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Nutritional Supplement

Ashwagandha

  • Joint Health

    Osteoarthritis

    A combination of boswellia, ashwagandha, turmeric, and zinc effectively treated pain and stiffness in one study, without the stomach irritation that is a common side effect of NSAIDs.
    Osteoarthritis
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    Boswellia has anti-inflammatory properties that have been compared to those of the NSAIDs used by many for inflammatory conditions.5 Clinical trials have found that boswellia is more effective than a placebo for relieving pain and swelling and preventing loss of function in people with osteoarthritis.6 Boswellia has also been found to be as effective as the anti-inflammatory drug valdecoxib (Bextra). In addition, while the improvements occurred more slowly in the boswellia group than in the valdecoxib group, they persisted for a longer period of time after treatment was discontinued.7 One clinical trial found that a combination of boswellia, ashwagandha, turmeric, and zinc effectively treated pain and stiffness associated with OA but did not improve joint health, according to X-rays of the affected joint.8 Unlike NSAIDs, long-term use of boswellia does not lead to irritation or ulceration of the stomach.

  • Immune System Support

    Immune Function

    Ashwagandha stimulates the immune system and is considered a tonic or adaptogen—an herb with multiple actions that counteract the effects of stress and generally promote wellness.
    Immune Function
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    Ashwagandha is considered a general stimulant of the immune system,9 and has been called a tonic or adaptogen10—an herb with multiple, nonspecific actions that counteract the effects of stress and generally promote wellness. More research is needed to better evaluate these claims.
  • Stress and Mood Management

    Stress

    Ashwagandha may be helpful for reducing the effects of stress, including chronic psychological stress.
    Stress
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    The herbs discussed here are considered members of a controversial category known as adaptogens, which are thought to increase the body's resistance to stress, and to generally enhance physical and mental functioning.11,12 Many animal studies have shown that various herbal adaptogens have protective effects against physically stressful experiences,13,14 but whether these findings are relevant to human stress experiences is not always clear.

    Animal studies have suggested that ashwagandha may be helpful for reducing the effects of stress,15,16,17 including chronic psychological stress.18 In a double-blind study of people experiencing chronic stress, supplementation with 300 mg per day of a concentrated ashwaganda extract for 60 days significantly decreased perceived stress, compared with a placebo.19

    An herbal formula from the Ayurvedic medicine tradition, containing extracts of ashwagandha, asparagus, pueraria, argyreia, dioscorea, mucuna, and piper, has been studied as an aid to coping with the stress of military combat. A double-blind study found that soldiers performed similarly in a set of mental and psychological tests after an eight-day combat mission whether they were given two capsules daily (exact content not revealed) of this formula or a placebo.20 This suggests there was no real benefit of the herbal formula under these conditions.

What Are Star Ratings?
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Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

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Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)

The health applications for ashwagandha in traditional Indian and Ayurvedic medicine are extensive. Of particular note is its use against tumors, inflammation (including arthritis), and a wide range of infectious diseases.21 The shoots and seeds are also used as food and to thicken milk in India. Traditional uses of ashwagandha among tribal peoples in Africa include fevers and inflammatory conditions.21 Ashwagandha is frequently a constituent of Ayurvedic formulas, including a relatively common one known as shilajit.

References

1. Bone K. Clinical Applications of Ayurvedic and Chinese Herbs. Queensland, Australia: Phytotherapy Press, 1996, 137-41.

2. Wagner H, Nörr H, Winterhoff H. Plant adaptogens. Phytomedicine 1994;1:63-76.

3. Anabalgan K, Sadique J. Antiinflammatory activity of Withania somnifera. Indian J Exp Biol 1981;19:245-9.

4. Bhattacharya SK, Kumar A, Ghosal S. Effects of glycowithanolides from Withania somnifera on an animal model of Alzheimer's disease and perturbed central cholinergic markers of cognition in rats. Phytother Res 1995;9:110-3.

5. Safayhi H, Mack T, Saieraj J, et al. Boswellic acids: Novel, specific, nonredox inhibitors of 5-lipoxygenase. J Pharmacol Exp Ther 1992;261:1143-6.

