Ashwagandha extract shows ‘potent immune-stimulatory properties’: Study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© azatvaleev / Getty Image
© azatvaleev / Getty Image

Related tags ashwagandha immune support Immune health

Daily supplementation with a standardized root and leaf ashwagandha extract (Shoden) may improve immune health markers in healthy adults, says data from a randomized, placebo-controlled trial.

Data published in Journal of Clinical Medicine ​indicated that supplementation with a low dose (60 mg) standardized ashwagandha extract (35% withanolide glycosides) may modulate the innate and adaptive immune systems in healthy subjects and significantly improve their immune profile.

“The results of this study demonstrate that [Ashwagandha] of defined chemical signature with its immune-stimulatory activities is a valuable addition in the immunity-boosting herbal supplements,”​ wrote the researchers, led by Ajit Tharakan from the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine.

“These effects span both innate and adaptive immunity, which may partially explain its traditional use as a Rasayana or rejuvenating herb with anti-stress properties.”


According to a monograph from the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP), Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera​) 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.

Shoden ashwagandha was developed by Arjuna Natural Private Ltd., and the company provided the supplements and placebo for the new study. NutriScience Innovations is the exclusive distributor of Shoden in North America.

“This study has implications for overall health and wellness”

Commenting on the study, Michael Lelah, PhD, NutriScience’s Chief Science Officer, told NutraIngredients-USA: “This latest human immune clinical trial is a first for ashwagandha and comes at a time when there is a need for new innovative herbal extracts with multiple benefits for consumers.

“The results of this RCT study show that a low-dose, modern, high-potency ashwagandha extract can upregulate both the innate and adaptive immune systems in the body. Our immune systems are tied to many other biochemical and cellular processes in the body and thus this study has implications for overall health and wellness.

“Shoden is a new generation of a high potency, sustainable ashwagandha extract made using modern extraction technology, but derived from traditional Indian Ayuvedic knowledge,”​ added Dr Lelah.

Study details

The new pilot, randomized, and controlled clinical study included 24 healthy men and women aged between 45 and 72 who were randomly assigned to receive either 60 mg of the Ashwagandha extract or placebo for 30 days. This portion of the trial was blinded. This was followed by a second 30-day open-label intervention when participants in the placebo group were crossed over to the Shoden intervention, while the Shoden group continued with Shoden for another 30 days.

The results of the initial 30-day study showed that the ashwagandha extract upregulated both innate immune system (as assessed by measures of cytokines, T-cells, B-cells, NK cell) and the adaptive immune system, as evidenced by the impact on various antibodies (immunoglobulins), including IgA, IgGs, IgM.

Additionally, during the second 30 day open label intervention, the subjects originally in the placebo group experienced improvements in their immune response through upregulation of innate and adaptive markers, while those in the continued Shoden group experienced further improvements in immune health markers.

“This pilot, randomized, and controlled clinical study demonstrates for the first time that the leaf and root extract of WS standardized with withanolide glycosides possesses potent immune-stimulatory properties,”​ wrote the researchers.

Source: Journal of Clinical Medicine
2021, 10​(16), 3644; doi: 10.3390/jcm10163644
“Immunomodulatory Effect of​ Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) Extract—A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo Controlled Trial with an Open Label Extension on Healthy Participants”
Authors: A. Tharakan et al. 

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