Ashwagandha Reduces Stress of Arthritis

Dietary supplements containing ashwagandha provide natural stress relief without the side effects of drug treatments. Stress can increase pain and make it difficult for people with arthritis and other conditions to cope with burdens caused by their disease. Pain is a warning.

Ashwagandha (withania somnifera) in herbal medicine has been used for centuries to strengthen the body and for helping to prevent disease. The species name somnifera means "sleep-making" in Latin because of its sedative properties. It has anxiety relief properties and is helpful for sleeping problems.

My husband and I use an ashwagandha root extract complex that includes the phytosterol beta-sitosterol, along with amino acids L-Thianine and L-Tyrosine. I use it as needed for stress relief. My husband finds he sleeps more soundly when taken before bed at the end of a stressful day. We love the fact that it’s safe and works very quickly.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 75-90% of trips to the doctor’s office are stress related. Some people try to relieve tension with behaviors—such as drinking, smoking, or overeating—that actually increase stress and present their own health risks. Stress-driven eating can lead to unhealthy weight gain.

Can stress cause arthritis?

Studies in laboratory animals have shown a relationship between stress and the development of arthritis. Researchers have been hesitant to formulate conclusions for humans.

The relationship between disease and stress is complicated. There is, however, general scientific consensus that high stress levels lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and depression. Stress is also known to disturb sleep, cause headaches and contribute to other illnesses.

Some people handle stress better than others. It’s the way the mind and body react to the tension and pressure of stress that makes a difference.

What is ashwagandha?

Ashwgandha is an herb also known as Indian ginseng, Winter cherry, Ajagandha, Kanaje Hindi and Samm Al Ferakh. It’s in the Solanaceae or nightshade plant family that grows prolifically in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

It grows as a stout shrub that reaches a height of 5 feet. It produces yellow flowers and red fruit of berry-like size and shape. In Ayurveda medicine (an ancient system and philosophy of health care native to the Indian subcontinent) ashwagandha is considered a rasayana herb, an herb that works on a generalized basis to increase health and longevity.

Medicinal and dietary supplement use of ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is considered an adaptogen which is a nontoxic herb that works nonspecifically to normalize physiological function. The term adaptogen is used by herbalists to refer to a natural herb product that increases the body's resistance to stress, trauma, anxiety and fatigue. In the past, they’ve been called rejuvenating herbs, qi tonics, rasayanas, or restoratives.

Both the roots and the berries of ashwagandha are used in herbal medicine. In Ayurveda, the fresh roots are sometimes boiled in milk prior to drying, to leach out undesirable constituents.

Ashwagandha is used in dietary supplements for internal use and in oil preparations for external application. Ashwagandha root contains flavonoids and many active ingredients of the withanolide class. Several studies over the past few years have looked into whether ashwagandha has anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, anti-stress, antioxidant, mind-boosting, immune-enhancing, and rejuvenating properties.

It has also been used for disease prevention and for strengthening the body.

In most dietary supplements, Ashwagandha root is used as an extract and is commonly formulated with other natural constituents.

Caution: some herb supplements can be contaminated and sub potent

Be careful when choosing a dietary supplement containing ashwagandha and other herbs. Some herbal supplements have been found to contain contaminated ingredients or additives. Ashwagandha, like many herbs, is sourced from parts of the world where pesticides, bacteria, glass, lead and other heavy metal contamination occurs.

Misbranding of dietary supplements has also occurred, as well as adulteration and sub potency. This makes it important that you don’t buy dietary supplements on the basis of hype and pie-in-the-sky claims. Look past that. Look at the company making the product. Are they looking out for your best health interest, or are they in the business just “catching the wave” of a booming industry?

There are completely safe herbal supplements

Rest assured there are completely safe herbal choices in the dietary supplement market. The company that I use (see recommendation paragraph at end) has always tested the raw ingredients of all of its products and guaranteed their purity, potency, efficacy and safety. Their 70-member science staff completely dwarfs the staffs of competing companies.

Clinical studies on ingredients (such as ashwagandha herb) and products are routine in the business approach of the company I use. Believe it or not, clinical studies are rarely done by other dietary supplement companies—even today’s new FDA regulations don’t require them, so most companies don’t bother to spend the money.

Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) of 2007

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its final rule on the in July, 2007 ending 13 years without regulation of the dietary supplement industry. The new rule requires manufacturers to test the purity and composition of their products.

Between 1994 and 2007 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received tens of thousands of adverse event reports concerning the issues with some dietary supplements.

The FDA said the cGMPs are their response to dietary supplement quality problems. Examples of problems the new regulations hope to prevent are:

  1. dietary supplements that contain much more than listed (rarely occurred) on the label and may be harmful
  2. dietary supplements that contain less ingredients (far more likely) than listed on the label (or no active ingredient at all)
  3. wrong ingredient
  4. drug contaminant
  5. other contaminant (e.g., bacteria, pesticide, glass, lead, foreign material in a dietary supplement container)
  6. mislabeled

While the new rules are an improvement, some say they lack “teeth” to regulate the industry they way the FDA regulates pharmaceuticals.

New rules fail to standardize testing methods

The new regulations address the issues of quality and safety by requiring ingredient testing at time of manufacture. They fall short, however, of mandating a standardized method of testing for the purity of the raw ingredients. In fact, they allow each manufacturer to determine its own methods of testing.

The FDA does not have the manpower to enforce regulations through systematic inspections. Without standardized testing and compliance enforcement, some wonder whether 100% of companies will adhere to the new rules. The dietary supplement industry consists of about 1000 manufacturers.

Also, critics doubt the new rules will help the efficacy factor. They question a consumer’s lack of assurance that the dietary supplement is effective for the purpose of its purchase. The new rules don’t require companies to prove their ashwagandha or other products work!

"Nothing here deals with the question of efficacy, which is a shame," said Dr. Jerry Avorn, chief of pharmaco-epidemiology and pharmaco-economics at Brigham and Women's Hospital. "Knowing you have pure and well-made useless crap is a little better than having impure useless crap, but not by much."

New standards not fully phased in until June, 2010

The cGMP standards will be phased in over three years (large companies by June, 2008, small companies by June, 2009 and very small companies by June 2010),

In the past, fewer dietary supplement companies tested raw materials than those that did. Those that did test may have used substandard methodology. One consumer laboratory reported it had found instances of lead contamination and wrong ingredients that supplement manufacturers’ own testing methods had not identified.

Will supplements be consistent batch to batch under the new cGMP’s? That’s a question to be answered in the future.

The scruples or get-rich-quick purpose of some manufacturers of dietary supplements have been questioned for some time.

In spite of the new cGMPs, it’s fair to point out that presently much of the industry is still operating “unregulated” since the new rules will not fully affect all manufacturers until 2010.

How can you trust the efficacy of an ashwagandha dietary supplement?

To help you choose a company you can trust, I’ve devised 30 Questions concerning standards of excellence that you should expect “yes” answers to.

It’s false to believe that natural is automatically safe. Plants can be harmful and some are poisonous.

Take nothing for granted when it comes to your health. Take control of your health. Make sure the dietary supplements you take furnish the health benefits promised by their label claims. You can trust the ashwagandha supplement I’ll recommend in the last paragraph of this page.

More people today seek natural alternative treatment for health issues for two primary reasons:

  • First, drugs have the possibility of serious side effects (natural dietary supplements rarely do—see the kava exception below).

  • Second, synthetic drugs treat health symptoms, but aren’t assimilated by the body as nutrients (plant-based dietary supplements are).

Is stress causing your arthritis symptoms to be more acute? Was stress the trigger that brought on your arthritis in the first place? These are questions without definitive answers.

Anti-anxiety herb kava poses risk of liver damage—FDA March, 25, 2002

I’m mentioning an anti-anxiety herb, kava, on this webpage because it has similar anti-anxiety properties to ashwagandha for stress relief but kava has safety issues and ashwagandha does not.

More than a third of Americans have tried to alleviate stress with supplements, especially the herbal supplement kava. But kava can produce unwanted drowsiness, and on March 25, 2002, the FDA advised consumers of the potential risk of severe liver injury associated with the use of kava-containing dietary supplements.

At the time, Kava was so widely used that it was among the top ten herbs sold in Europe and North America. The FDA informed healthcare professionals on March 25, 2002 that products containing herbal extracts of kava had been implicated in Europe in at least 25 cases of serious liver toxicity including hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure and kava is now banned in many European countries.

