Posts Tagged ‘serotonin’

Ashwagandha: The Rejuvenator

ashwagandha-root

 

Withania somnifera, or Ashwagandha, is a revered herb in Indian Ayurvedic medicine – referred to as the “Indian ginseng” and the “rejuvenator”. Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb used to increase the body’s resilience to physiological and psychological stress and improve the body’s state of health overall. Although useful for a wide range of other health conditions, Ashwagandha is particularly known for its adaptogenic properties and the regulation of hormones, reducing anxiety, improving sleep, and treatment of Alzheimer’s.

Regulation of Hormones

Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb. This means that it supports the body’s systems, assists the body’s ability to adapt to stressors, and has a normalizing and balancing effect on the body. If a system is either under or over active, adaptogenic herbs like Ashwagandha will aid the body to restore its natural balance. Ashwagandha’s adaptogenic properties particularly benefit the endocrine system, which allows for the proper regulation of hormones. One study determined that Ashwagandha has thyroid enhancing properties and effectively regulates TSH, Free T4, and T3. This may be beneficial for those struggling with under or overactive thyroid glands, or for anyone looking to help balance their hormones.

Lower Anxiety

Traditionally Ashwagandha has been most often used for anxiety relief. A number of studies have demonstrated its effectiveness as both an anxiolytic and an anti-depressant due to its chemical composition and its adaptogenic properties. The biologically active chemical components of Ashwagandha include sitoindosides and acylsterylglucosides, both of which are anti-stress agents. As well, because of its adaptogenic properties Ashwagandha improves an individual’s resilience to stress, and therefore improves overall mood. One study measured Ashwagandha consumption in stressed rats and found that serotonin levels went up with the use of Ashwagandha, the neurotransmitter associated with feelings of happiness. Another study on patients with alcohol addiction found that Ashwagandha significantly increased GABA levels, a neurotransmitter known to reduce anxiety. As made evident by these studies, Ashwagandha may be useful support for those experiencing anxiety, or for those looking to improve their mood and overall well-being!

Improved Sleep

Ashwagandha has also shown positive results in improving sleep and fatigue. One study measured mice with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), a syndrome characterized by persistent fatigue and exhaustion. The study determined that Ashwagandha improves fatigue by decreasing lipid peroxidation and restoring glutathione (GSH) levels. Most people that struggle with insomnia have lower GSH levels, as it is an antioxidant that helps produce melatonin and induce delta-wave sleep. Another study demonstrated that Ashwagandha is effective for insomnia by decreasing cortisol, as elevated cortisol levels are another cause of insomnia. Ashwagandha may be a good solution for those looking to improve sleep, reduce fatigue, and boost energy throughout the day.

Treatment of Alzheimer’s

Ashwagandha has been shown to be effective in improving memory and cognitive performance. Many recent studies have also shown its potential as a treatment for Alzheimer’s. It does this by improving cognitive abilities, which allows for improved motor and memory skills. One study showed that Ashwagandha inhibits the formation of beta-amyloid plaques, plaques found in the brain cells of Alzheimer’s patients. Another study demonstrated that it has cognitive promoting effects and is useful for children with memory deficit and those with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s. It does this by helping restore memory loss, as it aids in the formation of dendrites which are necessary for synaptic processing in the brain. In addition, while Ashwagandha is particularly helpful for those experiencing memory loss and cognitive impairment, it is also useful for improving cognition in otherwise healthy individuals. In a 2014 double-blind study, subjects were randomly given either Ashwagandha capsules or a placebo and assessed on cognitive and psychomotor performance. Significant improvements were seen in the Ashwagandha group as compared to the placebo group. Although further research is still needed, these studies demonstrate that it may be an effective natural treatment for Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, as well as support for improved cognition in general population.

 

Ask your naturopathic doctor for more information.

Wellness Naturopathic Centre, North Vancouver, BC

www.wellnessnaturopathic.com

The information on this website is for educational purposes only. It does not substitute for proper assessment and treatment by a licensed health care provider.

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B Vitamins Help with Stress, Mood and Sleep

B-vitamins are water-soluble vitamins that play an important role in immune and nervous system function, cell growth and metabolism, energy production, mental health and stress management. Since water soluble vitamins are not stored in the body, the excess being excreted in the urine, they can be quickly depleted from the body and must be replenished regularly. B vitamins are a group of eight individual vitamins, often referred to as the B-complex vitamins, including B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid), and vitamin B12.

B-complex vitamins are essential for mental and emotional wellbeing because of their significant role in regulating the nervous system and affecting mood. The brain operates by millions of neurons (brain cells) communicating with each other. Neurons communicate with each other through neurotransmitters. Among these neurotransmitters, the neurotransmitter “serotonin” plays a complex role in the way you eat, sleep, behave, and has a great influence on your overall sense of well being.

Serotonin is sometimes referred to as the “happiness hormone”. It helps to regulate mood, anxiety, relieve depression and promote healthy sleep patterns. When the level of serotonin in the brain is changed, a person’s behavior is also altered. A normal level of serotonin promotes feelings of happiness, but sometimes during periods of stress, the body uses higher levels of serotonin to compensate for being overwhelmed. Accordingly, the levels of serotonin begin to drop causing irritability, depression, anxiety and sleep problems. By facilitating the function and manufacture serotonin, B vitamins help fight stress, insomnia, depression, nervous disorders and migraines among other conditions.

Melatonin is another neurotransmitter in the brain that helps regulate the body’s circadian rhythm, the 24-hour internal clock that plays a critical role in the time you fall asleep and the time you wake up. It is sometimes referred to as the “darkness hormone” because when it is dark, melatonin production is increased, and in the morning the production of melatonin drops considerably. Since B vitamins enhance the production of melatonin, they facilitate healthy sleep patterns.

When the body is exposed to long periods of stress, B vitamins become depleted. This can manifest as anxiety, irritability, restlessness, fatigue, headaches, sleeplessness and inability to concentrate. This is why it is important to replenish the body with B vitamins especially during stressful times. Since B vitamins tend to work together synergistically, it is best to take a well balanced vitamin B complex formula to maximize benefits.

Always consult your naturopathic doctor before initiating a new regimen.

Wellness Naturopathic Centre, North Vancouver, BC
www.wellnessnaturopathic.com

The information on this website is for educational purposes only. It does not substitute for proper assessment and treatment by a licensed health care provider.