Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is renowned as an herbal adaptogen. In the Indian Ayurvedic tradition, Ashwagandha is used as a Rasayana: a dietary supplement or practice promoting rejuvenation, mental and physical health, as well as providing a defense against aging and challenging environmental factors. Ashwagandha root has been shown to protect brain cells from oxidative damage caused by exposure to stressors.1
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Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.
For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.
Animal and human studies suggest that deficiencies of omega-3 fatty acids may contribute to behaviors associated with unhealthy responses to stress.1, 2 A double-blind study of students with a low dietary intake of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid) reported that taking 1.5 to 1.8 grams of DHA per day for three months prevented an increase in aggressiveness in these students during a stressful final exam period.3 This group of researchers reported in another double-blind study that 1.5 grams per day of DHA given to medical students during a stressful exam period resulted in changes in some, though not all, blood measurements indicating improved responses to stress.4
1. Reisbick S, Neuringer M, Hasnain R, Connor WE. Home cage behavior of rhesus monkeys with long-term deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids. Physiol Behav 1994;55:231-9.
2. Stevens LJ, Zentall SS, Abate ML, et al. Omega-3 fatty acids in boys with behavior, learning, and health problems. Physiol Behav 1996;59:915-20.
3. Hamazaki T, Sawazaki S, Itomura M, et al. The effect of docosahexaenoic acid on aggression in young adults. A placebo-controlled double-blind study. J Clin Invest 1996;97:1129-33.
4. Sawazaki S, Hamazaki T, Yazawa K, Kobayashi M. The effect of docosahexaenoic acid on plasma catecholamine concentrations and glucose tolerance during long-lasting psychological stress: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol 1999;45:655-65.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid present in cod liver oil and other fish oils, is important for normal development of the brain and eyes. Studies have shown that higher concentrations of DHA in mothers’ milk are associated with better visual acuity in the infants.1 Other studies have suggested that DHA improves the development of infants, although not all research agrees.2 Because DHA in the mother’s diet passes into the breast milk,3 some doctors advise nursing mothers to supplement their diet with cod liver oil or another fish-oil supplement. Women wishing to use this or any supplement while breast-feeding should consult their doctors and use only under the supervision of a qualified healthcare practitioner.
1. Jorgensen MH, Hernell O, Hughes E, Michaelsen KF. Is there a relation between docosahexaenoic acid concentration in mothers' milk and visual development in term infants? J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 2001;32:293-6.
2. Gibson RA, Makrides M. Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in breast milk: are they essential? Adv Exp Med Biol 2001;501:375-83.
3. Harris WS, Connor WE, Lindsey S. Will dietary w-3 fatty acids change the composition of human milk? Am J Clin Nutr 1984;40:780-5.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid, belongs to the class of nutrients called essential fatty acids.
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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2018.