Does ashwagandha affect specific mental health conditions?

    Last Updated: November 3, 2023

    Ashwagandha’s potential to moderate the HPA axis, as well as GABAergic and serotonergic activity, may explain at least some of its proposed effects on mental health, but more research is needed to better understand the underlying mechanisms.[1] In a rodent study, ashwagandha promoted social interaction and attenuated the negative effects of prolonged isolation on social function in rats.[2] It is not clear whether the same effects might be seen in humans, but this could be a well-timed avenue for further research to explore. Ashwagandha’s anti-stress effects seem to be related to corticosterone signaling and suppression of neuronal excitation (through modulating nNOS and glutamate signaling) in response to stress. It may also exert some anxiety-reducing effects secondary to the anti-stress properties, via serotonergic and GABAergic signaling. Even lower doses of ashwagandha appear to potentiate the effects of any GABAergic anxiolytic, including alcohol consumption.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9][2][10] In human trials, reduced anxiety has been observed with doses starting at 300 mg, daily up to 12,000 mg/day of ashwagandha over periods ranging from 4–8 weeks. For general stress reduction that hasn’t reached the point of anxiety, 300–600 mg daily appears to be sufficient. [11][12][13][14][15][16][17]

    In animal studies, ashwagandha appears to exert antidepressant effects on its own with a potency comparable to antidepressant medication.[18][2][19] In human studies, 200–400 mg of ashwagandha daily over the course of 30–60 days reduced symptoms of depression in participants with elevated levels of stress.[20][21]

    Ashwagandha may also be helpful in mitigating the signs and symptoms associated with other psychological conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and/or obsessive compulsive disorder. However, more evidence is needed to establish whether any clear effect exists for these specific conditions.[22][23][24][25]

