Efficacy and Tolerability of Ashwagandha Root Extract in the Elderly for Improvement of General Well-being and Sleep: A Prospective, Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study

Cureus. 2020 Feb 23;12(2):e7083. doi: 10.7759/cureus.7083.


Background Ashwagandha is an excellent adaptogen that is being used since ancient times in Ayurvedic medicine. Traditionally, it is used for various ailments and general well-being, including the treatment of geriatric patients. Managing quality of life (QoL) remains a challenge for the elderly population, especially joint pain management, sleep, and general well-being. With a growing global elderly population, QoL management with efficient medication and supplementation is the major healthcare requirement. Objective The objective of this study was to assess the safety, efficacy, and tolerability of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal.) root extract on the improvement of general health and sleep in elderly people. Methods This 12-week, prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was conducted on individuals of either gender aged between 65-80 years. Participants were randomized to receive Ashwagandha root extract at a dose of 600 mg/day (n = 25) orally, or identical placebo capsules with the same dose (n = 25) for 12 weeks. Efficacy was assessed using the WHOQOL-BREF questionnaire, sleep quality, mental alertness on rising, and Physician's Global Assessment of Efficacy to Therapy (PGAET). The safety and tolerability were assessed using the clinical adverse events reporting and Patient's Global Assessment of Tolerability to Therapy (PGATT). Results Statistically significant (P<0.0001) improvement was observed in the Ashwagandha treatment group compared to the placebo. The mean (SD) total score of WHOQOL-BREF improved from 140.53 (8.25) at the baseline to 161.84(9.32) at the end of the study. The individual domain scores were also improved. At baseline, the sleep quality and the mental alertness on rising were comparatively low in both the groups. However, upon intervention, a significant increase in the quality of sleep (P<0.0001) and mental alertness (P<0.034) was observed in the Ashwagandha treatment group when compared to the placebo group. Overall improvement was observed for the general wellbeing, sleep quality, and mental alertness in the study population. The experimental group population displayed good tolerability to the test product and it was reported as safe and beneficial by the study participants. Conclusion The study outcomes suggest that Ashwagandha root extract was efficient in improving the QoL, sleep quality, and mental alertness as self-assessed by the elderly participants. The recommended dose used in this study could be effective for the elderly population.

Keywords: aging; ashwagandha; elderly; mental alertness; quality of life; sleep quality.