This Secret Vitamin Reduces Stress and Cortisol

Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera, is an adaptogenic herb that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for over 3,000 years to help alleviate stress and promote relaxation. Adaptogens are natural substances that help the body adapt to stress by modulating the stress response and restoring balance in the body. One of the primary benefits of ashwagandha is its ability to lower cortisol levels, which can have a powerful impact on reducing stress and promoting overall health and wellness.

What is Cortisol?

Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. It is often referred to as the “stress hormone” because its primary function is to help the body respond to stressors by increasing blood sugar levels, suppressing the immune system, and increasing heart rate and blood pressure. While cortisol is an important hormone that helps us cope with stress, chronically elevated cortisol levels can have a negative impact on our health and well-being.

Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels have been linked to a number of health problems, including anxiety, depression, fatigue, weight gain, insomnia, and immune dysfunction. In fact, some studies suggest that chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels may increase the risk of developing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders.

Lowering Cortisol

This is where ashwagandha comes in. Studies have shown that ashwagandha can help lower cortisol levels and reduce the negative effects of chronic stress on the body. One study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that participants who took a standardized extract of ashwagandha root for 60 days had significantly lower cortisol levels than those who took a placebo. The study also found that the ashwagandha group had a significant reduction in perceived stress and improved overall quality of life compared to the placebo group.

Another study published in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine found that participants who took ashwagandha for eight weeks had significantly lower cortisol levels than those who took a placebo. The study also found that the ashwagandha group had significant improvements in stress-related symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, and social dysfunction.

Different Theories

So how exactly does ashwagandha help lower cortisol levels and reduce stress? One theory is that ashwagandha helps modulate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is the body’s primary stress response system. The HPA axis involves a complex interaction between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands, and is responsible for regulating cortisol levels in response to stress. Ashwagandha may help regulate the HPA axis by reducing the release of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), which is a hormone that stimulates the release of cortisol.

Another theory is that ashwagandha helps reduce oxidative stress in the body. Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the body’s ability to neutralize them with antioxidants. Chronic stress has been shown to increase oxidative stress in the body, which can contribute to inflammation and cellular damage. Ashwagandha has been shown to have antioxidant properties, which may help reduce oxidative stress and protect against cellular damage.

Other Health Benefits

In addition to its cortisol-lowering effects, ashwagandha has a number of other health benefits. It has been shown to improve cognitive function, reduce inflammation, and enhance immune function. It may also have anti-cancer properties and help improve cardiovascular health.

There are several different forms of ashwagandha available, including capsules, powders, teas, and tinctures. Capsules and tablets are the most common forms and are easy to take with a glass of water. Powders can be mixed into smoothies or other beverages and are a good option for those who prefer a more natural form of supplementation. Teas and tinctures are also available and are a good option for those who prefer to take their herbs in a more traditional form. It is important to choose a high-quality, standardized extract to ensure that you are getting a consistent dose of the active ingredients. As with any supplement or herb, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider before taking ashwagandha to ensure that it is safe and appropriate for your individual needs.