Herb Extract Shown to Enhance Sleep Quality, Mental Alertness in the Elderly

Ashwagandha root extract, a revered herb of Ayurveda, was associated with improvements in quality of life, sleep quality, and mental alertness in elderly patients, according to study findings.

Ashwagandha root extract, a revered herb in Ayurvedic medicine (Ayurveda), was associated with improvements in quality of life (QOL), sleep quality, and mental alertness in elderly patients, according to study findings published in Cureus.

Ayurveda is among the most ancient holistic healing systems in the world, which study authors noted has generated better health benefits for various diseases and also for general well-being and rejuvenation. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), commonly known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry, is a staple in Ayurveda that has been linked with promoting health and longevity, slowing the aging process, and acting as a revitalizer.

Prior research on the herb has shown that it is well tolerated in humans and induces sleep in mice. Researchers sought to examine its efficacy in the growing global elderly population, who often report issues interfering with QOL, including joint pain management, sleep, and general well-being.

The 12-week, prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study included participants (n = 50) aged between 65 and 80 years, who received either Ashwagandha root extract at a dose of 600 mg per day orally (n = 25) or identical placebo capsules with the same dose (n = 25). The primary objectives of the study were to assess the safety, efficacy, and tolerability of Ashwagandha root extract on the improvement of general health and sleep in elderly individuals.

Efficacy was determined through the WHO Quality of Life-BREF questionnaire (WHOQOL-BREF), sleep quality, mental alertness on rising, and Physician’s Global Assessment of Efficacy to Therapy. Additionally, safety and tolerability were assessed using the clinical adverse events reporting and Patient’s Global Assessment of Tolerability to Therapy.

Compared with those given placebo, patients who received Ashwagandha root extract exhibited a statistically significant improvement in QOL (P <.0001), supported by improvements in the mean (SD) total score of WHOQOL-BREF from baseline to after 12 weeks (140.53 [8.25] vs 161.84 [9.32]). Additionally, sleep quality and mental alertness on rising, which were comparatively low in both groups at baseline, showed a significant increase in the treatment group after intervention compared with the placebo group (quality of sleep, P <.0001; mental alertness, P <.034).

Researchers noted that overall improvement was observed for the general well-being, sleep quality, and mental alertness in the study cohort given Ashwagandha. The herb extract demonstrated good tolerability and was reported as reported as safe and beneficial by participants.

Researchers note that because the study was conducted in a single study site and had a small sample size, a multicenter study with a longer duration and larger subject groups is warranted to confirm study findings, as well as to give a better understanding of the long-term effects of Ashwagandha in elderly people.


Kelgane SB, Salve J, Sampara P, et al. Efficacy and tolerability of Ashwagandha root extract in the elderly for improvement of general well-being and sleep: a prospective, randomized, doubleblind, placebo-controlled study [published online February 23, 2020]. Cureus. doi: 10.7759/cureus.7083.

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