Ashwagandha-okra mix shows benefits for digestive regularity, sleep, mood

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Digexin is a proprietary blend of standardized okra and ashwagandha extracts. The name is a nod to its digestive and mood benefits. Image credits: Okra - © Dan Totilca / Getty Images & Ashwagandha roots - © ravigora123 / Getty Images
Digexin is a proprietary blend of standardized okra and ashwagandha extracts. The name is a nod to its digestive and mood benefits. Image credits: Okra - © Dan Totilca / Getty Images & Ashwagandha roots - © ravigora123 / Getty Images

Related tags ashwagandha okra Sleep Gut health Digestive health

Supplementation with a proprietary blend of standardized ashwagandha and okra extracts may improve regularity, speed of transit, physical comfort and mental health, says a new randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

Sixty days of supplementation with the ashwagandha-okra blend led to significant reductions in constipation symptoms and improved quality of life, according to findings published in the Journal of the American Nutrition Association​.

Researchers from India and the U.S. also reported that supplementation was associated with reductions in levels of IL-6 (a pro-inflammatory cytokine) and increases in levels of IL-10 (an anti-inflammatory cytokine), results that supported the blend’s anti-inflammatory efficacy.

The study tested two doses of the ingredient, 300 mg and 500 mg per day and found both produced benefits. The higher dose, however, “provided greater benefits”, the researchers reported.

The ingredient

The study used the branded ingredient Digexin, commercialized by NXT USA. The ingredient was launched at SupplySide West in 2022 and is distributed in the US and Europe through Freeman Nutra. Digexin is manufactured in India by Laila Nutraceuticals. 

Commenting on the new findings, Eric Anderson, managing director at NXT USA, said: "We saw some pretty impressive improvements across the board. People reported feeling better in terms of their digestive symptoms, overall quality of life, and even saw faster digestive transit times. Plus, they were going to the bathroom more regularly, which is always a good sign.

“But it wasn’t just about digestion. Sleep got better, and feelings of depression and anxiety eased up. And most importantly, the blood tests showed significant positive changes, validating that what people were reporting was supported by biomarker evidence.”

Digestive health market

The study builds on an earlier proof of concept study​ supporting Digexin’s digestive benefits, published in 2023 in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology.

The market for digestive health has been growing impressively in recent years, with several data sources agreeing that the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the category is about 7%. Estimates for the global market vary from $8 billion to $10 billion, depending on the data source.

The market is dominated by probiotics, and Anderson told NutraIngredients-USA in 2023 that NXT USA appreciates all the research around probiotics and their benefits. “Clearly this is a robust category,” he said at the time of the Journal of Ethnopharmacology​ paper. “However, we are specialists in herbal extracts so we took an herbal approach to the Gut-Brain Axis, finding ingredients that stimulate serotonin and peristalsis and also soothe the tissues in the gut and help hold onto moisture, promoting regular and complete bowel movements. 

“This is a unique approach, one that should complement probiotic—and offer additional support for those who are not finding solutions for their digestive needs from current offerings.”

Study details

The study included 135 men and women with functional constipation and randomly assigned them to one of three groups: placebo, 300 mg per day of Digexin or 500 mg per day of Digexin for 60 consecutive days.

Results of the 'blue poo' test, which tracks digestion and bowel movement speeds, indicated that Digexin was associated with improved gastrointestinal transit times. Specifically, Digexin supplementation resulted in an approximately four-hour faster transit compared to the placebo group.

The researchers also reported substantial improvements in symptoms of constipation, quality of life scores and mental health from as early as day seven.

"Digexin not only improved symptoms throughout the GI tract—from reflux and indigestion to bloating and constipation—but the effect sizes were substantial, almost eliminating symptoms completely in some cases,” said Eric Withee of Freemen Nutra, the U.S. and European distributor of Digexin.

“This is made possible by providing direct benefits to the GI tract while simultaneously helping shift the body away from the sympathetic, or ‘fight or flight’ tone, to the parasympathetic state more conducive to digestion.”

Source: Journal of the American Nutrition Association
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1080/27697061.2024.2346073
“A Novel Herbal Composition Alleviates Functional Constipation, Reduces Gastrointestinal Transit Time, and Improves Bowel Function in Adults: A Double-Blind, Randomized Clinical Study”
Authors: G. Singh, et al

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