Ashwagandha Aids Stress & Body Weight Management

Stress Got You Down and Your Weight Up?  Don't Worry!

by Dr. Anthony Thomas 

            Clinical study results recently published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine [1] showed daily dietary supplementation with KSM-66 ashwagandha root extract significantly reduced both psychological and physiological indicators of stress in chronically stressed adults.  Furthermore, food cravings and body weight were significantly decreased during ashwagandha supplementation.  The researchers concluded that dietary supplementation with ashwagandha root extract aids body weight management in people with chronic stress.  This study further supports the clinical efficacy of dietary supplementation with KSM-66 ashwagandha root extract to support a healthy stress response and anxiety reduction.

Stress: Weighing On Most

            Chronic psychological stress is a major health concern that can lead to physical symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, problem sleeping, gastrointestinal distress, muscle tension, and is associated with a number of chronic diseases.  It has also been linked to weight gain and obesity.  According to The American Institute of Stress (, 77% of Americans regularly experience detrimental physical symptoms and 73% regularly experience detrimental psychological symptoms caused by stress.  Basically, most of us are stressed out!  Top causes of stress in the US include job pressures, money, health, relationships, poor nutrition, media overload, and sleep loss.  Sound familiar?  Stress is estimated to account for 225 million lost working days by Americans equating to ~$80 billion in lost productivity!

            Cortisol, the "stress hormone," is secreted by the adrenal glands in response to perceived threats to survival, commonly referred to as the "fight or flight response" or acute stress response.  When this biological response is chronically activated as a result of chronic stress, sustained elevations of cortisol levels can contribute to negative health effects: suppressed immune function, increased blood pressure and heart rate, increased body (intra-abdominal/visceral) fat accumulation, decreased muscle mass and bone density, and elevated blood sugar and lipids (i.e., insulin resistance).  Furthermore, increased cortisol has been shown to increase hunger and chronic stress is associated with increased caloric intake, particularly cravings for sweets, fried foods, soft drinks and alcohol.  Needless to say, chronic stress-induced increases in cortisol DOES NOT do a body good.


Study Summary

            Chronically stressed overweight and obese Indian adults (18 - 60 years old) were randomly assigned to receive 300 mg of KSM ashwagandha root extract or placebo twice daily for 8 weeks (n = 25/ group).  The study was double-blind to ensure both study subjects and researchers were unaware who received ashwagandha or placebo.  Stress, food cravings, well-being, and eating behaviors were assessed using validated questionnaires prior to as well as 4 and 8 weeks post dietary supplement intervention.  Furthermore, body weight/body mass index (BMI) and blood cortisol levels were also measured at these time points.

            Study results showed stress was significantly reduced at both 4 (~22%) and 8 (~33%) weeks during supplementation with ashwagandha root extract compared to placebo.  Well-being, on the other hand, was significantly increased at both time points in subjects supplemented with ashwagandha, which was significantly greater than placebo by week 8.  Food cravings were significantly decreased during ashwagandha supplementation compared to placebo.  "Uncontrolled eating" and "emotional eating" were also significantly reduced at both 4 and 8 weeks in the ashwagandha group compared to the placebo group. 

            Reductions in body weight and BMI were significantly greater at both 4 and 8 weeks with ashwagandha vs. placebo, which mirrored reductions in blood cortisol levels.  Blood cortisol levels were significantly lower at 8 weeks in the ashwagandha group compared to the placebo group and reductions in blood cortisol levels were significantly greater at both 4 and 8 weeks with ashwagandha supplementation vs. placebo.  These results suggest dietary supplementation with ashwagandha root extract over the course of 8 weeks reduces psychological and physiological indicators of stress, well-being, and lowers food cravings and blood cortisol levels to aid body weight management in chronically stressed, overweight/obese adults.


Getting To The Roots Of The Problem

            Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is said to be the flagship herb of Ayurveda, the 5,000-year-old traditional system of medicine from India.  The herb is experiencing growth in US markets and globally in part due to increased research supporting its biological efficacy. 

            KSM-66 claims to be the highest concentration "full-spectrum" (retaining natural constituents of the herb in the original balance) extract of ashwagandha derived solely from the roots (no leaves).  The production of KSM-66 is vertically integrated and produced without using alcohol or synthetic solvents at a GMP-certified state-of-the-art clean-room facility.  KSM-66 also claims to be the only major ashwagandha extract in the world that is 100% organic certified.

            Of course, where the rubber meets the road is clinical efficacy.  KSM-66 has been extensively researched, backed by several randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials, and has been clinically shown to effectively reduce anxiety and stress, enhance memory and cognition, increase energy/endurance and strength, and support healthy sexual function.  These studies demonstrated clinical efficacy of KSM-66 ashwagandha root extract at a twice daily dose of 300 mg for 8 weeks.  Jarrow Formulas' Ashwagandha Extract features KSM-66 and each bottle provides an 8-week supply of 300 mg twice daily dosing to reflect efficacious dosing substantiated by clinical research.  



1.     Choudhary D, Bhattacharyya S, Joshi K: Body Weight Management in Adults Under Chronic Stress Through Treatment With Ashwagandha Root Extract: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial. J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med 2016.