Ashwagandha for Anxiety in Codependency

By Karta Purkh S. Khalsa, AD, DN-C, RH.

Anxiety is uneasiness of experiencing fear in the future. The feared danger isn’t imminent and may not even be known or real, as opposed to fear, which is an emotional /physical reaction to a present, known threat. Anxiety is usually reflected in obsessive worry, inability and insomnia. Anxiety can trigger a full-blown fight-flight-or-freeze response that prepares us to meet real danger. However, because anxiety is a response to something that hasn’t occurred, there is nothing to fight or flee. Tension builds up inside our body, but there is no way to release it. Still, our mind goes round and round, replaying likelihoods and scenarios.

If excessive, anxiety is diagnosed as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Unrealistic worry persists about two or more things for at least six months. It is accompanied by at least three of these symptoms:

  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleep problems

In some cases, anxiety can manifest in specific phobias, or in a panic disorder, where we feel a sudden, unprovoked terror that can cause chest pain and a choking sensation.

That’s where ashwagandha comes in. You’ve likely heard of it.

Ashwagandha root is the main rejuvenating remedy in the Ayurvedic natural medicine system. Ayurveda, the holistic healing system of India, notes this long-acting herb to be a rasayana, or particularly powerful rejuvenator. The name ashwagandha translates as, “like a horse,” connoting its reputation as a premier mental, physical and sexual builder.

While ashwagandha promotes stamina, it is relaxing, and helps to regulate sleep rhythms. It will not help you sleep, taken at bedtime, but it has an overall anxiolytic property that promotes easy sleep over time. A 2021 experiment, published in the prestigious Journal of Ethnopharamcology, found it to be a potent remedy for anxiety.1

And the sexual augmentation is not just in traditional herbalism. One study revealed that extracts of ashwagandha increased sex hormone and sperm production, apparently by exerting a testosterone-type result.2 In a different double blind clinical trial, Withania (3 grams/day for 1 year) was tested on the aging process in 101 healthy adult men (50-59 years of age). Hemoglobin, red blood cells, hair pigment and seated stature improved significantly. Serum cholesterol declined, nail calcium was conserved and 71.4% of the herb takers reported improvement in sexual performance.3 A 2021 paper reported that the root enhanced physical capability in males and females.4

Besides its anti-anxiety effect, ashwagandha is one of the most encouraging herbs for building overall health. A scientific article issued by Los Angeles researchers reviews a host of confirmed benefits, including anti-inflammatory, anti-stress, antioxidant, immunomodulatory and rejuvenating properties. The researchers say that it also seems to wield a positive benefit for the endocrine, cardiopulmonary, and central nervous systems.5

Scientists conducted a study to examine the likely effects of ashwagandha root extract use on muscle mass and strength in vigorous young men who practiced resistance training. The study states that the ashwagandha regime is linked to significant bumps in muscle mass and strength and suggests that the Ashwagandha consumption may be useful in combination with a resistance training program.6

A common dose of ashwagandha is around a gram per day, consumed over extended periods, up to many years, as a builder and regulator, but, ashwagandha is very safe, so increased quantities are often used in Ayurveda short term, say 1- 10 grams per day for quicker results.

Bottom line: ashwagandha for relaxed energy and healthy sleep in the short run and the long run.

KP Khalsa, Natural Healing Specialist. Learn more about KP Khalsa at

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  2.  Abdel-Magied EM, Abdel-Rahman HA, Harraz FM. The effect of aqueous extracts of Cynomorium coccineum and Withania somnifera on testicular development in immature Wistar rats. J Ethnopharmacol 2001 Apr;75(1):1-4 ↩︎
  3. Kuppurajan K, et al, J Res Ayu Sid, 1, 1980:247. [from:  Bone K, “Withania somnifera”, Clinical Applications of Ayurvedic and Chinese Herbs, (Queensland, Australia:  Phytotherapy Press), 1996:137-41.] ↩︎
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  5. Mishra LC, Singh BB, Dagenais S. Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Withania somnifera (ashwagandha): a review. Altern Med Rev 2000 Aug;5(4):334-46 ↩︎
  6. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015 Nov 25;12:43. doi: 10.1186/s12970-015-0104-9. eCollection 2015. ↩︎

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