Ashwagandha Articles 2


A double-blind, placebo-controlled evaluation of the anxiolytic efficacy of an ethanolic extract of withania somnifera
         (Andrade et al., 2000) Download
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy an ethanolic extract of Aswagandha (Withania somnifera), in patients with ICD-10 anxiety disorders. The sample comprised 39 subjects, of whom 20 received the drug and 19 received placebo. The two groups were sociodemographically and clinically similar at baseline. At 2 and 6 weeks follow-up, data from approximately 85% of patients in each group were available for analysis. Statistical trends favouring the drug were observed at both time points. At 6 weeks, significantly more patients met a priori response criteria in the drug group (88.2%) as compared with the placebo group (50%). The drug was well-tolerated and did not occasion more adverse effects than did placebo. It is concluded that this ethanolic extract of Withania somnifera has useful anxiolytic potential and merits further investigation.

A Standardized Withania Somnifera Extract Significantly Reduces Stress-Related Parameters in Chronically Stressed Humans: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study
            (Auddy et al., 2008) Download
Withania somnifera (WS) has historically been used in Asia for treating stress-related health conditions. In this study, we investigated the effects of standardized WS root and leaf extract (WSE) in chronically stressed humans in a modern clinical trial. Participants were randomly assigned toWSE(125mgQD,125mgBID,or250mgBID)or placebo groups. Stress levels were assessed at Days 0, 30, and 60 using a modified Hamilton anxiety (mHAM-A) scale. Biochemical and clinical variables were measured at Days 0 and 60. Of 130 subjects enrolled, 98 completed the study. Between Days 0 and 60, the WSE 125 mg QD group decreased significantly more than placebo for mean mHAM-A score, serum cortisol, serum C-reactive protein, pulse rate and blood pressure, and increased significantly for mean serum DHEAS and hemoglobin. Other WSE treat- ment groups had greater dose-dependent responses in these parameters and had significantly greater responses com- pared to placebo in mean fasting blood glucose, serum lipid profiles and cardiac risk ratios. Participants and dropouts reported no adverse effects. Therefore, this study provides evidence that the consumption of WSE significantly reduces experiential and biochemical indicators of stress without adverse effects.
Naturopathic care for anxiety: a randomized controlled trial ISRCTN78958974
            (Cooley et al., 2009) Download
BACKGROUND: Anxiety is a serious personal health condition and represents a substantial burden to overall quality of life. Additionally anxiety disorders represent a significant cost to the health care system as well as employers through benefits coverage and days missed due to incapacity. This study sought to explore the effectiveness of naturopathic care on anxiety symptoms using a randomized trial. METHODS: Employees with moderate to severe anxiety of longer than 6 weeks duration were randomized based on age and gender to receive naturopathic care (NC) (n = 41) or standardized psychotherapy intervention (PT) (n = 40) over a period of 12 weeks. Blinding of investigators and participants during randomization and allocation was maintained. Participants in the NC group received dietary counseling, deep breathing relaxation techniques, a standard multi-vitamin, and the herbal medicine, ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) (300 mg b.i.d. standardized to 1.5% with anolides, prepared from root). The PT intervention received psychotherapy, and matched deep breathing relaxation techniques, and placebo. The primary outcome measure was the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and secondary outcome measures included the Short Form 36 (SF-36), Fatigue Symptom Inventory (FSI), and Measure Yourself Medical Outcomes Profile (MY-MOP) to measure anxiety, mental health, and quality of life respectively. Participants were blinded to the placebo-controlled intervention. RESULTS: Seventy-five participants (93%) were followed for 8 or more weeks on the trial. Final BAI scores decreased by 56.5% (p<0.0001) in the NC group and 30.5% (p<0.0001) in the PT group. BAI group scores were significantly decreased in the NC group compared to PT group (p = 0.003). Significant differences between groups were also observed in mental health, concentration, fatigue, social functioning, vitality, and overall quality of life with the NC group exhibiting greater clinical benefit. No serious adverse reactions were observed in either group. RELEVANCE: Many patients seek alternatives and/or complementary care to conventional anxiety treatments. To date, no study has evaluated the potential of a naturopathic treatment protocol to effectively treat anxiety. Knowledge of the efficacy, safety or risk of natural health products, and naturopathic treatments is important for physicians and the public in order to make informed decisions. INTERPRETATION: Both NC and PT led to significant improvements in patients' anxiety. Group comparison demonstrated a significant decrease in anxiety levels in the NC group over the PT group. Significant improvements in secondary quality of life measures were also observed in the NC group as compared to PT. The whole system of naturopathic care for anxiety needs to be investigated further including a closer examination of the individual components within the context of their additive effect. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ISRCTN78958974.

