Ashwagandha and depression are two subjects that have gained attention in recent times. Depression, which is a prevalent mental health condition affecting millions of people worldwide, can cause persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and disinterest in daily activities.
While there are various treatment options available for depression, some individuals prefer natural remedies such as herbs and supplements. One such popular herb that has gained attention as a potential treatment for depression is ashwagandha.
Ashwagandha, also known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry, is an ancient Ayurvedic herb that has been used for centuries in traditional medicine. It is known for its adaptogenic properties, which means it helps the body cope with stress and anxiety.
In recent years, research has also shown that ashwagandha may have potential benefits for people with depression.
In this article, we will explore the relationship between ashwagandha and depression. We will look at its potential benefits, recommended dosages, and any possible side effects.
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera, is a plant native to India, North Africa, and the Middle East. Its roots and berries have been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for centuries to treat a variety of health conditions.
Ashwagandha belongs to a class of herbs called adaptogens, which help the body cope with physical and emotional stress. It is also a rich source of antioxidants, which help protect the body against cellular damage caused by free radicals.
How Does Ashwagandha Work?
Ashwagandha works by regulating the levels of cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone” because it is released in response to physical and emotional stressors.
High levels of cortisol can contribute to anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders.
Studies have shown that ashwagandha can reduce cortisol levels in the body, leading to a decrease in stress and anxiety. It also increases the levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which are responsible for regulating mood and emotions.
Can Ashwagandha Help with Depression?
While there is still limited research on the effects of ashwagandha on depression, some studies have shown promising results. In a randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, 64 adults with chronic stress were given either a placebo or 300 mg of ashwagandha extract twice daily for 60 days.
The participants who took the ashwagandha extract reported significant reductions in stress and anxiety compared to those who took the placebo.
Another study published in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine found that a high-concentration full-spectrum ashwagandha root extract had antidepressant effects in rats.
While animal studies cannot always be translated to humans, these results suggest that ashwagandha may have potential benefits for people with depression.
How Much Ashwagandha Should You Take?
The recommended dosage of ashwagandha can vary depending on the form of the supplement and the reason for use. In general, it is recommended to start with a lower dose and gradually increase it as needed.
Here are some general guidelines for ashwagandha dosages:
- Ashwagandha powder: 1-2 teaspoons per day
- Ashwagandha capsules: 600-1200 mg per day
- Ashwagand liquid extract: 1-2 ml per day
It is important to note that ashwagandha may interact with certain medications, so it is important to talk to your doctor before taking ashwagandha supplements.
Are There Any Side Effects of Ashwagandha?
While ashwagandha is generally considered safe, some people may experience mild side effects, including:
- Upset stomach
It is also possible to have an allergic reaction to ashwagandha. If you experience any severe side effects or symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as difficulty breathing or swelling of the face, seek medical attention immediately.
How Can You Incorporate Ashwagandha into Your Routine?
There are several ways to incorporate ashwagandha into your routine. Some popular methods include:
- Ashwagandha powder: Mix ashwagandha powder with warm water or milk and drink it before bed. You can also add it to smoothies, teas, or other beverages.
- Ashwagandha capsules: Take ashwagandha capsules with water or juice as directed by the manufacturer.
- Ashwagandha liquid extract: Add ashwagandha liquid extract to water or juice and drink it as directed.
Can Ashwagandha Be Used Alongside Other Treatments for Depression?
Ashwagandha should not be used as a replacement for other treatments for depression, such as therapy or medication. However, it may be used as a complementary therapy to help alleviate symptoms of depression.
It is important to talk to your doctor before taking ashwagandha supplements, especially if you are currently taking medication for depression.
FAQs About Ashwagandha and Depression
Q: Is ashwagandha safe for everyone to take?
A: Ashwagandha is generally considered safe for most people to take. However, it may interact with certain medications, so it is important to talk to your doctor before taking ashwagandha supplements.
Q: How long does it take for ashwagandha to work?
A: The effects of ashwagandha can vary depending on the individual and the reason for use. Some people may notice a difference in their symptoms within a few days of taking ashwagandha supplements, while others may take several weeks to see results.
Q: Can ashwagandha be used to treat other health conditions?
A: Yes, ashwagandha has been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of health conditions, including anxiety, stress, and fatigue.
Ashwagandha and Depression – Our Final Thoughts
Ashwagandha is an ancient Ayurvedic herb that has gained popularity in recent years for its potential benefits for people with depression. While research on its effects is still limited, some studies have shown promising results.
Ashwagandha works by regulating cortisol levels in the body and increasing the levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. It is generally considered safe, but may interact with certain medications.
As with any supplement or treatment, it is important to talk to your doctor before taking ashwagandha supplements.