Ashwagandha may boost sleep quality, mental alertness in the elderly: Study

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / Wavebreakmedia
© Getty Images / Wavebreakmedia

Related tags: ashwagandha, Sleep, Brain health, adaptogen

A root extract of Ashwagandha may improve the quality of life, the quality of sleep, and mental alertness in the elderly, says a new study from India.

Twelve weeks of 600 mg per day of the Ashwagandha root extract KSM-66 from California-based Ixoreal Biomed led to significant improvements in the quality of sleep and mental alertness compared to placebo, according to findings published in Cureus​.

“Ashwagandha root extract could be an acceptable and admirable alternative supplement in improving various age-related health issues and may boost overall general wellbeing in an elderly person,”​ wrote the study’s authors.


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

According to HerbalGram’s​ 2018 Herb Market Report (published August 2019), sales of herbal supplements with Ashwagandha hit $7.5 million in the US Mainstream Multi-Outlet Channel for 2018, an increase of 165.9% over the previous. An additional $12.4 million in sales were reported from the Natural Channel (an increase of almost 17% from 2017).

Study details

Ashwagandha © Getty Images ziprashantz
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. The name of the herb derives from Sanskrit, and means “smells like a horse”. Image: © Getty Images / ziprashantz

The scientists recruited 50 people aged between 65 and 80 to participate in their prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Volunteers were randomly assigned to receive either placebo or KSM-66 for three months. A variety of questionnaires were used to evaluate the product’s efficacy, safety, and tolerability.

Results showed that, while sleep quality and the mental alertness upon waking up were relatively low at the start of the study for both groups, a significant increase was reported in both measures by the participants receiving the ashwagandha supplements, compared to placebo.

Significant improvements in general wellbeing/ quality of life were also reported by the people in the Ashwagandha group, compared to placebo.

Importantly, the KSM-66 product was well tolerated by the participants, with no significant adverse events reported in either group.

“A multi-centered study with a longer duration and large subject groups, having diverse backgrounds, may provide more information on the various biochemical, physiological and psychological aspects and would also give a better understanding of the long-term effects of Ashwagandha in elderly people,” ​commented the researchers.


The study’s findings were welcomed by Kartikeya Baldwa, CEO of Ixoreal Biomed. In an email to NutraIngredients-USA, Baldwa stated: “Most encouraging to me in this study was that we saw KSM-66 producing significant improvements in energy, mobility, work capacity, activities of daily living, as represented in WHOQOL-BREF's physical health index.

“These often decline sharply with age and boosting these can improve mental alertness, well-being and sleep quality, consistent with the study's results.”  

Source: Cureus
12​(2): e7083. doi:10.7759/cureus.7083
“Efficacy and Tolerability of Ashwagandha Root Extract in the Elderly for Improvement of General Well-being and Sleep: A Prospective, Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study”
Authors: S.B. Kelgane et al.

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