We live in stressful times, especially since we are still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic that has plagued our society since 2020. Unfortunately, the pandemic was not the only source of stress affecting citizens of the world. We must deal with daily stresses that can be overwhelming as they grow and are often inescapable, depending on the circumstances. Professional, personal, and financial stress are common among American citizens and can quickly overwhelm them if the causes of that stress are not resolved.
Stress relief has become an underappreciated but extremely important practice that is critical to people's mental health worldwide. The problem is that finding effective ways to stay calm and relaxed while still being able to fulfill your obligations can be challenging.
One method that has gained traction in recent years is using supplements to alleviate stress symptoms. One of the more recent additions to these supplements is ashwagandha, which has become a popular tool across the country. Ashwagandha's use might have become more commonplace, but its ability to alleviate stress and calm you down might be unclear.
Ashwagandha is a naturally occurring substance that might seem like a poor choice when coping with severe stress, but there are a few ways this product might be able to relax you.
#1: Blood Sugar Levels
One of the most misunderstood sources of irritability and stress is a more mundane aspect of human biology. Namely, blood sugar levels play an astonishingly large role in our ability to relax. Our emotional state is linked to our blood sugar levels since glucose is partially responsible for our energy levels. This is most commonly observed when we have not eaten for a substantial period, and our blood sugar levels begin to decrease.
You might notice you are more irritable when hungry and have not eaten much that day. This is because low glucose levels trigger hypoglycemia, adversely affecting our energy levels and tolerance for stress and irritation. Ironically, this means those Snickers commercials about not being yourself when hungry have scientific validity.
Unfortunately, the reverse is also true, and excessively high blood sugar levels can cause discomfort and irritability. Hyperglycemia can cause similar mood disruptions to hypoglycemia, which makes having too much blood sugar equally stressful. Irregular blood sugar levels are highly detrimental to your stress levels and health.
Fortunately, recent research has linked the use of ashwagandha to regulating blood sugar levels. While this research was not performed with mood and stress regulation in mind, it did prove ashwagandha is a capable agent for lowering blood sugar levels.
The research in question was assessed in a review where 24 unique studies were evaluated for ashwagandha's effects on blood sugar levels. Five of these studies were conducted specifically on diabetes patients, which has demonstrated ashwagandha's beneficial effects while not strictly related to mood regulation.
The studies all showed a pattern of lowered blood sugar in the subjects, including diabetic patients. This effect has been linked to a compound called withaferin A which is prevalent in ashwagandha. Withaferin A is known for antidiabetic qualities that allow it to reduce the blood sugar content in the body. By returning glucose levels to normal, the irritation inherent in hyperglycemia can be alleviated, and you will feel calmer.
#2: Stress and Anxiety Relief
While blood sugar is an indirect cause of irritability, stress and anxiety directly influence your ability to relax. Anxiety is a very common issue, usually stoked by stressful events in life, such as professional and financial obligations that we struggle to satisfy. This stress can make it impossible to relax since we are agitated trying to figure out solutions to stressful situations.
Unfortunately, our capacity for problem-solving is often inhibited by our stress levels, and it becomes necessary to reduce that stress so we can approach the issue rationally. This stress relief is part of what has made ashwagandha a popular supplement.
Studies conducted on ashwagandha have identified a chemical effect of the plant on stress levels that have made it viable as a stress relief tool. Specifically, ashwagandha has been found to control stress mediators in the body. Heat shock proteins (Hsp70), cortisol, and c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase (JNK-1) all respond to stress and cause a physiological response to stress that can be debilitating. Ashwagandha has also been found to inhibit the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which regulates our body's stress response.
These benefits have been corroborated through a small study in which 58 subjects were divided into 3 groups:
- Test Group A: Test group A consisted of participants who were given 250 mg of ashwagandha extract.
- Test Group B: Test group B consisted of participants who were given 600 mg of ashwagandha extract.
- Control Group: The control group consisted of participants who were given a placebo.
The study had each group take their supplement for 8 weeks before the researchers could analyze the results. By the end of the 8 weeks, the participants taking ashwagandha extract showed reduced stress and cortisol levels compared to the placebo group. The test groups also enjoyed better sleep quality compared to the placebo group. This study actively demonstrated the benefits ashwagandha offers for managing stress and anxiety by inducing a biological countermeasure to stress.
While one study might not be overly reassuring, a second study evaluating ashwagandha's effects on anxiety was conducted. This second study had 60 subjects divided into 2 groups:
- Test Group: The test group consisted of participants who were given 240 mg of ashwagandha extract.
- Control Group: The control group consisted of participants who were given a placebo.
This study lasted 60 days, with the subjects taking their respective supplements throughout the study. By the end of the test period, the participants in the test groups showed demonstrable reductions in anxiety. These results further corroborate the beneficial effects of ashwagandha for helping with stressors that might make it difficult to relax or remain calm. The studies are still young, and more research is being done to confirm these effects, but the initial results are extremely promising for anyone dealing with stress or anxiety.
