Scientists say 5p herb could soothe anxiety and help you sleep better

adaptogen ashwagandha capsules on white backdrop
-Credit: (Image: Getty)

Scientists say a 'little-known' herb could help people who suffer from anxiety and sleep problems thanks to its health benefits. There are various studies that show ashwagandha supplements have the potential to relieve stress and calm nerves.

Ashwagandha is an age-old medicinal herb, which is essential in Ayurveda - the traditional Indian medicine system. It is known for its soothing effects, aiding the body and mind in better stress management.

The herb provides a variety of health advantages, mainly because of its high withanolide content. Withanolides are a natural compound thought to play a role in the plant's healing and anti-inflammatory properties.

You can get a bottle of ashwagandha supplements for £9.99 at Superdrug - this equates to about 5p per pill. There are various other retailers that sell the herb however, including Boots and Holland and Barrett.

Research has demonstrated that ashwagandha can lower cortisol levels - the body's stress hormone - leading to a reduction in stress and anxiety. Ashwagandha is classified as an adaptogen, a substance that helps the body cope with stress.

Numerous clinical trials and research studies provide evidence for the effectiveness of ashwagandha in relieving anxiety. For instance, a study involving 64 individuals with chronic stress showed that those who consumed ashwagandha extract experienced an average reduction of 69% in anxiety and insomnia over a 60-day period, whereas the placebo group only reported an 11% reduction.

In another study, involving 58 participants, it was found that individuals who consumed either 250 or 600 mg of ashwagandha extract for eight weeks experienced a notable decrease in perceived stress and cortisol levels. This was in comparison to those who were given a placebo.

Additionally, the group that took the ashwagandha supplements showed enhancements in sleep quality when compared to the placebo group. However, additional research is required to reach an agreement on the proper forms and dosages for managing stress and stress-related disorders.

Besides anxiety, stress and sleep, ashwagandha has also been shown to enhance brain function. Research has indicated that taking ashwagandha may boost cognitive function, such as memory, task performance, and attention, by protecting against oxidative stress in the brain.

The herb could also greatly enhance the amount of oxygen produced by athletes - making them more efficient in their performances. Taking ashwagandha may also reduce your risk of heart issues, including lowering high blood pressure, lowering high cholesterol and easing chest pain.

It is important to remember that even though vitamin and mineral supplements are safe to consume, it is most beneficial to obtain nutrients from food sources. Always speak to your doctor first before making any drastic diet or lifestyle changes and to check if there is a reason for a possible underlying medical condition.