Latest Clinical Studies in Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha, popularly known as Indian Ginseng, is one of the most well-known and widely used Ayurvedic herbs. Helpful in various functions in the body from sleep, energy, and stress relief to rejuvenation, muscle strength, and joint health, the herb is popular for a valid reason.
Due to this versatility in human health, the herb is gaining more and more popularity amongst the herbalists from all backgrounds; naturopaths, Chinese medicine, and Western herbalists, especially in America.
Here’s a synopsis of the 7 latest clinical studies on Ashwagandha and what they revealed:
- Effect on physical strength
Researchers at Lindenwood University’s Exercise and Performance Nutrition Laboratory investigated the effects of Sensoril, a patented, aqueous extract of the roots and leaves of Ashwagandha on men.
This 12-week study revealed significant improvement in average squat power and peak bench press power in men who ingested 500 mg of this aqueous extract daily.
- Improvement in memory and cognitive function
Efficacy and safety of Ashwagandha root extract in improving memory and cognitive functions was studied in Chicago in 2017.
After eight weeks of study, the Ashwagandha treatment group demonstrated significant improvements in both immediate and general memory, as measured on Wechsler Memory Scale. Further, there was greater improvement in their executive function, sustained attention, and information-processing speed as indicated by the scores on the Eriksen Flanker task.
Thus, Ashwagandha root proved to be effective in enhancing both immediate and general memory in people with MCI as well as improving executive function, attention, and information processing speed.
- Effect on immune function
A study was conducted to investigate the immunologic effects of Ashwagandha on four types of immune cells in human beings.
Five participants were asked to consume 6 ml of Ashwagandha root extract twice daily for 96 hours. The root extract was given with whole milk. Their peripheral blood samples were collected at 0, 24, and 96 hours and compared for differences in cell surface expression of CD4, CD8, CD19, CD56, and CD69 receptors by flow cytometry.
Researchers observed a significant increase in the expression of CD4 on CD3+ T cells after 96 hours. CD56+ NK cells were also activated after 96 hours as evidenced by expression of the CD69 receptor. The results indicated a major change in immune cell activation in the participant’s sample.
- Stress and Anxiety Relief
An 8-week study was conducted to evaluate the safety and efficacy of a standardised root extract of Ashwagandha through a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial. 52 subjects suffering from chronic stress received either Ashwagandha (300 mg) or placebo twice daily.
Primary efficacy measures were Perceived Stress Scale and Food Cravings Questionnaire. Secondary efficacy measures were Oxford Happiness Questionnaire, Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire, serum cortisol, body weight, and body mass index (BMI).
Each participant was assessed at the start, at 4 weeks, and 8 weeks. Ashwagandha demonstrated significant improvements in primary and secondary measures and was found to be safe and tolerable. This study suggests that Ashwagandha root extract can be used for body weight management in adults under chronic stress.
- Focus and Concentration
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 20 healthy males were given 500 mg of Ashwagandha root extract for fourteen days. The participants showed significant cognitive improvement in reaction-time tests, discrimination tests, and in card sorting tests, among many others. These results prove Ashwagandha’s ability to support attention, memory, focus, concentration, and responsiveness and coordination between the mind and motor functions. 
A trial was conducted with healthy male volunteers aged fifty to sixty-nine. All the volunteers were given purified Ashwagandha powder in the dose of 3 grams per day for one year. After a year, these males showed an increase in blood counts, improved posture, and increased hair melanin (pigmentation of the hair). 
In another study, healthy children were given 2 grams of powdered Ashwagandha in milk and they experienced improvements in blood counts, body weight, and hand strength.
- Sleep and Emotional Health
A survey study was conducted with 218 healthy participants who were given 1200 mg of the Ashwagandha herb two times a day for one month. The participants noted 66.9% improvement in their sleep quality. This can be attributed to the decreased stress levels in the participants. 
The herb also demonstrated a positive effect of enhancing the participant’s emotional health by 42%. The positive effects on emotional health translated to the participants’ social life and social activities being improved by nearly 45.8%. The participants were able to participate in activities like visiting friends and relatives and enjoying social activities and hobbies in a much better way than before.
 Ziegenfuss TN, Kedia AW, Sandrock JE3, Raub BJ, Kerksick CM, Lopez HL.; 2018 Nov 20;10 ;https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30463324
 Choudhary, D., Bhattacharyya, S., & Bose, S. (2017). Journal of Dietary Supplements, 1-14. Chicago
 Mikolai J, Erlandsen A https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19388865, Murison A, Brown KA, Gregory WL, Raman-Caplan P, Zwickey HL J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Apr;15
 D Choudhary, et al. “Body Weight Management in Adults Under Chronic Stress Through Treatment with Ashwagandha Root Extract: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial.” J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. April 6, 2016.
 U Pingali, et al. “Effect of standardized aqueous extract of Withania somnifera on tests of cognitive and psychomotor performance in healthy human subjects.” Pharmacognosy Res. 6, no 1 (January 2014):12-8.
 Lakshmi-Chandra Mishra, Betsy Singh, and Simon Dagenais. “Scientific Basis for the Therapeutic Use of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha): A Review.” Alternative Medicine Review. 5, no 4 (2000):334-346
 Sebastian Pole, Ayurvedic Medicine: The Principles of Traditional Practice (London: Churchill Livingston, 2006), pp. 133-134.