Modern medicine has harnessed the sedative qualities of this herb used in Ayurvedic medicine for over 5,000 years and now uses ashwagandha for addiction. The herb is mainly found in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka and is traditionally used to treat a variety of ailments. These include enhancing sexual performance and fertility, soothing arthritis pains and for the treatment of several infectious diseases. While research does not completely justify the effectiveness of the herb for treatment of all its traditional uses, most studies do find ashwagandha to have sedative properties that make it a helpful remedy for those suffering from addictions.
Effectiveness of Ashwagandha for Addiction
Today the herb is most well known and most often used for its sedative properties as it has very strong relaxing and anti-anxiety effects. Even ashwagandha's botanical name, Withania somniferum, echoes these effects as somniferum means, "sleep creator" in Latin. These sedative qualities make the herb very useful for those who need or want to break an addiction.
Some of the most common addiction withdrawal symptoms include elevated anxiety levels, depression, disturbed sleep patterns and feelings of increased agitation. The herb can alleviate the intensity of these symptoms and make it easier for someone to overcome an addiction.
Several studies highlight ashwagandha's sedative characteristics. Researchers from Benaras Hindu University in Varanasi, India, conducted a human trial and found that the herb significantly lowered anxiety levels by acting as a mood stabilizer. In addition, participants who displayed symptoms of depression experienced relief from their condition after consuming the herb.Another study from the University of Texas Health Science Center proves that ashwagandha increases GABA activity. There is not a large amount of information about GABA, except that it's a brain chemical that promotes relaxation. Researchers theorize that this chemical is likely to account for this herb's anti-anxiety effects.
Another study gave 30 anxiety sufferers 40 ml doses of the herb two times a day. The results were impressive; after one month all 30 participant's symptoms had nearly completely disappeared, even panic attacks and paranoia. Yet another study confirms that the herb is an effective mood stabilizer.
Doctors and psychologists have found the herb's sedative properties to be so effective that they've started prescribing it for certain symptoms and conditions. Just a few of these include:
- Alcohol addiction
- Tobacco addiction
- Other drug addictions
- Anxiety disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Delirium tremens
How Ashwagandha Works
The herb is an adaptogen. This simply means it adapts to the state of a body by mimicking hormones and other functions. When stress levels rise, as from experiencing withdrawal symptoms from an addiction, certain hormones appear in high concentrations. Ashwagandha will actually act like other stress relieving chemicals in the body and block these hormones' receptors, prevent them from working and thereby not allow hormone levels to elevate and elicit feelings of tension, stress and anxiety.
Ashwagandha Safety Profile
While there are some precautions you should take before consuming ashwagandha, nearly all doctors have declared it very safe. Currently, there are no known side effects associated with this herb. This further makes using ashwagandha for addiction an excellent choice.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take the herb due to insufficient research about its side effects. Like many other herbal supplements, there is a lack of scientific evidence to determine how it interacts with many other herbs and medications. Consult your physician if you have any questions about taking this or any other herbal remedy.
Most medications that combat anxiety, depression and other common withdrawal symptoms come with a long list of potentially serious side effects. What's more is that many of these pharmaceutical drugs have addictive effects themselves, making their use a risky choice for those trying to overcome a preexisting addiction.
Overall, scientists agree that ashwagandha helps people overcome addictions by soothing the harsh withdrawal symptoms that cause many to fall right back into an addictive cycle, despite sincere and diligent efforts to quit. Furthermore, the herb is safe, easy to use and ready to take in capsule form making it an ideal option for addicts.