Ashwagandha May Lessen Feelings of Pain, Small Study Shows

July 11, 2013

Researchers say the ingredient could be an alternative to analgesic drugs, which may present side effects such as drowsiness, constipation, and nausea.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an ayurvedic herb that previous studies show may alleviate pain stemming from conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. A small study published in the May 2013 issue of Research Journal of Life Sciences indicates that a branded, standardized ashwagandha extract, Sensoril, may significantly increase human subjects’ threshold to pain.

The single-dose study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover design with a 10-14 day washout period. The study group comprised 12 healthy males aged 18-40. Subjects were given either placebo or a single oral dose of 1000 mg of Sensoril. Thereafter, researchers applied a pain test, which involved blowing hot air on subjects’ forearms and measuring the pain threshold (the point at which subjects indicated they felt pain). The study took place at the department of clinical pharmacology and therapeutics at the NIZAMS Institute of Medical Sciences in Hyderabad, India.

Researchers reported that the Sensoril dose provided a 12.85% increase in resistance to heat stress and pain three hours after consumption. Although the researchers note “the mechanism by which Withania somnifera exerted the beneficial effects is presently not clear,” they pointed out that a previous animal study indicated that effects may be “mediated both by the central and peripheral mechanisms.”

They added that, while further studies are needed to confirm Sensoril’s pain-alleviating properties, the ingredient could be an alternative to analgesic drugs, which may present side effects such as drowsiness, constipation, and nausea.

Natreon Inc. (New Brunswick, NJ) and distributor NutraGenesis LLC (Brattleboro, VT) supply Sensoril. The companies recently announced they have modified Sensoril’s specifications, increasing the standardized levels of the ingredient’s adaptogenic glycowithanolides from a minimum of 8% now up to 10%. Additionally, the companies changed the ingredient’s withaferin A standardization level from a maximum of 2% to 0.5%.

“We are delighted with the results of this study and the compelling data which this research has revealed about Sensoril’s ability to be fast-acting,” said Sanni Raju, PhD, CEO and chairman of the board of Natreon, in a press release.