Bipolar Disorder Improved with Ashwagandha Treatment

ashwagandha bipolar disorder

Ashwagandha for bipolar disorder

Researchers have determined that the Ayurvedic herb Ashwagandha can significantly treat elements of bipolar disorder.

Bipolar patients studied

The researchers, from the University of Pittsburgh’s Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, randomly divided 60 DSM-IV bipolar patients into two groups. 53 patients completed the study. For eight weeks they gave 24 patients 500 milligrams per day of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) herb extract, and 29 patients a placebo.

The researchers gave the patients a series of bipolar tests to gauge cognition, response time, social cognition response and others.

After the eight weeks, the researchers found the Ashwagandha group had significantly improved in the digit span backward test, the Flanker neutral response time, and the Penn Emotional Acuity Test for social cognition response.

The digital span backward test is conduced by having the patient repeat back a series of numbers backward. Other memory span tests use letters or words for a reverse recall. Recalling in reverse measures the ability of the brain’s cognitive potential together with its functional memory.

The researchers concluded:

“Although results are preliminary, Ashwagandha extract appears to improve auditory-verbal working memory (digit span backward), a measure of reaction time, and a measure of social cognition in bipolar disorder.”

The researchers also noted that the treatment was safe with few side effects.

Anxiety and depression

Other research has found that Ashwaghanda is effective for depression and anxiety, both elements of bipolar disorder.

A hospital study of 64 people with chronic stress found that 2 months of Ashwagandha therapy reduced reduced anxiety/insomnia by 68%, reduced severe depression by 79 percent, and reduced stress by 44%.

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Another placebo-controlled double-blind study of 120 children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) found that Ashwagandha treatment improved “attention, cognition, and impulse control” among the ADHD children.

Still other studies have shown that Ashwagandha reduces oxidation among brain regions.


Chengappa KN, Bowie CR, Schlicht PJ, Fleet D, Brar JS, Jindal R. Randomized placebo-controlled adjunctive study of an extract of withania somnifera for cognitive dysfunction in bipolar disorder. J Clin Psychiatry. 2013 Nov;74(11):1076-83. doi: 10.4088/JCP.13m08413.

Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, Anishetty S. A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of Ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Ind Jnl Psych Med. 2012 34(3): 255-262.

Katz M, Levine AA, Kol-Degani H, Kav-Venaki L. A compound herbal preparation (CHP) in the treatment of children with ADHD: a randomized controlled trial. J Atten Disord. 2010 Nov;14(3):281-91. doi: 10.1177/1087054709356388.

Case Adams is a California Naturopath with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and a Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies. “My journey into writing about alternative medicine began about 9:30 one evening after I finished with a patient at the clinic I practiced at over a decade ago. I had just spent the last two hours explaining how diet, sleep and other lifestyle choices create health problems and how changes in these, along with certain herbal medicines and other natural strategies can radically yet safely turn our health around. As I drove home that night, I realized this knowledge should be available to more people. So I began writing about health with a mission to reach those who desperately need this information. The strategies in my books and articles are backed by scientific evidence along with wisdom handed down through traditional medicines for thousands of years.”

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