The ancient ayurvedic herb ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) shows promise in reducing the symptoms of bipolar disorder, according to two recent studies. For eight weeks, scientists from the University of Pittsburgh’s Western Psychiatric Institute gave 500 milligrams per day of ashwagandha extract or a placebo to 53 patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
The researchers used a series of bipolar tests to gauge cognition, response time, social cognition response and other processes. After the eight weeks, the group given ashwagandha showed significant improvements in auditory-verbal working memory, reaction time and social cognition.
In a study published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatric Medicine, among a group of 64 men and women with chronic stress, after two months of ashwagandha treatment, standardized test scores revealed stress reduced by 44 percent, anxiety and insomnia by 68 percent and severe depression by 79 percent. Depression and anxiety are hallmarks of bipolar disorder.