Background: Alcohol addiction is a social problem leading to both loss of health and economic prosperity among addicted individuals. Common properties of anti-addictive compounds include anti-anxiety, anticonvulsants, anti-depressant, and nootropic actions primarily through modulation of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and serotonergic systems.
Objective: Here, we screen ashwagandha and shilajit known ethnopharmacologically as nervine tonic and adaptogenic herbs for possible anti-addictive potential.
Materials and methods: Effect of ashwagandha churna and shilajit was measured on ethanol withdrawal anxiety using elevated plus maze. Role of ashwagandha and shilajit on chronic ethanol consumption (21 days) was measured using two bottle choice protocol of voluntary drinking. We also measured the effect of the above herbs on corticohippocampal GABA, dopamine, and serotonin levels.
Results: Both ashwagandha and shilajit were found to reduce alcohol withdrawal anxiety in a dose-dependent manner. These herbs alone or in combination also decreased ethanol intake and increased water intake significantly after 21 days of chronic administration. Chronic administration of ashwagandha was found to significantly increase GABA and serotonin levels whereas shilajit altered cortico-hippocampal dopamine in mice.
Conclusion: These central nervous system active herbs alone or in combination reduced both alcohol dependence and withdrawal thus showing promising anti-addictive potential.
Summary: Withinia Somnifera alone and in combination with Shilajeet prevented ethanol withdrawal and alcohol addiction Abbreviations used: GABA: Gama aminobutyric acid, CNS: Central Nervous System, CPP:Condition place preference, DA: Dopamine, 5-HT: 5-hydroxytryptamine, NMDA:N-methyl-D-aspartate.
Keywords: Addiction; alcohol; ashwagandha; mice; shilajit; withdrawal.