Ashwagandha Supplements: what they do, how they work, and the best products to try.
The sweats, the restlessness, the irritability, and that on-edge feeling are all not-so-fun symptoms of anxiety. We all experience stress at some point or another, but an unlucky 40 million of us Americans experience bouts of anxiety on the regular, especially now that we’ve experienced a global pandemic that’s uprooted every sense of normal we once knew, exacerbating stress and causing surges in stress-related diseases. And while therapy, medication, and meditation practices can be used to treat anxiety, so can one of the oldest natural remedies around: ashwagandha. Ahead, everything you need to know about the trending supplement.
Ashwagandha to relieve anxiety
This ancient Ayurvedic herb hails from the ashwagandha plant and has been used for thousands of years as a stress- and anxiety-relieving herbal medicine. “In modern clinical practice, ashwagandha is used as an adrenal adaptogen, meaning it modulates the adrenal response in our bodies,” explains Mark Iwanicki, ND, LAc, Naturopathic doctor and licensed acupuncturist. “If we are too stressed and pumping out too much cortisol, ashwagandha can help lower cortisol and the stress response, and if we are fatigued and running on too little cortisol, ashwagandha can help boost up the adrenal response and increase our energy.”
Since stress and anxiety are intricately linked, it’s beneficial that ashwagandha can mitigate the effects of both. One study published in the journal Medicine documented these effects. Out of 60 participants, those who took 240 mg of ashwagandha extract per day for a 60-day period experienced a reduction in anxiety symptoms as compared to the group that was given a placebo.
What to look for in an ashwagandha supplement
When choosing an ashwagandha product, Canada-based naturopathic doctor and birth doula, Sarah Connors, ND, recommends opting for a recognized, reputable brand that has a long history (or established credibility if they are newer) for producing good quality supplements. “This is important to make sure that the ingredients in the product are actually what is in the bottle and they are actually good quality,” she says. She also suggests checking if the brand is third-party tested. “They should use recognized labs to test for the quality of the ingredients they are putting in the product and that they are not filled with chemicals or fillers,” she adds.
The best ashwagandha supplements to reduce anxiety
Here, doctors share the best ashwagandha supplements they recommend to their patients to help with anxiety.
Naturopathic doctor and clinical nutritionist David Friedman, N.D., D.C., likes this ashwagandha supplement because it’s NPA A-rated GMP certified, meaning it’s been lab-tested for potency, stability and product formulation and it’s also packaged in the USA by a family-owned company. It comes in a capsule form that you can take three times daily for optimal results.
“Herb Pharm uses dry whole root Certified Organic Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) plants rapidly absorbed in a liquid extract,” explains Dr. Friedman. “In addition to being free of alcohol, animal by-products and gluten, this brand uses stringent quality control standards including herb potency assured through High-Performance Thin Layer Chromatography (HPTLC) analysis.” He recommends taking a full squeeze of the dropper in 2 ounces of water 2-3 times daily.
Functional nutritional therapy practitioner Tansy Rodgers, F.N.T.P., is a big fan of this brand because of how clean it is. “Not only is it organic, but it comes in a non-gmo bovine gelatin capsule that is ideal for people who are sensitive to capsules,” she says. “You can take this really any time of the day that you have stress or if you need assistance in your other health goals such as balancing out your hormones.”
Ancient Nutrition’s Organic Ashwagandha Tablets feature two types of ashwagandha: Organic Fermented Ashwagandha Root and Organic Ashwagandha Root and Leaf Extract. It also has Organic Fermented Black Pepper Root to help with absorption. In addition to being organic, it’s also keto- and paleo-friendly, made without nuts, dairy or gluten and is also vegan.
This USDA-certified organic root powder is sourced direct from India, is third-party lab tested for purity and packed in a resealable bag to maintain freshness, notes Dr. Friedman. Their product is Gluten-free, and Non-GMO Project Verified. “It makes a delicious addition to a banana smoothie,” he says. His recommended serving size is ½ tbsp (2 grams) per use taken 1-2 times per day.
These liquid phyto-caps contain the equivalent of 2,700 mg of dry Ashwagandha root to help you cope with stress and ease the symptoms of anxiety. In addition to being certified organic, this brand is committed to using only non-GMO ingredients and has their products purity tested, passing testing for microbial, heavy metal and pesticide to name a few.
“This product is super clean and high quality! It is only made with organic ashwagandha herb and organic ashwagandha extract, helping it to be held together,” says Rodgers. In addition to being in a tablet form (free from a capsule), they do not contain any additives or harmful ingredients. “This would be a great supplement to take at night when you are feeling the need to wind down or decrease stress so you have a more peaceful sleep,” adds Rodgers.
This ashwagandha supplement also contains black pepper extract, which has anti-inflammatory properties and can also help lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels. It’s formulated without fillers, preservatives, soy, gluten and GMO.
For those looking for a tea instead of pill or powder form we’ve got your back. This certified-organic tea contains a perfectly balanced blend of ashwagandha and tulsi (holy basil), which offers a host of benefits for your brain and body, including a reduction in stress and anxiety and eased joint pain and inflammation.
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