RCT supports Ashwagandha root extract’s weight management potential

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

Chronic stress is a major global health concern. © iStock
Chronic stress is a major global health concern. © iStock

Related tags: Body mass index, Obesity, Body weight

Supplements of ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) root extract may help people with chronic stress manage their body weight, says a new study from India.

Chronic stress is a major global health concern, and is associated with a number of conditions, including depression, heart disease, and hypertension, and it has also been linked to weight gain and obesity.

Stress is responsible for about 225 million lost working days by American workers every year, according to the American Institute of Stress, resulting in about $80 billion in lost productivity.

New data from a study with 52 people with chronic stress indicated that eight weeks of supplementation with the Ayurvedic herb at a daily dose of 600 mg was associated with significant reductions in food cravings and improves eating behaviors, compared to placebo.

Ashwagandha supplementation also led to statistically significant reductions in body weight and body mass index in the study participants, wrote the researchers in the journal Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine​.

“Ashwagandha root extract can be useful for body-weight management in patients experiencing chronic stress. However, further studies are required to bolster the potential of Ashwagandha to prevent weight gain caused by long-term chronic stress,” ​wrote the researchers.

The flagship herb of Ayurveda


The Society for Ethnopharmacology recently named Ixoreal BioMed the Herbal Industry Leader Award at its recent annual conference. The society said the award recognizes, “a company that has set an example of outstanding business practices or an organization that works to move the industry forward above and beyond normal business practices in the field of natural products”.

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.

The new study used Ixoreal Biomed’s KSM-66 Ashwagandha and Kartikeya Baldwa, Director of Ixoreal Biomed, told NutraIngredients-USA: “It is well known that the ashwagandha root has significant ability to reduce stress and cortisol. On this basis, many practitioners have believed that the root should help combat some of the effects of stress and cortisol, such as reactive eating and the reliance on food as a coping mechanism. However there was no direct evidence of this connection. This is the first study to show that ashwagandha can reduce food cravings and emotional eating mediated by stress relief.

"The authors have made an important contribution to the scientific literature on ashwagandha root extract for stress relief and body weight management, and we feel gratified that they picked KSM-66 Ashwagandha for this study." 

Study details

Over people were included in the double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either 300 mg of Ashwagandha or placebo twice daily for eight weeks, and primary results were assessed using the Perceived Stress Scale and Food Cravings Questionnaire. Secondary results were assessed using the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire and Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire, while serum cortisol, body weight, and BMI were also measured.

Results showed significant improvements in both primary and secondary measures.

For body weight, a 3% reduction was recorded in the Ashwagandha group after eight weeks, compared with 1.5% in the placebo group. For BMI, a 3% reduction was also recorded in the Ashwagandha group after eight weeks, which was significantly greater than the 1.4% reduction recorded in the placebo group.

“The potential of Ashwagandha as a natural anti-stress and antianxiety therapeutic has been strongly supported by previous researchers The results of the present study have taken this analysis a step further and demonstrated that Ashwagandha may provide a potential additional benefit of supporting the maintenance of normal weight (or even weight loss) in people living with chronic stress,” ​wrote the researchers.

“The results of the present study are consistent with those of previous studies, with Ashwagandha exhibiting a good safety profile and negligible adverse events.”

Source: Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1177/2156587216641830
“Body Weight Management in Adults Under Chronic Stress Through Treatment With Ashwagandha Root Extract - A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial”
Authors: D. Choudhary, S. Bhattacharyya, K. Joshi

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