#3: Mental Health
While anxiety is a mental health issue, other conditions are known to inhibit our ability to relax. One of the most common mental health conditions associated with anxiety is depression, which is also one of the most lethal. Depression is commonly linked to suicide and self-harm and does not lend itself to calm or relaxation. Depression and anxiety go hand-in-hand since the anxiety of life can lead to the factors in life that depress you. Depression requires treatment from a psychological professional to see genuine results, but it is possible to supplement your treatment.
Ashwagandha has already demonstrated effectiveness in treating anxiety, but further studies have been used to assess its benefits for more advanced mental health issues like depression. One of the more interesting studies used ashwagandha as a supplement for schizophrenic patients exhibiting symptoms of anxiety and depression. The participants of this study's test group were given 1,000 mg of ashwagandha extract for 12 weeks. The participants in the test group demonstrated reduced levels of depression and anxiety compared to the placebo group.
There has even been limited research to suggest ashwagandha can mitigate certain symptoms of bipolar disorder. Unfortunately, the studies surrounding ashwagandha and bipolar disorder are extremely underdeveloped and require further research. However, using ashwagandha to treat bipolar disorder could become a vital development since bipolar disorder can severely affect your ability to relax or keep calm.
Bipolar disorder can generate manic or hypomanic states, which prevent you from slowing down and relaxing. Hypomania is far more severe than mania and can last several days, but both states can send you into overdrive and prevent you from experiencing any relaxed state.
The study suggests that ashwagandha can help with certain cognitive dysfunction associated with certain forms of bipolar. Remember that the study is old, and more research is essential to ashwagandha being a viable supplement for this specific mental health disorder, especially since the study was conducted in line with an outdated version of the DSM.
While treating mental health is extremely important, and ashwagandha can yield substantial results, it is not the only concern. Ashwagandha's benefits for helping you relax go beyond the mental, though mental health is half the battle.
When we think about keeping calm and being able to relax, we tend to default to the mental side of the concept. While stress is a leading issue that can severely impact our ability to relax and rest, we also need to consider the physical side. Physical discomfort is one of the most common causes that inhibit your ability to relax.
When we are in a state of physical discomfort, it can be impossible to relax or remain calm because the discomfort forces us to seek relief. One of the more common sources of physical discomfort is inflammation, which is part of the body's healing process.
While essential to the body's recovery from physical injury, inflammatory responses are painful and can disrupt your ability to rest comfortably. Without comfort, remaining calm or relaxed is essentially impossible. Fortunately, ashwagandha appears to have anti-inflammatory effects that might be able to mitigate the discomfort caused by your body's inflammatory response. It does this using the withaferin A we covered in the first section, which is known to target inflammatory pathways.
In 2008, a study was conducted on adults dealing with stress-induced inflammation causing severe discomfort. The patients in the study's test group were given ashwagandha extract for 60 days to combat the inflammation. After the study concluded, the test group showed significantly reduced C-reactive protein levels. C-reactive protein is one of the main inflammatory markers in the body, which reinforces the claim that ashwagandha can combat inflammation.
Like most of ashwagandha's benefits, the studies on its anti-inflammatory effects are still in progress, and the results are still preliminary. The promising nature of these results remains a cause for optimism in ashwagandha's potential to improve comfort so you can relax.
#5: Sleep Aid
The final benefit ashwagandha can offer to help you remain calm is its potential use as a sleep aid. Generally, insomnia is a result of anxiety or excess energy, both of which are mutually exclusive to our ability to relax. Furthermore, a lack of sleep causes irritability and stress, which generates a cycle of discomfort and discontent. However, ashwagandha's beneficial effects are being studied as a supplement for combatting insomnia and improving sleep quality.
One study took a sample of 50 adults between the ages of 65 to 80. The test group was given 600 mg of ashwagandha extract over 12 weeks and showed remarkably improved sleep quality and mental awareness. While the benefits of ashwagandha as a sleep aid are still being assessed, it shows that ashwagandha might have a greater capacity for calming the mind than initially believed.
Keep it All Natural!
Ashwagandha is a very interesting plant that has begun to shine in modernized holistic medicine. While many of the issues preventing us from relaxing require professional care to resolve, ashwagandha can be a powerful supplement to those treatments. Mental health and physical discomfort are major detriments to our ability to relax and keep calm, but ashwagandha is showing immense promise in alleviating those issues. The only problem left is acquiring an ashwagandha supplement you can rely on.
We at Bella All Natural might be able to help with that final concern. Since our founding, we have maintained that the best tools are the ones that are naturally occurring. As a result, we have built our company around providing supplements using natural ingredients that you can use to combat health issues.
Among our product line is our Golden Ashwagandha powder, 2 scoops of which can provide the necessary daily intake of ashwagandha to experience its benefits. Our product might be for you if you have difficulty relaxing or finding calm in a stressful life. So, feel free to visit our website to try a jar of our Golden Ashwagandha. Regardless of your decision, remember always to keep it All Natural!