Sustained release ashwagandha extract shows stress-reducing activity

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

©  eskymaks / Getty Images
© eskymaks / Getty Images

Related tags ashwagandha sustained release capsule stress management Sleep Cognitive function botanicals adaptogens

Ashwagandha root extract sustained-release capsules may boost memory and focus, while also improving sleep quality and lowering stress levels, says a new study.

The study used the Prolanza-branded ashwagandha product from Inventia Healthcare Ltd. and Laila Nutraceuticals, and found that 90 days of supplementation led to improvements in psychological well-being in addition to the benefits for cognition, sleep, and stress.

“In this first reported clinical study assessing the “sustained-release formulation” of Ashwagandha root extract, we demonstrated that consumption of Ashwagandha SR capsules for 90 days resulted in improved memory and focus, psychological well-being, and sleep quality and reduced stress levels,” ​wrote the researchers in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine​.

“We also showed that Ashwagandha SR capsules were safe when administered over the period of 90 days.

“Thus, these capsules can be used in a single daily dose as an effective adaptogen to improve cognitive abilities and reduce stress in otherwise healthy adults.”

The study was funded by Inventia Healthcare and Laila Nutraceuticals.


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.

According to HerbalGram’s​ Herb Market Report, sales of herbal supplements with Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera​) hit $31.7 million in the US Mainstream Multi-Outlet Channel for 2020, an increase of 185% over the previous year. An additional $13.5 million in sales were reported from the Natural Channel (a decrease of 1.2% from 2019).

The study adds to the ever-growing body of data supporting the potential benefits of Ashwagandha, which already include supporting a healthy response to stress, cognitive function, sleep, metabolic wellness, adrenal function, sports performance, and more.

Study details

The double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical study, led by scientists from Bengaluru Neuro Centre, Inventia Healthcare, and Laila Nutraceuticals, included 130 healthy, cognitively sound but stressed adults aged between 20 and 55. The participants were randomly assigned to receive either 300 mg per day of the sustained release ashwagandha product (Ashwagandha SR) or placebo for 90 days.

The study was performed during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in India when lockdowns were in effect and population data showed that stress and anxiety levels increased.

Results showed that cognitive scores increased, according to the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB). Specifically, significant improvements were recorded for visual memory, new learning, and working and sustained attention, compared to placebo.

The ashwagandha group also reported lower scores on the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) and lower serum cortisol levels. Higher scores were seen in the ashwagandha group on the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire (OHQ), added the researchers, while scores on the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) also improved, compared to placebo.

“This dual efficacy on cognitive abilities and sleep quality observed with Ashwagandha SR is beneficial, especially when considering the adverse effects of traditional anxiolytics (e.g., benzodiazepines) that cause sedation and impair cognitive abilities,” ​stated the researchers.

“Our study highlights the positive effects of Ashwagandha SR in reducing stress and improving overall psychological well-being and sleep quality during these testing times, further supporting the product’s efficacy.”

Source: Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2021 |Article ID 8254344 | doi: 10.1155/2021/8254344
“Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha Root Extract on Cognitive Functions in Healthy, Stressed Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study”
Authors: K. Gopukumar, et al.

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