Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a medicinal herb that has a centuries-long track record of treating a multitude of conditions, ranging from low energy to chronic pain to fertility issues. Additionally, due to the herb’s calming properties, one of the most common uses of Ashwagandha is for anxiety treatment.
The plant, native to India, the Middle East, and North Africa, has been a key herb in Indian Ayurveda practices, as well as African folk medicine. Like so many traditional herbal remedies, as a growing number of individuals seek a more natural (and often safer) approach to managing their health, Ashwagandha is proving its value in the Western world. Ashwagandha is typically taken in the form of an oral supplement or made into a tea.
“Miracle Herb”: Using Ashwaghanda for Anxiety, Depression, and More
Ashwagandha is known as an adaptogen. This makes it a useful multi-purpose herbal treatment that reduces overall stress on the body, increases vitality, and adjusts itself to each individual’s body chemistry. For example, it has been shown to aid those with low energy, as well as, those who are overly excitable and seeking to calm themselves down.
Just a sampling of Ashwaghanda’s uses include:
- Treating anxiety and depression
- Lowering inflammation in the body
- Reducing the impact of aging
- Helping with sleeplessness
- Improving cognitive functioning and memory
- Increasing energy and endurance
Studies have shown that Ashwagandha may be useful in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease and Alzeheimer’s, as well as, for reducing tumor growth and acting as an anti-oxidant that protects against cellular damage.
Ashwagandha’s Anti-Anxiety and Calming Properties
While prescription medications such as benzodiazepines are still the most common treatments for anxiety, research has indicated that there are herbal remedies that reduce anxiety as effectively as these sedative drugs, with fewer risks and side effects.
Scientists have identified several compounds contained in Ashwagandha as anti-stress agents. One study concluded that Ashwagandha lowered anxiety as effectively as the benzodiazepine Lorazepam, while another concluded that the herb shows promise in the prevention of stress-related ulcers.
Other studies have demonstrated that Aswhwaghanda reduces the stress hormone cortisol, and that the herb acts similarly to the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which plays an important role in regulating the nervous system and keeping anxiety in check.
While the medical and scientific communities are still in the beginning stages of researching the many benefits of the herb, there is already considerable evidence that Ashwagandha is an effective, safe, and natural anxiety treatment – backing up what herbal medicine practitioners have known for centuries.