Used in both traditional Chinese and Indian medicine, ashwagandha is best know for stress relief. [Photo: Bigstock]

Ashwagandha supplement assists weight loss

13 September, 2016

Natural Health News — Supplements of ashwagandha root extract may help people with chronic stress manage their body weight, according to a new study from India.

Previous research has indicated that ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) has can help relieve stress. This new work suggests those benefits may also extend to reducing excessive food consumption associated with stress.

Writing in the journal Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, researchers report that a taking a standardised supplement known as KSM-66 led to reduced psychological and physiological markers of stress, improved eating behaviour, and reduced food cravings in moderately overweight adults who reported suffering from chronic stress.

This is the first study to show that ashwagandha can reduce food cravings and emotional eating.

What you need to know

» Ashwagandha is a traditional herb with many claimed benefits. The most well-proven of these is stress relief.

» In this study Indian researchers set out to see if the benefits of a standardised supplement of ashwagandha could extend to stress-related, or emotional eating.

» Results showed that those who took 600mg of the herb each day for 8 weeks experienced fewer cravings and a 3% reduction in body weight – twice that of those taking a placebo.

8 weeks to better health

For eight weeks, 52 moderately overweight men and women aged 18–60 were randomised to consume 300 mg of KSM-66 or a placebo twice daily. Participants reported suffering from chronic stress but were otherwise healthy.

Researchers assessed the subjective effect of KSM-66 supplementation with various questionnaires on stress, food cravings, and mood and in addition measured levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the blood, body weight, and body mass index (BMI). Assessments were taken at the beginning of the study, four weeks after beginning supplementation, and eight weeks after beginning supplementation.

Results showed significant improvements in all measurements

For body weight, a 3% reduction was recorded in the ashwagandha group after eight weeks, compared with 1.5% in the placebo group. For BMI, a 3% reduction was also recorded in the ashwagandha group after eight weeks, which was significantly greater than the 1.4% reduction recorded in the placebo group.

Stress linked with overweight

Chronic stress is a major global health concern, and is associated with a number of conditions, including depression, heart disease, and hypertension, and it has also been linked to weight gain and obesity.

In America alone it is responsible for about 225 million lost working every year, according to the American Institute of Stress, resulting in about $80 billion in lost productivity.

Ashwagandha is a traditional herb used in both Chinese and Indian medicine that is increasing in popularity due to its reported wide-ranging health benefits, which include supporting stress, cognitive function, sleep, metabolic wellness, adrenal function, sports performance and more.

According to the researchers: “The potential of ashwagandha as a natural anti-stress and anti-anxiety therapeutic has been strongly supported by previous researchers The results of the present study have taken this analysis a step further and demonstrated that ashwagandha may provide a potential additional benefit of supporting the maintenance of normal weight (or even weight loss) in people living with chronic stress,” wrote the researchers.

They add that the herb demonstrated a good safety profile with few adverse events reported.