The present study examined the effects of a proprietary Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) root and leaf extract (NooGandha® Specnova LLC, USA) supplement for improving cognitive abilities, cortisol levels, and self-reported mood, stress, food cravings, and anxiety with adults who have perceived stress. Healthy adults (n = 43 women and n = 17 men; mean age = 34.41 years) who reported experiencing perceived stress were randomized to the following groups: Ashwagandha (400 mg/d), Ashwagandha (225 mg/d), and placebo for 30 days. The following outcomes were assessed at Day 0, Day 15, and Day 30: saliva cortisol levels, cognitive performance (i.e., CNS vital signs), and the self-reported measures of Trait Anxiety Inventory, Depression Anxiety Stress Scale, Perceived Stress Scale, and Food Cravings Questionnaire-15. For the self-report assessments, significant main effects for time were evidenced for anxiety, depression, perceived stress, and food cravings, p's < 0.01. The main effect for group and the interactions were non-significant. For the CNS vital signs, significant differences were observed in cognitive flexibility, visual memory, reaction time, psychomotor speed, and executive functioning, p's < 0.05, with the Ashwagandha groups often out-performing the placebo group. Both Ashwagandha groups had reductions in cortisol levels over time, with significant reductions evidenced for the Ashwagandha 225 mg/d group from Day 0 to Day 15 to Day 30. The placebo group had a non-significant increase in cortisol levels from Day 0 to Day 15-30. No adverse events were reported. In conclusion, Ashwagandha supplementation may improve the physiological, cognitive, and psychological effects of stress.
Keywords: Ashwagandha; Cognition; Cortisol; Stress; Withania somnifera.
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