Ashwagandha, the regenerative Ayurveda root
By the time we are 75, we will have slept for 25 years...One third of our life! (1)
Well, in the best cases...Because, unfortunately, sleep disorders are increasingly frequent and wide-ranging: light or chronic insomnia, delayed sleep phase syndrome, jet lag, irregular sleep-wake cycle ...
Sleep is the only way the body can recover its physical and mental abilities. An adult should be sleeping six hours a night (2). Sleep disorders therefore have disastrous consequences, ranging from weight gain to depression, and increased pain (1).
Ayurveda, traditional Indian medicine, has for more than 3,000 years prescribed consumption of an amazing plant as a natural remedy for sleep disorders.
Ashwagandha, the soothing tonic
Native to Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka, this plant from the solanaceae family can grow up to 1.5 m tall. Its Sanskrit name translates as ‘smell of horse’, a reference to the plant’s aroma (3).
Its other names reveal its main medicinal properties, which may seem contradictory. Its Latin name, Withania somnifera, evokes its sedative action, but it is also known as ‘Indian ginseng’ for its toning properties (4).
How can the same plant enhance two inverse functions?
Because of its adaptogenic properties. Like Rhodiola rosea and Panax ginseng, ashwagandha balances the body in stressful situations. It also helps to soothe during acute tension, or instead to stimulate during depressive episodes. This is why Ayurveda uses ashwagandha root to regulate immunity (7) and improve sexual function (8), two functions that are negative affected by stress.
The natural solution to sleep disorders
Ashwagandha root contains different active compounds: alkaloids and withanolides (steroidal lactones), including withaferin A and withanolide D (9,10).
The latter contribute to its anxiolytic and antidepressant properties (4).
One study highlighted its potential hypnotic action, thanks to the modulation of the GABAergic system (11) (gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) being the main neurotransmitter that decreases nerve activity and enables memorisation and sleep). In addition, ashwagandha root reduces levels of tribulin (marker for anxiety) in the brain and stabilises mood (12).
Various studies have compared the action of ashwagandha with that of known drugs. Taking a standardised extract of this plant has an anxiolytic effect similar to that to that of lorazepam (3,13), a molecule used to treat anxiety, and an antidepressant effect identical to that of imipramine (4,9).
While some sleep aids or anxiolytics on the market may cause memory loss or be addictive, ashwagandha does not have these drawbacks. Quite the opposite. Its root protects the central nervous system (5) and its main withanolides have been studied for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (14). Its relaxing and calming properties promote a restful sleep that will impart renewed daytime vitality.
We are interested in the wisdom of Ayurvedic traditional medicine, which has been recommending the use of ashwagandha to treat anxiety and insomnia for thousands of years
Because the effectiveness of this plant lies in its withanolide content, Anastore has developed a root extract standardised to contain 5% of these compounds from triterpene lactones, for proven soothing, antioxidant and adaptogenic effect, and action on the immune system.
Gérard, E. (1985). La médecine ayurvédique. Editions Dangles, St-Jean-de-Braye.
Singh et al. (2011) An overview on Ashwagandha: a Rasayana (rejuvenator) of Ayurveda. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med 8(5 Suppl): 208–213.
Mirjaili et al. (2009) Steroidal lactones from Withania somnifera, an ancient plant for novel medicine. Molecules 14(7): 2373-2393.
Bone and Mills (2013). Principles and practice of Phytotherapy. Second Edition, Elsevier.
Pratte et al. (2014) An alternative treatment for anxiety: a systematic review of human trial results reported for the ayurvedic herb ashwagandha (Withania somnifera). J Altern Complem Med 20 (12): 901–908.
Studies on the immunomodulatory effects of Ashwagandha. Mohammed Ziauddin et Al. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 1996
Evidence for free radical scavenging activity of Ashwagandha root powder in mice. Sunanda Panda and Anand Kar. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 1997
Jayanthi et al. (2012) Anti-depressant effects of Withania somnifera fat (ashwagandha ghrutha) extract in experimental mice. Int J Pharm Bio Sci Vol 3.
Grover et al. (2010) Inhibition of the NEMO/IKKb association complex formation, a novel mechanism associated with the NF-kB activation suppression by Withania somnifera’s key metabolite withaferin A. Grover et al. BMC Genomics 11(Suppl 4): S25.
Kumar and Kalonia (2008) Effect of Withania somnifera on sleep-wake cycle in sleep-disturbed rats: possible GABAergic mechanism. Indian J Pharm Sci 70(6): 806–810.
Anxiolytic-antidepressant activity of Withania somnifera glycowithanolides: an experimental study. S.K. Bhattacharya et Al. Phytomedicine. 2000
Manual de Fitoterapia. Castillo-García and Martínez-Solís (2011). Elsevier.
Kuboyama et al. (2014) Effects of Ashwagandha (roots of Withania somnifera) on neurodegenerative diseases. Biol Pharm Bull 37(6): 892–897.