Ashwaganda for Mood, Memory—and More
Ashwaganda is an ancient medicinal herb known to fight inflammation via its high concentration of molecules called withanolides.
Ashwaganda has been shown in scientific studies to reduce cortisol. Increased levels of cortisol are associated with feelings of stress and anxiety. In fact, when people in one scientific study used ashwaganda supplements, their anxiety and insomnia were reduced by 69 percent. Other studies have shown similar or even more powerful data.
Depression may yield to ashwaganda, as well. One study showed a 79 percent reduction in depression in those who took 600 mg of high-concentration ashwagandha extract per day.
Ashwaganda may increase testosterone levels and muscle strength in men. It also seems to offer some level of protection against cancer cell lines (at least in the laboratory).
Yet, some of the most profound effects of ashwaganda appear to be on brain function and memory. Supplementing with ashwaganda at between 300 and 500 mg in two studies significantly increased memory, focus and the ability to complete cognitive tasks.
The website getroman.com states:
The “youth giving” properties of ashwagandha don’t just apply to your physical aptitude. Preliminary studies done on animals and in test tubes suggest it also extends to boosting your mental abilities and brain function. Though the practice of using ashwagandha for brain health is a long Ayurvedic practice, research in humans is lagging behind. Reaction time and cognitive function improved significantly in men put on a regimen of ashwagandha versus placebo in one small study (Pingali, 2014). Memory and information processing were also increased in participants of another study that looked specifically at effects in people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) (Choudhary, 2017).
Common dosages of ashwaganda run around 450-500 mg, taken twice a day.
Ashwaganda is not recommended for pregnant women or nursing mothers or those with autoimmune disorders, like rheumatoid arthritis. Ashwaganda is also a “nightshade,” so anyone following a diet that eliminates nightshades (which include tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants) should avoid taking this supplement.
Dr. Keith Ablow