Does Ashwagandha Relieve Symptoms of Anxiety?
April 11, 2020. Andy Horide, Osteopath
I always feel uneasy when asked to recommend supplements for something like anxiety. Anxiety is that feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, and can range from very mild to severe.
Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life.
For example, you may feel worried/anxious about sitting an exam, having a medical test or moving house. During times like these, feeling anxious can be perfectly normal.
This is partly why I haven’t felt comfortable considering supplements for anxiety, as it can be completely normal and due to reasons that are temporary. Also, there are many potential causes for anxiety and it’s likely to be multifactorial in nature. I personally would want people to identify these stressors (and hopefully remove them) before taking any supplement.
However, some people find it hard to control their worries. Their feelings of anxiety are constant and can be so overwhelming that they affect their daily life.
Anxiety can be the main symptom of several conditions as well. These include panic disorder, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder and social anxiety disorder (social phobia).
Why did I decide to write this article?
I wanted to write this article after considering the reaction to my earlier article on CBD oil. I quickly realised that a considerable number of people were taking CBD oil for anxiety even though there isn’t any real, quality research for it yet.
I understand that some people might not be in the position to remove their stressors in life. You can’t abandon looking after a family member. You could be trying to balance two jobs while looking after several children.
Therefore, people are going to look for something to help their anxiety regardless.
What I find difficult is how CBD oil companies have taken advantage of this desperation. Some are giving medical advice when they have no medical training or basis for their advice (not all CBD oil companies are bad).
I thought I would look for any alternatives to CBD oil. I wanted to see if any supplements are effective for alleviating the symptoms of anxiety and stress. As always, I’ve used research as a guide.
One supplement that caught my attention was ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is a plant in the Solanaceae or nightshade family. Let’s delve through some of the research and see if it’s worth considering for anxiety.
A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study looking at 64 subjects found that ashwagandha root extract exhibited a significant reduction in stress-assessment scales on day 60. This was relative to the placebo group. Their serum cortisol levels were also substantially reduced. While positive, a glaring negative of this study is that the sample size was only 64.
A systematic review of human trial results reported for the Ayurvedic herb ashwagandha found ‘all five studies concluded that WS intervention resulted in greater score improvements (significantly in most cases) than placebo in outcomes on anxiety or stress scales’. Once again, a drawback is these studies had relatively small sample sizes.
Even though the type and design of these studies are good and show consistent results, further research is needed with much bigger sample sizes. This would enable a clearer picture of how far this positive effect might extend.
My recommended supplement
Disclaimer – if you suspect or know you suffer from anxiety then go and seek medical advice. This article does not substitute seeing your doctor or health professional for your anxiety. Here is a link to self help advice that the NHS recommend.
The supplement I would recommend is by a company called True Veda. The reason why I am recommending this particular one is that it contains something called KSM66. This means the supplement is made purely from ashwagandha root and is the type mostly used in the studies mentioned. It is also reasonably priced at £20 for a two-month supply and is third-party tested. There are other good products out there as well.
I will put the supplement link here. I have no connection with this company but if you click on my link I get a few pence for every one sold, through the Amazon affiliate program. This goes a little way to helping me produce these articles.
Otherwise, you can purchase it by typing ‘Ashwagandha Supplement’ into a search engine and it should come up.
I hope you have found this article useful and remember to use the link for the NHS website on ways to control stress. Other things you can try include:
- Talk to someone you trust
- Try to manage your worries
- Look after your physical health
- Try breathing exercises
- Keep a diary
- Try peer support
- Try alternative therapies
To go into more detail about any one of these aspects, visit the mind.org website.
I thought I would finish with a quote:
“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” — Martin Luther King
I’m not usually a ‘quotey’ sort of person but I think this is relevant for this topic. In my opinion, anxiety, like happiness, is not something that once is obtained is everlasting. It’s about working at it and being consistent. Take care.
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