The Ashwagandha Adaptogen: A Natural Way to Stay Calm?
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More and more, people are looking for ways to handle problems related to mood and affect with natural treatments before turning to pharmaceuticals. Some of the most widely-prescribed anxiety medications on the market are absolutely riddled with dangers, including tolerance, dependence, and a scary type of withdrawal that can only be cured by taking more. It’s not great 


What’s the alternative? It’s not like you can just snap your fingers and calm down when you’re having a serious reaction to something. Obviously. 


Adaptogens are a class of bioactive plants thought to increase the body’s resistance to stress on a biological level. They affects the body’s nervous systems, which mean they affect both physical and mental health. Some adaptogens, like ashwagandha, have shown some pretty serious promise as a natural aid in managing crisis moments. Let’s discover how:


Brain Biology: How Ashwagandha Affects Stress & Mood

Ashwagandha is chocked full of phytochemicals, the most important, for our discussion, being the witanolides, alkaloids and flavonoids. Ashwagandha lowers the activity of your brain’s adaptation axis, which controls the body’s stress response. 


When a stressful event occurs, this adaptation axis reacts by increasing levels of pro-stress hormones and signalers. Ashwagandha is thought to dampen this process, in turn reducing the intensity of a stress reaction.


The secondary effects of lessening stress responses extend to the byproducts of chronically-raised levels of stress chemicals, especially harmful proteins. These can mess with every organ and system in your body, and are especially harmful to brain function.


Research has also found direct evidence that ashwagandha is an agonist of GABA receptors. GABA is the body’s calm-down chemical, and is associated with calm, clear mood that does not come with drowsiness. Low GABA levels are associated with many mood, affect and psychotic challenges.


Clinical Evidence for Ashwagandha as a Mood-Mellower

The mechanisms of ashwagandha are anything but theoretical. We can watch this powerful adaptogen accomplish real things in research:


2022: A study on ashwagandha supplementation on healthy adults with perceived high levels of stress looked at cognitive abilities, self-reported mood, stress, food cravings, and reactivity. 30 days of consumption resulted in statistically-significant improvements in perceived stress, tension and low mood. As well, CNS markers indicated improved executive functioning and lower levels of stress response chemicals.


2019: A study on the stress-relieving effects of ashwagandha on adults with self-reported high stress found after 60 days of supplementation, there was a statistically-significant decrease in 2 clinical inventory scores for reactivity and low mood.


2021: A review of the human trials on ashwagandha concluded “the strongest evidence for therapeutic efficacy of ashwagandha is the alleviation of stress...”


2021: A comprehensive review of pre-clinical and clinical studies on ashwagandha noted “WS root and leaf extracts exhibited noteworthy anti-stress… activity in animal and human studies.” This review also stated that ashwagandha has demonstrated the potential to relieve challenges associated with emotional dysregulation, including reactivity and distress. 


(Learn more about ashwagandha’s adaptogenic abilities in our article: Understanding Ashwagandha: from Ancient Ayurvedic Medicine to Modern Health & Wellness)


Research Limitations & Caveats to Ashwagandha for Stress

Even though ashwagandha has a 6000-year history of medicinal use, the scientific research, while compelling, is still in its early stages, especially clinical human trials. As such, we cannot know the longitudinal effects of ashwagandha past 3-4 months. 


In addition, because of its powerful and multifaceted bioactivity, some people should not use ashwagandha, including:


  • Pregnant and/or breastfeeding
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Prostate cancer
  • On medications for chronic health conditions


Some people may react poorly to ashwagandha supplements. Before starting any new herbal supplement, consult with your health professional to ensure it will be safe and beneficial to your health.


Other Well-Being-Boosting Abilities of Ashwagandha

The thing about stress is, it has a toxic effect on everything from your heart to your muscles to your mind. Chronic raised activity in the adaptation axis as a result of stress or as a secondary symptom of stress has been associated with a host of health problems too long to list. (But you can read more about it in our article: How Chronic High Stress Levels Are Messing with Your Fitness Goals)


It follows, then, that research has uncovered several other potential adaptogenic and restorative abilities of ashwagandha, including:


  • Neuroprotective effects
  • Anti-inflammatory/immunomodulatory effects
  • Antibacterial properties
  • Fertility support
  • Anti-diabetic activities
  • Cardioprotective properties
  • Support for nighttime recovery/sleep difficulties
  • Support for chronic preoccupation
  • Thyroid support
  • Increase muscle strength


Less Stress, More Life: Adding Ashwagandha to Your Routine

Incorporating ashwagandha into your daily routine can serve as a natural calming aid for some people. The benefits over prescriptions are that ashwagandha has the ability to systemically make you more resilient to stressful moments over time, strengthening your innate ability to resist stress and reactivity. Plus it’s safe – no addiction or withdrawal to worry about.While ashwagandha drinks aren’t exactly easy to find, let alone the raw stuff, a supplement powder that incorporates ashwagandha for stress and energy can make getting those good greens simple. MTE is a well-being supplement comprised of 13 adaptogens, nootropics and superfoods for 360 support for vitality. Balanced, tranquil mood is just one of the 8 big benefits to this game-changer in herbal stress remedies. No wonder they call it the Feel Good Drink.

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