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Ashwaganda: Effects on Stress, Inflammation and Immune Cell Activation

Principal Investigator:  Heather Zwickey, PhD & Padma Raman-Caplan

Ayurvedic medicine has been practiced in India for more than 2,500 years. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is one of the most widely utilized herbs in the system. It is thought to affect the endocrine, immune, nervous, and cardiopulmonary systems. This study was designed as a preliminary investigation of the effects of Ashwagandha on stress, inflammation, and immune modulation. Participants took the liquid extract in cow’s milk twice a day for five days. The results of initial, one-day, and final blood draws were compared to determine participant’s beginning and ending levels of cortisol, inflammatory cytokines, and immune-cell activation (CD4 T-cells, CD8 T-cells, B cells and natural killer cells). Measurements were completed using flow cytometry and ELISA assay. The purpose of this study is to determine which effects of Ashwagandha are most suitable for further investigation.