The aetiology of weight gain and obesity is a complex and often multifactorial puzzle. Though, it can be agreed upon that one very common denominator may often be chronic stress.
Chronic stress comes in many forms from work or home-life demands, financial pressures, educational commitments, relationships and high-intensity or endurance exercise.
Chronic stress activates the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. This can result in systemic elevations of stress hormones, including cortisol, which can lead to increased hunger, increased visceral adiposity, metabolic syndromes, changes in eating patterns, increased food intake, binge eating and reduced physical exercise.
In naturopathic medicine, the herb Withania somnifera has a long history of use as an adaptogen, to support the body through times of increased stress or anxiety. The body of evidence for withania continues to grow, showing it can have meaningful impacts on blood cortisol. This certainly helps to account for its action in bringing about an improvement in a sense of one’s wellbeing.
With these actions in mind, researchers recently designed a study to look more closely at the impact of a standardised extract of withania (KSM-66®) on the management of body weight in chronically stressed individuals.
This double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial recruited 52 chronically stressed subjects to receive either 300mg of withania KSM-66® or placebo twice daily over 8 weeks. Each subject was assessed at the start and at 4 and 8 weeks.
At the conclusion of the study, serum cortisol levels, body weight, body mass index (BMI), perceived stress scale (PSS) and food craving questionnaire (FCQ) scores were significantly improved compared to controls. Body weight and BMI reductions were 3.03% and 2.93%, respectively, in the treatment group compared to 1.46% and 1.4% in the control group. Furthermore the authors found that the extract was both safe and tolerable.
The researchers concluded that this study suggests that withania KSM-66® extract can be used for body weight management in adults under chronic stress.
As part of a balanced dietary and exercise regime, employing effective adaptogenic herbs to target the body’s stress response may be an essential additional layer to unravelling resistant weight gain issues in clients.
The safety and efficacy profile of withania KSM-66® continues to grow, making it an ideal evidence-based choice.
- Choudhary D, Bhattacharyya S, Joshi K. Body weight management in adults under chronic stress through treatment with Ashwagandha root extract: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med 2017;22(1):96-106 [Abstract]