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Scientific studies have suggested that ashwagandha might be beneficial for a number of conditions.
That said, researchers do not know a lot about how the herb reacts within the human body. Most studies so far have used animal or cell models, meaning that scientists do not know if the same results will occur in humans.
There is some evidence to support the use of ashwagandha for the following:
Ashwagandha may have a calming effect on anxiety symptoms when compared with the drug lorazepam, a sedative and anxiety medication.
A suggested that the herb had a comparable anxiety-reducing effect with lorazepam, suggesting that ashwagandha might be as effective for reducing anxiety. However, the researchers conducted this study in mice, not humans.
In a in humans, researchers found that taking a daily dose of 240 milligrams (mg) of ashwagandha significantly reduced people’s stress levels when compared with a placebo. This included reduced levels of cortisol, which is a stress hormone.
In another in humans, taking 250 mg or 600 mg of ashwagandha per day resulted in lower self-reported stress levels, as well as lower cortisol levels.
Although this research is promising, scientists need to collect much more data before recommending the herb to treat anxiety.
Ashwagandha may act as a pain reliever, preventing pain signals from traveling along the central nervous system. It may also have some anti-inflammatory properties.
For this reason, some research has shown it to be effective in treating forms of arthritis, including
A small in 125 people with joint pain found the herb to have potential as a treatment option for rheumatoid arthritis.
Some people use ashwagandha to boost their heart health, including:
However, there is little research to support these benefits.
One in humans suggested that ashwagandha root extract could enhance a person’s cardiorespiratory endurance, which could improve heart health. However, more research is necessary.
According to a , several studies have examined ashwagandha’s ability to slow or prevent loss of brain function in people with neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, , and
As these conditions progress, parts of the brain and its connective paths become damaged, which leads to loss of memory and function. This review suggests that when mice and rats receive ashwagandha during the early disease stages, it may be able to offer protection.
The same also describes a few promising studies that found that ashwagandha might be able to stop cell growth in certain cancers. This includes reducing lung tumors in animal studies.
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