Ashwagandha and Chronic Stress
Positive stress, also known as eustress, helps us to sharpen our edge and expand our comfort zones. It can give us increased energy and focus to accomplish our goals. An acute stress response increases our blood pressure, increases our heart rate, and super charges our muscles with glucose for fuel in order to possibly save our lives. But when stress becomes a persistent, lingering, chronic, low-grade response to everyday living, it can negatively impact our health. This kind of stress over the long term is associated with everything from fatigue to chronic headaches, irritability, changes in appetite and indigestion, skin problems, allergies, memory loss, low self-esteem, social withdrawal, high blood pressure, insomnia, hair loss, lowered sex drive and suppressed immunity. It’s not good. It can become a kind of self-perpetuating, “stressing about stress”, vicious cycle.
Getting 7-8 hours a night of quality sleep, exercise, yoga, meditation and breathing exercises are some basic lifestyle healthy habits that can help us manage stress. There is also a certain class of herbs that have become known as adaptogens for their ability to help us better adapt and deal with a heightened, chronic stress response. A true adaptogen must increase the body’s ability to resist physical, chemical, or biological agents, have a normalizing influence on the stress response, and be safe and without side effects at normal doses.
Ashwagandha is one of the most prized herbs in the Ayurvedic medicine materia medica. Ashwagandha falls under the adaptogen class of herbs, meaning it can safely be used long term to fortify and support the body and mind in response to life’s daily stressors.
Not all ashwagandha root and powder extractions are made equal though. At Flora, we opted to use KSM-66 Ashwagandha® in our new Stressveda™ formula. KSM-66 is made by a family-owned business in Rajasthan, India and has 14+ years of research and development behind it. They are a vertically-integrated company, meaning they oversee the creation of the root extract from farm to finished product. KSM-66 is made using only grade A roots and is extracted using ‘green chemistry’ with no use of alcohol or chemical solvents.
According to Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha is traditionally used for arthritic and rheumatic pains, insomnia, the cognitive decline of aging and promotion of conception.1 The modern research of clinical trials and pharmacological understanding of the main active compounds in ashwagandha have verified and backed up many of these traditional uses while uncovering even more benefits.
Human, placebo controlled clinical trials have found significant benefits for KSM-66 Ashwagandha® in the following areas:
- Stress and anxiety: 27.9% reduction in cortisol, 71.6-77% reduction in stress and anxiety test scores2
- Testosterone and male sexual health: 167% increase in sperm count, 53% increase in semen volume, 57% increase in sperm motility, 17% increase in testosterone levels3
- Female sexual health: significant improvements in arousal, lubrication, orgasm and sexual satisfaction4
- Cardio endurance: 5.7% increase in VO2 max and 9.5% increase in QoL (Quality of Life) measurements5
- Muscle strength and recovery: significant increases in muscle strength and size, decreases in exercise induced damage and 3.5% reduction in body fat and an 81% increase in testosterone levels compared to placebo6
- Stress and weight management: a 22% decrease in cortisol levels, 3% reduction in body weight, and significantly greater reductions than placebo on PSS (perceived stress scale) and FCQ (Food-Cravings Questionnaire-Trait) scores7
- Memory and cognition: significant improvements in working and general memory, executive function, sustained attention, and information processing speed based on a standard memory and cognition test8
- Sleep quality: significant improvements in sleep quality, time to fall asleep, and in reducing nervousness9
These studies typically lasted 8-12 weeks and for those in the ashwagandha group, they received 600 mg per day. Because stress can negatively impact our sleep quality, libido and cognitive health, it makes sense that by smoothing out our stress responses, ashwagandha can help support our health in these other areas too.
At Flora we have gone one step further in using KSM-66 Ashwagandha® in Stressveda™. We have added food-based vitamins to provide additional anti-aging, antioxidant support and to support the health of the nervous system. These include B vitamins, and vitamins A, C, D, E and K. These are made from fruits and vegetables like spinach, broccoli, carrot, sweet potato, orange, apple, strawberry, sunflower seed, and shiitake and maitake mushrooms. The fruits and vegetables are organically grown in the USA.
Experience for yourself the shift in vitality, energy and mood that Stressveda™ can bring.