4 Ways Ashwagandha Can Boost Your Brain
Ashwagandha, also known as Withania Somnifera, is a staple of Ayurvedic medicine. It’s a jack of all trades, as far as holistic healing is concerned— so herbalists have utilized its healing constituents for thousands of years.
Its primary healing ability is being adaptogenic in nature. That means that it is first and foremost healing for the nervous system— which in turn supports your brain.
This adaptogenic super power can be broken down into 4 main ways that Ashwagandha can boost your brain.
Number 1: Ashwagandha helps reduce stress and anxiety levels, both in the moment and long term. Chronic stress can lead to an array of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and more serious mood disorders. Modern studies backup traditional medicine and have found that ashwagandha can significantly reduce cortisol levels, which brings you out of fight or flight mode. By reducing existing cortisol levels in the body, ashwagandha can help teach the body to better release stress as anxiety-inducing situations occur rather than storing it in your body which can cause more issues in the long run.
In one study, participants who took ashwagandha extract for eight weeks experienced significant reductions in anxiety and stress compared to the placebo group and had similar results as those taking allopathic medicines for anxiety disorders!
Number 2: Ashwagandha can help improve cognitive function, like processing and retaining information. Ashwagandha has this incredible ability because it contains the compound withanolides. Withanolides have proven to be helpful to the brain and its functions because it actively repairs tissues that are damaged by oxidation and stress. On top of that, ashwagandha naturally increases acetylcholine levels in the brain. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that is important for memory and learning. It is responsible for helping your brain send messages to the rest of the body.
One study showed that after eight weeks of using ashwagandha extract, the adults involved were able to react to new information more readily than those that took the placebo.
Number 3: Ashwagandha has been shown to help balance mood and lessen depression. I think we can all agree that dips in mental health can affect every part of our lives. The primary issue in adult Americans today is the lack of “happy hormones” serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin regulates your feelings of calm and dopamine helps you feel satisfaction when you complete a task. A deficit of those two things can lead to anxious behaviors and depressive tendencies. So modulating those to find homeostasis will bring your mood back to an even kilter and allow you to react to emotional situations in an appropriate way.
In a study of people with depression, the patients that took ashwagandha extract showed significant improvements in their symptoms compared to the placebo group and was found to be as affective as the modern medicines that the allopathic group took.
Number 4: Ashwagandha can improve the quality of your sleep. Sleep affects every part of your health, from immunity to mood to the strength of your cells themselves. Poor quality of sleep often leads to various mental health issues such as depression and anxiety because your body doesn’t have time to process the stress hormones of the day and rebuild. Ashwagandha increases levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that gears you down to relax after a long day and eventually calm your body down to sleep.
A study done on insomniacs showed that those who took ashwagandha extract for six weeks experienced significant improvement in their sleep quality compared to the placebo group and in turn decreased their anxiety and stress levels.
All in all— incorporating Ashwagandha into your routine would be super helpful if you experience things like: depression, poor sleep, or feel like your memory is not what it once was.
But as always, it is vitally important to discuss the addition of any herbal supplement with your healthcare team if you are taking medications or have been diagnosed with illnesses.