For several years now, research on KSM-66 ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) has backed its potential for stress relief. A new study now suggests those benefits may also extend to reducing excessive food consumption associated with stress.
Writing in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, researchers found that KSM-66 supplementation led to reduced psychological and physiological markers of stress, improved eating behavior, and reduced food cravings in moderately overweight adults who reported suffering from chronic stress. The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study also found that participants consuming KSM-66 ashwagandha experienced significant reductions to body weight and body mass index.
“It is well known that the ashwagandha root has significant ability to reduce stress and cortisol,” said Kartikeya Baldwa, director of Ixoreal Biomed, supplier of KSM-66, in the study announcement. “On this basis, many practitioners have believed that the root should help combat some of the effects of stress and cortisol, such as reactive eating and the reliance on food as a coping mechanism.”
Baldwa added that until now, there has been “no direct evidence” linking KSM-66 consumption with stress-related eating.
“This is the first study to show that ashwagandha can reduce food cravings and emotional eating mediated by stress relief,” Baldwa said.
For eight weeks, 52 moderately overweight men and women aged 18–60 were randomized to consume 300 mg of KSM-66 or a placebo twice daily. Participants reported suffering from chronic stress but were otherwise healthy. Researchers assessed the effect of KSM-66 supplementation with a perceived stress scale, food cravings questionnaire, Oxford Happiness Questionnaire, and three-factor eating questionnaire (TFEQ), in addition to measuring serum cortisol, body weight, and body mass index (BMI). Subjects were assessed at the beginning of the study, four weeks after beginning supplementation, and eight weeks after beginning supplementation.
In the KSM-66 group, researchers observed significant reductions to scores for “uncontrolled eating” and “emotional eating” on the TFEQ, suggesting people consuming KSM-66 are less likely to turn to food consumption to cope with stress. Researchers also found that KSM-66 supplementation significantly reduced body weight and BMI, while also leading to significant improvement to markers of contentment and psychological well-being.
“Therefore, we conclude that ashwagandha root extract can be useful for body-weight management in patients experiencing chronic stress,” researchers wrote.
Nutritional Outlook Magazine
Choudhary D et al., “Body weight management in adults under chronic stress through treatment with ashwagandha root extract: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial,” Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine. Published online April 6, 2016.