Ashwagandha is Beneficial in Alleviating Cognitive Dysfunction

In the obese individual, cognitive disturbances, including problem solving, working memory, and neuro-muscular coordination, have been demonstrated to affect both social and mental abilities. Ashwagandha (ASH), recognized for its memory boosting and restorative functions “is traditionally used as a rasayana (tonic) that works in a holistic manner to promote overall health and vitality”, and has also been reported to support memory. Cognitive shortfalls across the lifespan have been associated with “obesity (without any comorbid medical condition)”. In fact, both genetics and dietinduced obesity (DIO) are recognized to seriously impair both Hippocampal synaptic plasticity and spatial memory. Applying an animal model of Alzheimer’s disease, animals were administered a standardized dose of ASH dry leaf powder in an effort to investigate AHS’s potential benefits on the recovery of “cognitive skills and neuromuscular functions impaired by DIO.” It was determined that in rats fed a high fat diet “ASH treatment improved the memory and learning-based functions by promoting the activity dependent hippocampal plasticity and cell survival,” as well as by decreasing the cellular stress. ASH supplementation also enhanced the expression of total and phosphorylated Akt-1 in rats fed both the low-fat diet extract (LFDE) and the high fat diet extract (HFDE) in both the brain regions, and in neuronal cells, thereby promoting survival conditions. AKT is defined as a “critical mediator of growth factor-induced neuronal survival, and Akt1 is critical for transmitting growth-promoting signals.”(1) ASH intake in HFDE group was noted to normalize the upregulated levels of corticosterone to basal levels. It was thus concluded that “ASH treatment improved memory and learning based functions by promoting activity dependent hippocampal plasticity and cell survival, and by reducing cellular stress.”

Manchanda S, Kaur Gurcharan. Withania somnifera leaf alleviates cognitive dysfunction by enhancing hippocampal plasticity in high fat diet induced obesity model. BMC Complementary and
Alternative Medicine. 2017 17:136. DOI 10.1186/s12906-017-1652-0

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