Water Extract of Ashwagandha Leaves Limits Proliferation and Migration, and Induces Differentiation in Glioma Cells
            (Kataria et al., 2009) Download
Root extracts of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) are commonly used as a remedy for a variety of ailments and a general tonic for overall health and longevity in the Indian traditional medicine system, Ayurveda. We undertook a study to investigate the anti-proliferative and differentiation-inducing activities in the water extract of Ashwagandha leaves (ASH-WEX) by examining in glioma cells. Preliminary detection for phytochemicals was performed by thin-layer chromatography. Cytotoxicity was determined using trypan blue and MTT assays. Expression level of an hsp70 family protein (mortalin), glial cell differentiation marker [glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP)] and neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) were analyzed by immunocytochemistry and immunoblotting. Anti-migratory assay was also done using wound-scratch assay. Expression levels of mortalin, GFAP and NCAM showed changes, subsequent to the treatment with ASH-WEX. The data support the existence of anti-proliferative, differentiation-inducing and anti-migratory/anti-metastasis activities in ASH-WEX that could be used as potentially safe and complimentary therapy for glioma.

Withania somnifera: an Indian ginseng
            (Kulkarni and Dhir, 2008) Download
Withania somnifera, popularly known as Ashwagandha is widely considered as the Indian ginseng. In Ayurveda, it is classified as a rasayana (rejuvenation) and expected to promote physical and mental health, rejuvenate the body in debilitated conditions and increase longevity. Having wide range of activity, it is used to treat almost all disorders that affect the human health. The present review discusses the pharmacological basis of the use of W. somnifera in various central nervous system (CNS) disorders, particularly its indication in epilepsy, stress and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disorders, tardive dyskinesia, cerebral ischemia, and even in the management of drug addiction.

Effect of standardized aqueous extract of Withania somnifera on tests of cognitive and psychomotor performance in healthy human participants.
            (Pingali et al., 2014) Download
BACKGROUND: Withania somnifera is an herbal medicine that has been known to possess memory-enhancing properties. The current study involved an assessment of cognitive and psychomotor effects of Withania somnifera extract in healthy human participants. MATERIALS AND METHODS: In this prospective, double-blind, multi-dose, placebo-controlled, crossover study, 20 healthy male participants were randomized to receive 250 mg two capsules twice daily of an encapsulated dried aqueous extract of roots and leaves of Withania somnifera or a matching placebo for a period of 14 days. Cognitive and psychomotor performance was assessed pre-dose (day 1) and at 3 hrs post-dose on day 15 using a battery of computerized psychometric tests. After a washout period of 14 days, the subjects crossed-over to receive the other treatment for a further period of 14 days as per prior randomization schedule. Same battery of test procedures were performed to assess cognitive and psychomotor performance. RESULTS: Significant improvements were observed in reaction times with simple reaction, choice discrimination, digit symbol substitution, digit vigilance, and card sorting tests with Withania somnifera extract compared to placebo. However, no effect can be seen with the finger tapping test. CONCLUSION: These results suggest that Withania somnifera extract can improve cognitive and psychomotor performance and may, therefore, be a valuable adjunct in the treatment of diseases associated with cognitive impairment.

Withania somnifera root extract improves catecholamines and physiological abnormalities seen in a Parkinson's disease model mouse
            (RajaSankar et al., 2009) Download
ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: Withania somnifera root extract (Ws)/Ashwagandha/Indian ginseng is a traditional herbal medicine, used over 4000 years in India, shown to have effect on neural growth and locomotor function. Although catecholamines and oxidative stress resulting in neurodegeneration and locomotor disorder are the main events in Parkinson's disease (PD), efficacy of the drug on these molecules and physiological abnormality are not clear. AIM OF THE STUDY: The objective of the study was to examine effect of Ws on catecholamines and physiological abnormalities seen in PD using PD model mouse. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Mouse were treated with 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) for 4 days to show biochemical and physiological abnormalities similar to patients with PD. PD mice were treated with Ws 100mg/kg body weight for 7 or 28 days. Catecholamines: dopamine (DA), 3,4-dihydroxy-phenylacetic acid (DOPAC) and homovanillic acid (HVA); antioxidants: glutathione (GSH) and glutathione peroxidase (GPx); and lipid peroxidation marker (TBARS) were analyzed in the Ws treated and untreated PD mouse striatum. RESULTS: Mouse treated with MPTP showed reduced levels of DA, DOPAC, HVA, GSH and GPx and induced thiobarbituric acid reactive substance (TBARS) level compared to the control. Physiological abnormalities were seen in the mouse as determined by hang test and rotarod test. Oral treatment of PD mouse Ws root extract (100mg/kg body weight) for 7 days or 28 days increased DA, DOPAC and HVA levels and normalized TBARS levels in the corpus striatum of the PD mouse. The 7 days Ws treated mice showed improved motor function as determined by hang test and rotarod test. Treatment with Ws for 28 days increased GSH and GPx levels in the striatum compared to the Ws untreated PD mouse striatum. CONCLUSION: These data suggest that Ws is a potential drug in treating catecholamines, oxidative damage and physiological abnormalities seen in the PD mouse.