    References

    1. ^Speers AB, Cabey KA, Soumyanath A, Wright KMEffects of (Ashwagandha) on Stress and the Stress- Related Neuropsychiatric Disorders Anxiety, Depression, and Insomnia.Curr Neuropharmacol.(2021)
    2. ^Gupta GL, Rana ACProtective effect of Withania somnifera dunal root extract against protracted social isolation induced behavior in rats.Indian J Physiol Pharmacol.(2007)
    3. ^Bhattacharya SK, Bhattacharya A, Sairam K, Ghosal SAnxiolytic-antidepressant activity of Withania somnifera glycowithanolides: an experimental studyPhytomedicine.(2000 Dec)
    4. ^Bhatnagar M, Sharma D, Salvi MNeuroprotective effects of Withania somnifera dunal.: A possible mechanismNeurochem Res.(2009 Nov)
    5. ^Singh B, Saxena AK, Chandan BK, Gupta DK, Bhutani KK, Anand KKAdaptogenic activity of a novel, withanolide-free aqueous fraction from the roots of Withania somnifera Dun.Phytother Res.(2001-Jun)
    6. ^Singh B, Chandan BK, Gupta DKAdaptogenic activity of a novel withanolide-free aqueous fraction from the roots of Withania somnifera Dun. (Part II).Phytother Res.(2003-May)
    7. ^Kaur P, Mathur S, Sharma M, Tiwari M, Srivastava KK, Chandra RA biologically active constituent of withania somnifera (ashwagandha) with antistress activity.Indian J Clin Biochem.(2001-Jul)
    8. ^Bredt DS, Glatt CE, Hwang PM, Fotuhi M, Dawson TM, Snyder SHNitric oxide synthase protein and mRNA are discretely localized in neuronal populations of the mammalian CNS together with NADPH diaphorase.Neuron.(1991-Oct)
    9. ^Dawson TM, Bredt DS, Fotuhi M, Hwang PM, Snyder SHNitric oxide synthase and neuronal NADPH diaphorase are identical in brain and peripheral tissues.Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.(1991-Sep-01)
    10. ^Gupta GL, Rana ACEffect of Withania somnifera Dunal in ethanol-induced anxiolysis and withdrawal anxiety in rats.Indian J Exp Biol.(2008-Jun)
    11. ^Camellia Akhgarjand, Farzaneh Asoudeh, Amir Bagheri, Zahra Kalantar, Zahra Vahabi, Sakineh Shab-Bidar, Hamid Rezvani, Kurosh DjafarianDoes Ashwagandha supplementation have a beneficial effect on the management of anxiety and stress? A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trialsPhytother Res.(2022 Aug 25)
    12. ^Zhang W, Yan Y, Wu Y, Yang H, Zhu P, Yan F, Zhao R, Tian P, Wang T, Fan Q, Su ZMedicinal herbs for the treatment of anxiety: A systematic review and network meta-analysis.Pharmacol Res.(2022-May)
    13. ^K Chandrasekhar, Jyoti Kapoor, Sridhar AnishettyA 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 adultsIndian J Psychol Med.(2012 Jul)
    14. ^Cooley K, Szczurko O, Perri D, Mills EJ, Bernhardt B, Zhou Q, Seely DNaturopathic care for anxiety: a randomized controlled trial ISRCTN78958974PLoS One.(2009 Aug 31)
    15. ^Andrade C, Aswath A, Chaturvedi SK, Srinivasa M, Raguram RA double-blind, placebo-controlled evaluation of the anxiolytic efficacy ff an ethanolic extract of withania somniferaIndian J Psychiatry.(2000 Jul)
    16. ^Mamidi P, Thakar ABEfficacy of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera Dunal. Linn.) in the management of psychogenic erectile dysfunctionAyu.(2011 Jul)
    17. ^Sarris J, Ravindran A, Yatham LN, Marx W, Rucklidge JJ, McIntyre RS, Akhondzadeh S, Benedetti F, Caneo C, Cramer H, Cribb L, de Manincor M, Dean O, Deslandes AC, Freeman MP, Gangadhar B, Harvey BH, Kasper S, Lake J, Lopresti A, Lu L, Metri NJ, Mischoulon D, Ng CH, Nishi D, Rahimi R, Seedat S, Sinclair J, Su KP, Zhang ZJ, Berk MClinician guidelines for the treatment of psychiatric disorders with nutraceuticals and phytoceuticals: The World Federation of Societies of Biological Psychiatry (WFSBP) and Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT) Taskforce.World J Biol Psychiatry.(2022-Jul)
    18. ^Shah PC, Trivedi NA, Bhatt JD, Hemavathi KGEffect of Withania somnifera on forced swimming test induced immobility in mice and its interaction with various drugs.Indian J Physiol Pharmacol.(2006)
    19. ^Ahmed ME, Javed H, Khan MM, Vaibhav K, Ahmad A, Khan A, Tabassum R, Islam F, Safhi MM, Islam FAttenuation of oxidative damage-associated cognitive decline by Withania somnifera in rat model of streptozotocin-induced cognitive impairment.Protoplasma.(2013-Oct)
    20. ^Lopresti AL, Smith SJ, Malvi H, Kodgule RAn investigation into the stress-relieving and pharmacological actions of an ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studyMedicine (Baltimore).(2019 Sep)
    21. ^A Remenapp, K Coyle, T Orange, T Lynch, D Hooper, S Hooper, K Conway, H A HausenblasEfficacy of Withania somnifera supplementation on adult's cognition and moodJ Ayurveda Integr Med.(2021 Nov 25)
    22. ^Çakici N, van Beveren NJM, Judge-Hundal G, Koola MM, Sommer IECAn update on the efficacy of anti-inflammatory agents for patients with schizophrenia: a meta-analysis.Psychol Med.(2019-Oct)
    23. ^Chen WY, Liu HC, Cheng YC, Li H, Huang CC, Ding YW, Huang MC, Chiu CC, Tu YK, Kuo PHEffect of Pharmacological and Neurostimulation Interventions for Cognitive Domains in Patients with Bipolar Disorder: A Systematic Review and Network Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.Clin Epidemiol.(2021)
    24. ^Bhanu P S Kaurav, Manish M Wanjari, Amol Chandekar, Nagendra Singh Chauhan, Neeraj UpmanyuInfluence of Withania somnifera on obsessive compulsive disorder in miceAsian Pac J Trop Med.(2012 May)
    25. ^Daphna JoelCurrent animal models of obsessive compulsive disorder: a critical reviewProg Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry.(2006 May)