Ashwagandha root extracts shows anti-aging effect: Cell study

By Stephen Daniells

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Ashwagandha is a flagship herb in Ayurveda. Image © iStock / ziprashantzi
Ashwagandha is a flagship herb in Ayurveda. Image © iStock / ziprashantzi

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Extracts from Ashwagandha root may significantly increase telomerase activity, thereby protecting against telomere loss and potentially delaying aging, suggest new results from a cell study.

The aging and lifespan of normal, healthy cells are linked to the so-called telomerase shortening mechanism, which limits cells to a fixed number of divisions. During cell replication, the telomeres function by ensuring the cell's chromosomes do not fuse with each other or rearrange, which can lead to cancer. Elizabeth Blackburn, a telomere pioneer at the University of California San Francisco, likened telomeres to the ends of shoelaces, without which the lace would unravel.

Telomerase is a ribonucleoprotein that can arrest such telomere loss, and therefore offers a pathway to ameliorate the effects of age. 

Results published in Advances in Bioscience and Biotechnology​ indicated that incubating human HeLa cells with the commercially available KSM-66 Ashwagandha root extract led to an enhancement of approximately 45% in telomerase activity at a concentration of 10 to 50 micrograms.

“Given the exceptional necessity of the telomeres at the ends of the chromosomes for the maintenance and integrity of the chromosomes, it will be worthwhile to evaluate Ashwagandha under various adult onset disease conditions,”​ wrote Vasantharaja Raguraman and Jamuna Subramaniam from Sri Ramachandra University in India.

“Ashwagandha deserves to be evaluated as a potential anti-aging ayurvedic herbal preparation in higher organisms and the potential mechanism needs to be investigated.”

The flagship herb of Ayurveda

Ashwagandha has been gaining traction in the mainstream US market with consumers embracing its wide-ranging body of health benefits, which include supporting stress, cognitive function, sleep, metabolic wellness, adrenal function, sports performance, and more.

According to a monograph from the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP), the herb has a history of use in ayurvedic medicine that dates back as much as 4,000 years to the teaching of renowned scholar Punarvasu Atreya, and in subsequent works that make up the ayurvedic tradition. The name of the herb derives from Sanskrit, and means “smells like a horse”, which refers to the strong smell of the root which is said to be redolent of horse sweat or urine.

Kartikeya Baldwa, Director of Ixoreal Biomed, the marketer of KSM-66, said: “Ashwagandha is a flagship herb in Ayurveda that has been used as an adaptogen to rejuvenate health and maintain homeostasis in the human body. Ashwagandha has traditionally been used as an anti-aging agent, but there are only a few modern published papers studying such effects. This is the first published study to use a standardized, branded ashwagandha extract that show an anti-aging effect with a telomerase promotion effect in the human cell line.

“This study adds to the body of evidence supporting the use of KSM-66 Ashwagandha for anti-aging. There is a previously published paper demonstrating that KSM-66 leads to significant lifespan and activity expansion in Caenorhabditis elegans, a widely used animal model ​[Annals of Neuorscience, 2013, Vol. 20, pp. 13-16​]. This present study goes deeper in that it posits the mechanism by which KSM-66 can serve as an anti-aging agent in humans.”

Source: Advances in Bioscience and Biotechnology
2016, Volume 7, Pages 199-204, doi: 10.4236/abb.2016.74018
“Withania somnifera Root Extract Enhances Telomerase Activity in the Human HeLa Cell Line”
Authors: V. Raguraman, J.R. Subramaniam

Related topics Research Botanicals Healthy ageing

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