Withania somnifera reverses Alzheimer's disease pathology by enhancing low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein in liver.
            (Sehgal et al., 2012) Download
A 30-d course of oral administration of a semipurified extract of the root of Withania somnifera consisting predominantly of withanolides and withanosides reversed behavioral deficits, plaque pathology, accumulation of beta-amyloid peptides (Abeta) and oligomers in the brains of middle-aged and old APP/PS1 Alzheimer's disease transgenic mice. It was similarly effective in reversing behavioral deficits and plaque load in APPSwInd mice (line J20). The temporal sequence involved an increase in plasma Abeta and a decrease in brain Abeta monomer after 7 d, indicating increased transport of Abeta from the brain to the periphery. Enhanced expression of low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein (LRP) in brain microvessels and the Abeta-degrading protease neprilysin (NEP) occurred 14-21 d after a substantial decrease in brain Abeta levels. However, significant increase in liver LRP and NEP occurred much earlier, at 7 d, and were accompanied by a rise in plasma sLRP, a peripheral sink for brain Abeta. In WT mice, the extract induced liver, but not brain, LRP and NEP and decreased plasma and brain Abeta, indicating that increase in liver LRP and sLRP occurring independent of Abeta concentration could result in clearance of Abeta. Selective down-regulation of liver LRP, but not NEP, abrogated the therapeutic effects of the extract. The remarkable therapeutic effect of W. somnifera mediated through up-regulation of liver LRP indicates that targeting the periphery offers a unique mechanism for Abeta clearance and reverses the behavioral deficits and pathology seen in Alzheimer's disease models.

An overview on ashwagandha: a Rasayana (rejuvenator) of Ayurveda.
            (Singh et al., 2011) Download
Withania somnifera (Ashawagandha) is very revered herb of the Indian Ayurvedic system of medicine as a Rasayana (tonic). It is used for various kinds of disease processes and specially as a nervine tonic. Considering these facts many scientific studies were carried out and its adaptogenic / anti-stress activities were studied in detail. In experimental models it increases the stamina of rats during swimming endurance test and prevented adrenal gland changes of ascorbic acid and cortisol content produce by swimming stress. Pretreatment with Withania somnifera (WS) showed significance protection against stress induced gastric ulcers. WS have anti-tumor effect on Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cell carcinoma. It was also found effective against urethane induced lung-adenoma in mice. In some cases of uterine fibroids, dermatosarcoma, long term treatment with WS controlled the condition. It has a Cognition Promoting Effect and was useful in children with memory deficit and in old age people loss of memory. It was also found useful in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's, Huntington's and Alzeimer's diseases. It has GABA mimetic effect and was shown to promote formation of dendrites. It has anxiolytic effect and improves energy levels and mitochondrial health. It is an anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic agent and was found useful in clinical cases of Rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis. Large scale studies are needed to prove its clinical efficacy in stress related disorders, neuronal disorders and cancers.




Andrade, C., et al. (2000), ‘A double-blind, placebo-controlled evaluation of the anxiolytic efficacy ff an ethanolic extract of withania somnifera’, Indian J Psychiatry, 42 (3), 295-301. PubMedID: 21407960
Auddy, B., et al. (2008), ‘A Standardized Withania Somnifera Extract Significantly Reduces Stress-Related Parameters in Chronically Stressed Humans: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study’, JANA, 11 (1), PubMedID:
Cooley, K., et al. (2009), ‘Naturopathic care for anxiety: a randomized controlled trial ISRCTN78958974’, PLoS One, 4 (8), e6628. PubMedID: 19718255
Kataria, H., et al. (2009), ‘Water Extract of Ashwagandha Leaves Limits Proliferation and Migration, and Induces Differentiation in Glioma Cells’, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med, PubMedID: 20007262
Kulkarni, S. K. and A. Dhir (2008), ‘Withania somnifera: an Indian ginseng’, Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry, 32 (5), 1093-105. PubMedID: 17959291
Pingali, U, R Pilli, and N Fatima (2014), ‘Effect of standardized aqueous extract of Withania somnifera on tests of cognitive and psychomotor performance in healthy human participants.’, Pharmacognosy Res, 6 (1), 12-18. PubMedID: 24497737
RajaSankar, S., et al. (2009), ‘Withania somnifera root extract improves catecholamines and physiological abnormalities seen in a Parkinson’s disease model mouse’, J Ethnopharmacol, 125 (3), 369-73. PubMedID: 19666100
Sehgal, N, et al. (2012), ‘Withania somnifera reverses Alzheimer’s disease pathology by enhancing low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein in liver.’, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 109 (9), 3510-15. PubMedID: 22308347
Singh, N, et al. (2011), ‘An overview on ashwagandha: a Rasayana (rejuvenator) of Ayurveda.’, Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med, 8 (5 Suppl), 208-13. PubMedID: 22754076