Are you having trouble falling asleep? Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) may be just the remedy for you. As signified by its botanical name, Withania somnifera, ‘somnifera’ means “sleep-inducing”. It has been recommended for sound sleep for centuries.
Due to the relentless pace and pressures of today’s modern lifestyle, the occurrence of insomnia, triggered mainly by chronic stress, is not surprising. The problem has reached near epidemic levels. Nearly 50-70 million people in the United States experience insomnia.1
Ashwagandha is a multipurpose Ayurvedic herb, useful for many conditions including sexual health and infertility, arthritis, PCOS and sleep, amongst other conditions. In Ayurvedic classical texts it is referred to as Nindrajanan, which means it promotes sleep.2 It has also been described as a nervine tonic.3
Much research has been done on Ashwagandha to show that it is a potent herb for insomnia.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, a natural compound that helps the body adapt to stress. It has free radical scavenging properties and it increases the level of antioxidants in the body. It corrects the imbalance between the immune and neuroendocrine systems to normalize the bodily functions under stressful conditions by targeting the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal gland axis.4
Ashwagandha acts like a GABAergic drug, binding to GABA receptors. It produces calming, anti‐anxiety, anti‐convulsive, highly‐stabilizing effects. Excessive neuronal activity leads to restlessness and insomnia, but GABA in the brain inhibits the number of nerve cells that fire, and helps to induce sleep, uplift mood, and reduce anxiety.5
Ashwagandha root extract reduces levels of serum cortisol, which is elevated in stressful conditions.6
It also reduces stress‐induced increases in dopamine receptors in the corpus striatum, thereby reducing effects of dopamine dysregulation.7
Ashwagandha has neuroprotective properties. It relaxes frayed nerves and tones the central nervous system to enhance tolerance to stress.8
Ashwagandha induces a calming anxiolytic effect that is comparable to the drug Lorazepam in all three standards. Ashwagandha also exhibits an antidepressant effect, comparable with that induced by imipramine.9
Triethylene glycol, an active component of Ashwagandha leaves, is found to be responsible for sleep induction.10
Sitoindoside IX and Sitoindoside X glycosides present in Ashwagandha have immunomodulatory and Central Nervous System (CNS) effects and act as anti-stress agents.11
Can one get addicted to Ashwagandha?
No, Ashwagandha does not cause any addiction when taken daily.
Does Ashwagandha have any side effects?
No such side effects have been reported so far, but pregnant women should avoid this herb. Do not take this herb with other sedatives or anti-anxiety drugs.12
How much Ashwagandha should one take?
1-2 grams of Ashwagandha powder in 1 cup of lukewarm milk is sufficient. Alternatively mix the Ashwagandha with honey. This can be taken twice daily on an empty stomach.
Or take a little more Ashwagandha once daily. For example, 3-4 grams of Ashwagandha powder mixed into 1 cup of lukewarm milk at night, 30 minutes before bedtime.
Insomnia should not be taken lightly because it can become fatal. Please consult your doctor if you or your child is experiencing insomnia. Before taking any supplements, check with your doctor or health care provider. For insomnia remedies for kids, click here.
1 “Insomnia Stats and Sleep Statistics 2016 – 2017.” Trend Statistics. Trend Statistics 2016-17, 18 Jan. 2017. Web. 26 July 2017.
2 The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia Of India Part- I Volume 1, Page 15
3 Singh N. XXXVIth Annual Congress on Medicinal Plant Research (Freiburg) 1988. Effect of Withania somnifera and Panax ginseng on dopaminergic receptors in rat brain during stress; p. 28.
4 Verma SK, Kumar A. Theraputic uses of Withania Somnifera (Ashwagandha) with a note on withanoloids and its pharmacological actions. Asian J Pharma Clin Res. 2011;4(1):1–5
5 KSM-66 Ashwagandha: The High-potency, Full Spectrum Ingredient for Stress Relief, Energy, Cognition and Immunity Anand V. Bodapati, Ph. D. UCLA Anderson School Advisor, Ixoreal Biomed
6 Auddy B, Hazra J, Mitra A, Abedon B, Ghosal S. A standardized Withania somnifera extract significantly reduces stress-related parameters in chronically stressed humans: A double-blind, randomized
7 KSM-66 Ashwagandha: The High-potency, Full Spectrum Ingredient for Stress Relief, Energy, Cognition and Immunity Anand V. Bodapati, Ph. D. UCLA Anderson School Advisor, Ixoreal Biomed
8 Bhattacharya SK, Bhattacharya A, Sairam K, Ghosal S. Anxiolytic-antidepressant activity of Withania somnifera glycowithanolides: an experimental study. Phytomedicine, 7: 463-469 (2000)
9 Abdel-Magied EM, Abdel-Rahman HA, Harraz FM,The effect of aqueous extracts of Cynomorium coccineum and Withania somnifera on testicular development in immature Wistar rats.J Ethnopharmacol. 2001 Apr; 75(1): 1-4.
10 Mahesh K. Kaushik,et al , Triethylene glycol, an active component of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) leaves, is responsible for sleep induction (Published online 2017 Feb 16. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0172508 PMCID: PMC5313221)
11 Panda S and Kar A. “Evidence for free radical scavenging activity of Ashwagandha root powder in mice”; Ind. J. Physiol. Pharmacol. 1997; 41(4): 424-426.
12 Chaurasia Pratibha, Therapeutic Properties and Significance of Different parts of Ashwagandha- A Medicinal Plant International Journal of Pure & Applied Bioscience
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