In chronic Lyme and associated diseases Ashwagandha is an herbal medicine adaptogen, a substance which improves the ability to withstand stress, that
- improves energy and stamina,
- stimulates white blood cells to fight infection,
- balances adrenal and thyroid gland function,
- decreases inflammation, and
- decreases anxiety.
Marty Ross MD on Ashwagandha in chronic Lyme disease.
Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic herbal medicine adaptogen, a substance which improves the ability to withstand stress. Ashwagandha is an essential medicinal herb that I use with great benefit in most of my Lyme disease treatments. There is not a comparable prescription medicine. In my experience, Ashwgandha successfully reverses the harmful effects of physical and emotional stress created by Lyme and associated diseases.
The stress of being ill with Lyme can alter the healthy functioning of our stress hormone systems regulated by the adrenal glands. When they are functioning properly the adrenal glands release hormones and other chemicals in correct amounts. These include hydrocortisone, adrenaline, and mineral regulating hormones.
Under acute stress, like saving a person from a fire, hydrocortisone mobilizes sugar to provide energy and adrenaline causes a person to think clearer, energizes, makes the heart pump more quickly and harder, and helps our muscles to spring into action. But under chronic stress, adrenal function becomes dysregulated and out of balance. This leads to low energy and stamina, immune suppression, low thyroid gland function, anxiety at times, and increased inflammation. Based on research and my own experience, Ashwagandha reverses these effects of adrenal dysregulation or what some call adrenal fatigue.
Method of Action
The exact mechanisms of how Ashwagandha works are not known. There are however numerous animal studies that support its benefits (1). Among the findings of these studies ashwagandha:
- normalizes levels of hydrocortisone,
- causes the size of the adrenal glands to return to normal,
- increases thyroid hormone levels,
- decreases inflammatory cytokines,
- decreases oxidizing agents that can trigger inflammation,
- decreases brain chemicals associated with anxiety,
- markedly improves stamina and energy, and
- turns on and improves white blood cell function to fight infections.
I recommend Ashwagandha 400mg 2 pills in the morning and 2 pills between 1-2 pm. If insomnia worsens, decrease the afternoon dose to 1 pill.
Some of my colleagues recommend Siberian ginseng, licorice, rhodiola, or extracts of animal adrenal glands to treat adrenal dysregulation. However, I do not like to work with these alternatives because I find that they are too energetically hot or stimulating. Ashwagandha on the other hand is energetically neutral and does not over stimulate a person who has chronic Lyme disease.
This is a safe herbal medicine without any know adverse interactions with other herbal medicines or prescription medicines.It should not be used during pregnancy.
1. Mishra L, Singh B, Dagenais S. Scientific Basis for the Therapeutic Use of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha): A Review. Altern Med Rev 2000;5(4) 334-346.
by Marty Ross MD