to rise, which can eventually lead to conditions such as anxiety, depression, heart disease, and obesity. Though high cortisol is largely situational and environment-based, issues with the pituitary or adrenal glands can cause abnormal amounts of cortisol to be released. 

Post-traumatic stress, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and phobias are factors that raise anxiety levels in people. However, normal, everyday situations can also cause anxiety levels to spike, such as too much time on social media, current events, and problems with personal relationships, which is why finding an effective way to alleviate oxidative stress is one of the prime concerns for people today.

Ways to Take Ashwagandha

There are multiple forms available for taking ashwagandha for stress and anxiety. The most common is in a powdered substance, mixed with a warm tea or milk to add to the soothing experience. It’s also available in pill, capsule, and liquid form. The amount needed depends on how you ingest it and the frequency with which you take it. Following the recommendations listed on the product label is the best way to go for it to be effective as intended. 

It’s also important to be consistent when taking it for anxiety rather than waiting for stress to build up. Similar to an exercise or meditation routine, ashwagandha stress relievers are a proactive way to bring calm and balance back to your life. When introducing any new supplement or activity to your daily regimen, it’s best to track results at least for the first one or two months. 

Simply jot down a few notes of how you feel, measure your stress level from 1-10, and identify any great contributors to oxidative stress and what you’ve done to help reduce it. For example, the ashwagandha benefits for stress and anxiety may be amplified if you also introduce 10 minutes of meditation per day or 30 minutes of exercise. The more you introduce wellness into your daily life, the more of an impact you’ll likely notice. 

Alternatively, when you take one of those health boosts away, notice how your physical and mental conditions shift. Tune into how your body is feeling at the moment. Do you have less energy? Is it more difficult to focus? The gradual changes in either direction are what keep us in a balanced state or lead to a disruption that can result in anxiety and other stress-related disorders.

Supporting Health Benefits of Ashwagandha 

Stress is only one factor that can disrupt the central nervous system since everything is interconnected. Fortunately, ashwagandha aids in preventing or reducing many symptoms and conditions, including reducing inflammation and aiding in cognitive function, in addition to alleviating anxiety and stress. 

May Reduce Inflammation

When the body is agitated or under duress, symptoms may appear on the surface in the form of inflammation. Studies have shown ashwagandha decreases C-reactive protein (CRP), which is a marker of inflammation that’s linked to increased risk of heart disease. 

Original research performed by the Research and Development Center and Central Research Institute in Kolkata, India and NutraGenesis LLC in Brattleboro, Vermont concluded that daily consumption of ashwagandha root extract at three dosages reduced feelings of stress and anxiety and a decrease in CRP by 36 percent. 

Aids in Cognitive Functioning

When stress overtakes the body, it can reduce the brain’s ability to focus or carry out everyday tasks. There have been studies that have shown positive results in how ashwagandha aids in certain cognitive functioning, including memory retention, task performance, and mental alertness. The Indian Red Cross Society in conjunction with the Department of Pharmaceutical Technology, NSHM Knowledge Campus in India delivers evidence of ashwagandha treatment significantly improving immediate and general memory, executive brain function, sustained attention, and information-process speed for participants part of the eight-week study. 

A separate study conducted by the Department of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Nizam’s Institute of Medical Science in Hyderabad, India also supported such findings by observing vast improvements in reaction times and other psychomotor performance for participants who received two 250 mg ashwagandha supplement capsules twice a day for two weeks. 

For those who want to take an ashwagandha supplement for anxiety and stress reduction purposes, it carries other healing properties as well. Ashwagandha has also been known to stabilize blood sugar, lower cholesterol, improve white blood cell count, and other health benefits that bring balance and wellness to the body. 

A Natural Solution for Anxiety Relief

Ashwagandha for anxiety has been relied on for centuries, across multiple cultures, as a natural remedy to restore calm to the body. By harnessing the healing power of plants, people with all types of ailments can rely on a solution that brings relief in an easy and effective way. Trying ashwagandha as a therapeutic remedy for anxiety can have a positive domino effect, as it promotes quality sleep onset, lower blood pressure, and an increase in mental alertness and overall brain function. It helps to align your physical and mental health so you can feel more balanced going forward. 

Everyone at some point faces anxiety and increased stress. It takes a toll on the body physically, emotionally, and mentally and causes a toxic cycle that creates negative effects. Fortunately, with ashwagandha, as well as other modern medicine, there are ways to reduce these mental tolls and improve your overall wellness. 


Sources: 

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3991026/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4270108/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3573577/

https://blog.priceplow.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/withania_review.pdf

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28471731/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24497737/