Ashwagandha or Withania somnifera is one of the best adaptogenic herb. WS is able to penetrate the vitiating cycle of stress in which we find ourselves.
Withania somnifera energizes our system to help us fight with stress in easier and better way i.e. we are less susceptible to stressful conditions. Our threshold to withstand stress is raised.
Our immune system, nerves and hormones are better reset to healthier state so that we get truly great adaptogenic effect.
Adaptogenic effect causes us to adapt better to the physical and psychological stressful conditions. These can be diseases or daily conditions that we face. With Ashwagandha, we find ourselves in empowered condition to deal with various kind of stress.
Adaptogenic Herbs Are Amphoteric:
The word adaptogen was first defined by Russian scientist Brekhman who was researching extensively on Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus). He defined adaptogen as:
- Safety of adaptogen on the organism.
- A wide range of regulatory activity that acts only against the actual challenge to the system.
- One that has a normalizing action irrespective of the direction of the underlying pathological changes.
- One that acts through a nonspecific mechanism to increase non-specific resistance (NSR) against harmful influences by wide spectrum of stress causing physical, chemical and biological factors.
WS exert its medicinal effect due to steroidal lactones and alkaloids. These act as hormonal precursors that can be used by body to convert into human physiological hormones as and when required.
When some hormone is in excess, the precursor binds to hormone receptor site in the cells without being converted to actual hormone and it blocks the absorption of the actual hormone and saves our body.
When some hormone is deficient, the precursors are converted to actual hormones and exert their effect. In this way, these adaptogenic herbs are thus amphoteric i.e. they help us by regulating important physiological conditions by either increasing or decreasing them as and when required.
Adaptogenic & Cardio-protective Ashwagandha:
Hindustan Antibiotics Ltd. Pune, India, based Toxicology & Pharmacology Research Center based scientists found adaptogenic and cardioprotective action of Ashwagandha in frogs and rats.
Adaptogenic activity of Withania somnifera root extract was evaluated in Chronic Stress rat models against adaptogens like Panax ginseng. CS induced significant hyperglycaemia, glucose intolerance, increase in plasma corticosterone levels, gastric ulcerations, male sexual dysfunction, cognitive deficits, immunosuppression and mental depression.
The results indicate significant anti-stress activity in WS extracts comparable to Panax ginseng.
Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2003 Jun;75(3):547-55.
Department of Pharmacology, Postgraduate Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Calcutta University, 244 B Acharya JC Bose Road, Calcutta 700 020, India.
Ashwagandha Beneficial In Stress Induced Neuronal Degeneration:
Shukla et al reported the protective effect of Withania somnifera and Semecarpus anacardium in Hippocampus of Swiss albino rats in stress induced neuronal degeneration.
Interestingly, after the treatment with S. ancardium cells demonstrating degenerating characteristics was significantly reduced (80%) as compared to treatment with W. somnifera. Study suggests that probably both the herbal drugs have cytoprotective properties.
Sharma K, Bhatnagar M.
Department of Zoology, M.L.S. University, Udaipur 313 001, India.
Adrenocorticosterone Alterations In Albino Rats Treated With Adaptogens:
The levels of corticosterone were estimated by the HPLC method in the adrenal glands of stressed (5 h constant swimming) male albino mice treated with Trichopus zeylanicus, Withania somnifera and Panax ginseng preparations and compared with non-treated stressed and normal controls.
The treatments increased the corticosterone levels in all the groups. The physical endurance (increased survival time) of swimming mice also increased in all the treated groups, except in the group treated with Withania somnifera powder (500 mg/kg, p.o.).
The results indicate that we are in a better state to fight stress.
Department of Natural Products, National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER), Sector 67, S.A.S. Nagar (Mohali), Near Chandigarh – 160062, India.
WS & Chronic Stress:
The antioxidant activity of Withania somnifera (WS) glycowithanolides was assessed in chronic footshock stress induced changes in rat brain frontal cortex and striatum.
The results indicate that, at least part of chronic stress-induced pathology may be due to oxidative stress, which is benefited by WSG, lending support to the clinical use of the plant as an antistress adaptogen.
Bhattacharya A, Ghosal S, Bhattacharya SK.
Drug Research and Development Centre, Calcutta, India.
Preventing Stress Related Ulcer:
A recent double blind study revealed that Ashwagandha prevented stress related ulcers and Vitamin C deficiency and increased energy and endurance under stress.