Published on March 30, 2023

Can Ashwagandha help with modern-day stress?

Stress seems to be a fact of life these days. For nearly half of all Canadians, Statistics Canada suggests that Covid-19 had a negative impact of their reported stress levels[1].

To better understand stress and how it affects our body, it’s important to differentiate between chronic stress and general stress. General stress is a normal response to situational pressures or demands, the result of brain chemicals called hormones surging through the body. These hormones make people sweat, breathe quicker, tense their muscles and prepare to take action. When this happens, a person's built-in alarm system—their “fight-or-flight” response—becomes activated to protect them. A certain amount of stress is a normal part of daily life and can actually be beneficial – for example, motivating you to complete a task before an important deadline.

However, when stress persists for a prolonged period of time, it becomes what is known as “chronic stress”. Chronic stress is a response to long-term stressors, such as a negative work environment or a traumatic event. This type of stress can have a negative impact on a person's physical and mental well-being[2]. Symptoms of chronic stress can vary from person to person, but common symptoms include fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and muscle tension. Stress can also lead to physical symptoms such as headaches, chest pain, and digestive problems. Chronic stress can potentially also lead to more serious health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and depression.[3]

Over the centuries, people have turned to herbal medicine to help relieve stress and anxiety. One such herb is Ashwagandha, which has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries as a treatment for stress and is believed to lower the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body[4]. Cortisol is a hormone that is released by the body in response to stress. High levels of cortisol can lead to a variety of health problems, including weight gain, depression, and anxiety.[5]

Ashwagandha (also known as Withania somnifera) is a low growing evergreen shrub that is endemic to India and Southeast Asia2. Ashwagandha root extract has been suggested to help reduce anxiety by mimicking the brain chemical gamma-aminobutyric acid – GABA for short6.​ When GABA attaches to a protein in your brain known as a GABA receptor, it produces a calming effect. Research suggests that ashwagandha can help normalize cortisol levels, thus reducing the stress response[1].​

Nature’s Way Less Stress gummies uses a proprietary form of the plant called Sensoril® that is derived from a unique blend of the leaves and roots of Withania somnifera[2].  Sensoril® has been found to help reduce the symptoms of stress and help reduce cortisol and C-reactive protein levels, a biomarker of physical stress [2].

Ashwagandha is generally considered safe for most people to take. However, it can interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners, so it is important to speak with your healthcare provider before taking it.