Healthy joints are so important for pain-free mobility, which is necessary if you wish to live a long, independent, and fulfilling life.
There are several fundamental elements to keeping joints healthy and pain-free. One of the most important is moving each and every joint through its complete range of motion daily. Another is making sure you “feed” your joints the necessary vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are essential to maintaining healthy joint cartilage.
The Herb that Keeps Joints Healthy & Mobile
Along with those key components, there’s also a specific adaptogenic herb that can significantly aid in keeping joints healthy and mobile: Withania somnifera, or as it is known in the ancient Ayurvedic healing system, ashwagandha.
In Ayurvedic medicine, a select group of herbs like ashwagandha are labeled adaptogens because they have been shown to help the body “adapt” to a changing environment. In particular, they chemically reduce the detrimental effects of stress and promote an overall balance of chemistry within the body.
I firmly believe that adaptogens as a whole are one of the most overlooked secrets when it comes to preserving energy levels, rejuvenating the body, and dealing with a wide-ranging list of health complaints and stress-related illnesses.
Ashwagandha & Joints—A Well-Kept Secret
It’s not well known, but ashwagandha can actually have a significant impact on joint health, reducing pain and inflammation and protecting joint cartilage.
In one study, 60 patients aged 40–70 with chronic knee joint pain and discomfort were divided into three groups. One group received 250 mg twice daily of ashwagandha extract; the second group received 125 mg twice daily. The final group took a 125 mg placebo capsule twice a day.
Using the accepted m-WOMAC and Knee Swelling Index that are used in arthritis and joint studies, at the end of 12 weeks everyone taking the ashwagandha extract showed significant improvement in pain and discomfort scores. Those on the placebo experienced no positive changes.
All of those taking the ashwagandha, regardless of dosage, experienced significantly less pain, stiffness, and overall disability. The participants taking the higher dosage (250 mg) started noticing improvement sooner (around four weeks), while those taking the smaller dosage (125 mg) took longer (eight weeks).
Researchers felt the improvements experienced by those taking this ashwagandha extract, called Sensoril, could probably be attributed to its pain- diverting capabilities and its known ability to protect joint cartilage.
Plus, Ashwagandha Helps Stress & Anxiety
Many additional studies have examined ashwagandha’s other benefits. One big area is ashwagandha for stress and anxiety.
In one such study, researchers gave participants with anxiety different dosages (125 mg/day, 250 mg/day, and 500 mg/day, plus a placebo group). All the participants taking ashwagandha reported significantly less stress and anxiety. After 30 and 60 days, the participants felt less fatigue, flushing, perspiration, loss of appetite, headache, muscle pain, feelings of impending doom, palpitations, dry mouth, sleeplessness, forgetfulness, irritability, and inability to concentrate. Those taking the placebo experienced no such benefits.
Ashwagandha’s benefits come from a complex mix of various natural compounds that work together in many different ways. One of these processes involves the reduced release of the stress hormone cortisol from the adrenal glands. This explains why, in addition to stress and anxiety, ashwagandha can help with problems like obesity, sleep, fertility, and hormone imbalance in women.
Ashwagandha also exhibits the following properties:
- Immunomodulatory (regulates or “adjusts” the immune system)
- Hematopoietic (promotes the formation of healthy blood cells)
Not All Ashwagandha Is the Same
It’s important to note that many of the studies demonstrating these benefits used specific extracts of ashwagandha. Not all ashwagandha products or extracts are the same.
Based on my research and experience, two products are currently setting the standard for ashwagandha—Sensoril and KSM-66. These two patented formulations are produced somewhat differently from each other. As such, each seems to excel in different areas.
Sensoril extract comes from both the leaves and the roots of the plant, which produces higher levels of withanolide glycosides—a group of at least seven or eight related compounds found in ashwagandha. Sensoril’s formulation is the only ashwagandha extract that is standardized to 10% withanolides. Most other extracts contain 1–3% withanolides, or even less. When it comes to the active withanolide, studies show that a single capsule of Sensoril equals about eight capsules of other extracts.
In developing KSM-66, researchers took a different approach. This extract is standardized to 5% withanolides. Instead of using both the leaves and the roots of the plant, only the root is used. The goal isn’t to produce the highest levels of withanolides, but instead retain the balance of the other natural components found in ashwagandha. From an Ayurvedic standpoint, I guess you could say that KSM-66 is a more traditional product that offers the highest concentration of the “full spectrum” of ashwagandha compounds.
In choosing between one or the other, I prefer the strength of Sensoril for joint issues. For dealing with stress and sleep support, I prefer the full-spectrum, more balanced KSM-66 product.
The public is just beginning to realize the many benefits of ashwagandha. With the dramatic increase in joint disability, debilitating arthritis, and joint replacement in this country, ashwagandha is another safe, effective tool that can be used to address these growing problems. The additional properties are icing on the cake. It’s little wonder why Ayurvedic practitioners have referred to ashwagandha as the anti-aging or rejuvenation herb for centuries.