Insomniac? This ancient ayurvedic herb may improve sleep

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Tokyo — Do you find it difficult to sleep or have poor sleep quality? Try Ashwagandha, an ancient Indian herb that is used for centuries in Ayurveda to promote sound sleep, say researchers, led by one of Indian-origin.

The study showed that an active component of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) leaves — triethylene glycol (TEG) — significantly induces sleep, and could revolutionise the natural plant-based therapies for insomnia and sleep related disorders, said Mahesh K. Kaushik from the University of Tsukuba in Japan.

Ashwagandha’s latin name somnifera means sleep-inducing.

For the research, the team investigated the effect of various components of Ashwaganda on sleep in mice by recording electroencephalogram and electromyography.

A water extract of Ashwaganda leaf, which is rich in the component triethylene glycol (TEG), significantly increased non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep as well as slightly changed rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

Conversely, the alcoholic extract containing active withanolides showed no effect on sleep, while the sleep induced by TEG was similar to normal sleep.

Furthermore, commercially available TEG also increased the amount of NREM sleep. Thus, the researchers concluded that TEG is the active component that induces physiologically sound sleep.

Sleeplessness and other sleep disorders, such as restless leg syndrome are common complaints among the middle-aged population.

Insomnia is one of the most common neuropsychiatric disorders, with an estimated incident of 10-15 per cent in general population and 30-60 per cent in elderly population.

It is closely linked with certain other diseases including obesity, cardiovascular diseases, depression, anxiety, mania deficits, etc.

Currently available synthetic drugs often show severe side effects.

On the other hand, Ashwagandha crude powder including significant amount of TEG can be consumed for better sleep without any side effects, the researchers said.



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