6. Kimmatkar N, Thawani V, Hingorani L, Khiyani R. Efficacy and tolerability of Boswellia serrata extract in treatment of osteoarthritis of knee - a randomized double blind placebo controlled trial. Phytomedicine 2003;10:3-7.

7. Sontakke S, Thawani V, Pimpalkhute S, et al. Open, randomized, controlled clinical trial of Boswellia serrata extract as compared to valdecoxib in osteoarthritis of knee. Indian J Pharmacol 2007;39:27-9.

8. Kulkarni RR, Patki PS, Jog VP, et al. Treatment of osteoarthritis with a herbomineral formulation: A double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study. J Ethnopharmacol 1991;33:91-5.

9. Wagner H, Nörr H, Winterhoff H. Plant adaptogens. Phytomedicine 1994;1:63-76.

10. Bone K. Clinical Applications of Ayurvedic and Chinese Herbs. Queensland, Australia: Phytotherapy Press, 1996, 137-41.

11. Brekhman II, Dardymov IV. New substances of plant origin which increase nonspecific resistance. Annu Rev Pharmacol 1969;9:419-30 [review].

12. Panossian A, Wikman G, Wagner H. Plant adaptogens. III. Earlier and more recent aspects and concepts on their mode of action. Phytomedicine 1999;6:287-300 [review].

13. Rege NN, Thatte UM, Dahanukar SA. Adaptogenic properties of six rasayana herbs used in Ayurvedic medicine. Phytother Res 1999;13:275-91 [review].

14. Wagner H, Nörr H, Winterhoff H. Plant adaptogens. Phytomedicine 1994;1:63-76.

15. Bhattacharya S, Goel R, Kaur R, Ghosal S. Anti-stress activity of sitoindosides VII and VIII, new acylsterylglucosides from Withania somnifera. Phytother Res 1987;1:32-39.

16. Grandhi A, Mujumdar AM, Patwardhan B. A comparative pharmacological investigation of Ashwagandha and Ginseng. J Ethnopharmacol 1994;44:131-5.

17. Dhuley JN. Effect of ashwagandha on lipid peroxidation in stress-induced animals. J Ethnopharmacol1998;60:173-8.

18. Bhattacharya SK, Muruganandam AV. Adaptogenic activity of Withania somnifera: an experimental study using a rat model of chronic stress. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 2003;75:547-55.

19. Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, Anishetty S. A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian J Psychol Med 2012;34:255-62.

20. Gopinathan PM, Grover SK, Gupta AK, Srivastava KK. Effects of a composite Indian herbal preparation on combat effectiveness in low-intensity-conflict operations. Mil Med1999;164:814-9.

21. Duke JA. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985, 514-5.

22. Bone K. Clinical Applications of Ayurvedic and Chinese Herbs. Queensland, Australia: Phytotherapy Press, 1996, 137-41.

23. Ashwagandha. NIH US National Library of Medicine: Medline Plus [last reviewed 2017 Oct 31]. Available from URL: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/953.html#Safety.

24. Mills E, Dugoua J, Perri D, Koren G. Herbal Medicines in Pregnancy and Lactation: An Evidence-Based Approach. London, England:Taylor and Francis;2006:35.

25. Dhar N, Razdan S, Rana S, et al. A Decade of Molecular Understanding of Withanolide Biosynthesis and In Vitro Studies in Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal: Prospects and Perspectives for Pathway Engineering. Front Plant Sci 2015;6:1031.

26. Mirjalili M, Moyano E, Bonfill M, et al. Steroidal lactones from Withania somnifera, an ancient plant for novel medicine. Molecules 2009;14:2373–93.

27. Prabu P, Panchapakesan S. Prenatal developmental toxicity evaluation of Withania somnifera root extract in Wistar rats. Drug Chem Toxicol 2015;38:50–6.

28. Moteetee A, Seleteng Kose L. Medicinal plants used in Lesotho for treatment of reproductive and post reproductive problems. J Ethnopharmacol 2016;194:827–49.

29. Gardner C, McGuffin M, eds. American Herbal Product Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook, Second Edition. Boca Raton, FL:CRC Press;2013:936.

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The information presented by TraceGains is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2020.

Copyright © 2020 TraceGains, Inc. All rights reserved.

The information presented by TraceGains is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2020.