Ashwagandha and Stress – Anxiety, Depression, and Sleep

This article explores the truth and the science behind how premium “full spectrum” ashwagandha helps significantly decrease stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. We will discuss each one separately below.

Note: The content is from a double blind, peer reviewed, internationally accepted scientific study performed on humans. It was published in medical journals in July of 2012. This is truly science based medicine and not conjecture. It’s important to note that the ashwagandha used in the study is the exact same one we use at 88Herbs for all of our products. It’s a full spectrum, organic, non-GMO, ashwagandha root extract standardized to 5% withanolides (the main active ingredient). It is water filtered and uses zero chemical solvents in the processing. It’s a multiple award winner and truly the best quality ashwagandha in the world.

Overview –

Ashwagandha is an adaptogen. That means it’s an herb with properties that help the body cope with all kinds of stress. It’s unique in that it causes the body to “normalize”, thus giving us energy when we need it during the day, or making us sleepy at night. It makes us function how we should function while being non addictive and safe. It’s been known for centuries to have wonderful healing properties. Now the science is backing up the claims. But it’s absolutely essential to use the right type of the product. Not all ashwagandhas are created equal. Not even close. We sincerely challenge you to find an ashwagandha better than 88Herbs Ashwagandha. We are very proud of what we’re using.

Ashwagandha and Stress – Scientific study

This study had 64 human participants. It was amazing in that the results with the ashwagandha group compared with the placebo group were vastly different and extremely impressive. What was also amazing about this study was that they didn’t just measure one thing. Ashwagandha significantly improved how people felt AND what the scientists saw when they analysed the subject’s blood for cortisol – the body’s main stress hormone.

These results were fantastic, which is why sales of ashwagandha are skyrocketing and it’s one of the fastest growing herbs on the market.

What happened

The 64 people were split into 2 groups. 32 people took 300mg of ashwagandha twice a day for 60 days. The other 32 people took a placebo (essentially a sugar pill). It was double blind. That means that neither the experimenters nor the participants knew what they were getting. No one could “cheat”.

They measured many things at the start of the experiment and then again after the 60 days. They analysed what the ashwagandha did and what honest effects it had.

Stress is interesting to measure. You can ask people “how stressed do you feel” or “how anxious do you feel”, OR you can take a look inside people’s blood and see with a microscope if they have many stress hormones and chemicals inside the blood to indicate anxiety and stress. This experiment measured both. The questions were more complex than simply asking, “how stressed do you feel”, but essentially the experimenters used scientifically proven questioning methods to analyse how people said they felt, AND analysed what physical results were visible within the body and blood.

Stress can manifest itself in many ways. Too much stress causes anxiety, it can cause depression, and it can disturb sleep. There are many ways stress can harm the body, but this particular study just focused on these ways. The results were that this premium grade ashwagandha helped lower anxiety, improve sleep quality, decrease depression, and lower overall stress biomarkers (cortisol) in the blood. Amazing.

Ashwagandha and Anxiety

Does ashwagandha help to reduce anxiety? YES. This study proves it beyond a reasonable doubt.
Everyone in the study was asked to answer many questions on how much anxiety they had at the beginning of the study, and again after 60 days. Remember, they didn’t know if they were getting real premium ashwagandha or just placebo capsules.

The study clearly showed that people in the ashwagandha group had far lower levels of anxiety than people in the placebo group. Their anxiety levels decreased by 75.6%. This is not only what showed up in the blood, but also how people actually felt according to scientific tests. They felt much less anxious. It worked in every way you can analyse this. This appears much safer, less addictive, and even more effective than many pharmaceutical drugs for anxiety.

Ashwagandha and Depression

Anxiety and depression are quite different. So does ashwagandha help decrease depression too? Again, YES.
This study showed that the ashwagandha group had their depression (actually severe depression) lowered by a whopping 79.2%. Until now, ashwagandha hasn’t had the recognition for helping with depression as much as St. John’s Wort for example, but this is changing quickly and ashwagandha sales are rising rapidly.

Ashwagandha and Sleep

Does ashwagandha also help improve the quality of people’s sleep? Again, YES. The study here proves it.

The ashwagandha group taking 300mg twice a day reported significantly improved sleep quality and lower levels of insomnia after 60 days. And this was compared with the control group in the same double blind experiment. They reported a 69.7% increase in reducing their insomnia. It’s interesting to note that the ashwagandha didn’t need to be taken before bed to help with sleep. People who took it during the day ended up sleeping much better at night.

Ashwagandha and cortisol

Cortisol is the body’s stress hormone. When we are stressed (any type of stress: Physical, mental, emotional, being tired, hungry… anything) we release cortisol. High levels of cortisol are extremely unhealthy for the body and in today’s modern world, most of the society has dangerously high levels of cortisol. Cortisol makes us stressed, weak, sick, depressed, and age more quickly.

You can’t ask someone how much cortisol they think they have in their blood. You need to measure it by taking the blood and analysing the levels.

In this experiment, researchers compared the cortisol levels in the blood of the people taking ashwagandha at the beginning of the study with their cortisol levels 60 days later. The blood levels of cortisol dropped significantly for the people taking this particular ashwagandha. The cortisol levels decreased by 27.9% in only 60 days. That is an enormous drop in cortisol levels and it explains a lot. Lowering cortisol not only decreases stress, improves mood, and decreases anxiety and depression, but it also is healthy on the heart and for longevity.

How can ashwagandha help with anxiety, depression, insomnia, and stress all at the same time?

Ashwagandha actually helps with a lot more than that, but this article is focussing on just these issues. But it is surprising how one herb can have so many positive effects.


There are several theories and there are many active ingredients within ashwagandha. In layman’s terms they get called the same thing “withanolides” but actually there is a lot going on and even a lot of difference between the types of withanolides. So even though ashwagandha is just one plant, there are several different molecules going to work on the body simultaneously.

It’s also possible to look at a simpler answer. Ashwagandha lowers blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Having high levels of cortisol causes insomnia, feelings of stress, weakens the immune system, causes us to feel anxious and depressed. So by simply lowering our cortisol levels by so much, ashwagandha is able to have a positive impact – in a huge way – on anxiety, stress, sleep, and depression.

Here is an article about a specific type of ashwagandha: KSM-66 Ashwagandha for anxiety

Important thing to understand when choosing which ashwagandha you want to buy.

There are countless brands and varieties of ashwagandha on the market, and it’s essential to do your homework and choose the best one. Different types of ashwagandha differ between each other more than even various qualities of red wine do. 88Herbs ashwagandha has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, reduce anxiety, reduce depression, and improve sleep quality. We use this exact type of ashwagandha in our singles and in all of our herbal blends.

Our ashwagandha is water filtered, non-GMO, organic, potent (5% of the highest quality withanolides from the root) and incredibly effective. We truly believe nothing else compares, and we’ve searched the planet for everything available.


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