Researchers, led by one of Indian-origin have found that this ancient ayurvedic herb may promote sound sleep to those who suffers from insomnia.
Mahesh K. Kaushik from the University of Tsukuba in Japan said, the findings 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.
For the study, the team investigated the effect of various components of Ashwagandha on sleep in mice by recording electroencephalogram and electromyography.
A water extract of 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, crude powder including significant amount of TEG can be consumed for better sleep without any side effects, the researchers said.