Can you believe that kava is still legally sold in the U.S. today? Why would anyone risk their health for an ingredient this risky when comparable safer natural options such as ashwagandha are available?

In the 2002 FDA consumer advisory on kava the FDA stated it would “continue to investigate the relationship, if any, between the use of dietary supplements containing kava and liver injury.” The FDA consumer advisory can be read in full at: http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/addskava.html

In August of 2002, Canada’s Federal Health Ministry, Health Canada, issued an order stopping the sale of supplements containing the herb kava (also known as kava-kava) because of safety concerns. They noted that kava is most commonly used for the management of the anxiety, mild depression and problems falling asleep.

US consumer group names kava in "dirty dozen" dietary supplements

In its May, 2004 issue Consumer Reports exposed the "dirty dozen" dangerous dietary supplements Americans can easily buy over the counter or from the internet. At least five of the supplements, including kava, were already banned in Asia, Europe, or Canada--kava was identified on the list as "very likely hazardous." One of the twelve, aristolochic acid, was identified as a carcinogen.

Consumer Reports (accessible at www.consumerreports.org) is published by the non-profit Consumers Union, which tests products (and services) with the goal of protecting the public through information and advocacy.

In addition to kava, others on the "very likely hazardous" list of natural ingredients were: androstenedione, comfrey, chaparral, and germander. Supplement ingredients in the "likely hazardous" category included: bitter organge, lobelia, organ/glandular extracts, pennyroyal oil, skullcap, and vohimbe.

The nutrition company I recommend has never used any of the “dirty dozen” ingredients

For over 50 years, generations of families have counted on the leading nutrition company that I use. They do what no other company does quite like them—make products that are naturally safe AND proven effective.

Their mission is to provide a healthier life for everyone and a better life for anyone. They do it by making natural products that are so exceptional, you just have to tell your friends. Every ingredient in every bottle they produce is designed to: improve health; work without compromise; and be gentle to the planet.

When you choose this company, you’ll know three things are true: Their products are always safe; their products always work; their products are always “green”.

They have a long list of ingredients that they will never use in their products because their safety cannot be scientifically documented. Their self-imposed banned ingredient list already included all twelve of the so-called “dirty dozen” by Consumer Reports and is a much longer list than that!

Ashwagandha from the #1 nutrition company is safe

There’s an ashwagandha herb dietary supplement I trust for its ingredient purity and potency. It’s used as a natural anti-anxiety and helps relieve stress and tension. Its formulated to promote a calm, relaxed state without drowsiness.* Ashwagandha enhances the body’s ability to adapt to stress.

You can trust the efficacy of their ashwagandha product altogether. It’s made by a #1 natural nutrition company, founded in 1956, that leads the dietary supplement industry with more than 90 peer reviewed research studies published in refereed medical journals on its products. It’s a company that was in compliance with the new FDA cGMP regulations years before they were announced.

Because it contains a blend of Beta-Sitosterol and amino acids L-theanine and L-tyrosine this ashwagandha herb stress relief supplement provides quick relief from tension while promoting alertness. Beta-Sitosterol, a natural plant sterol, helps to blunt the response of cortisol, a hormone produced during physical stress. Chronically high cortisol levels have a negative association with good long-term health.

Recommended stress relief dietary supplement for arthritis

One caplet daily taken by mouth of this stress and anxiety relief product contains 100 mg of ashwagandha (withania somnifera) root extract, 60 mg of Beta-Sitosterol, 100 mg of L-theanine and 100 mg of L-tyrosene It has proven safety with clinically studied and traditionally used ingredients. It combines the best of science and nature and does not contain kava (kava kava).

My husband and I have taken this natural dietary ashwaganha supplement for many years on an as-needed basis. We find for stress relief it works within minutes. My husband actually prefers it more as a sleep aid, although there are other products for that purpose. Best of all, we don’t have to worry about any harmful side effects from long-term use like we would with drugs.

To experience the benefits of ashwagandha root for relief of sleep disorders caused by arthritis symptoms and for stress relief, relaxation, alertness and an improved outlook, I recommend this safe ashwagandha supplement.


* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.





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