Today’s stress is tomorrow’s thinning hair — and Nutrafol is committed to sourcing the highest quality adaptogens to combat stress as a root cause of thinning hair. Below, our science team dives deep on the clinical efficacy of Sensoril® ashwagandha, which can be found in no hair supplement other than Nutrafol.
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The botanical Withania somnifera, commonly known as ashwagandha, has been a key therapeutic tool used in eastern systems of medicine for thousands of years.
Ashwagandha has many traditional uses, including supporting overall vitality and longevity. Using specialized extraction processes, the most influential, therapeutic bioactive components of the plant have been standardized to create the patented extract Sensoril® ashwagandha. Sensoril® has been shown in research to improve physiological processes associated with the hair growth cycle, including supporting a healthy immune response, decreasing markers of oxidative stress and inflammatory markers, and reducing symptoms and biomarkers of chronic stress. (Natreon Inc. 2018)
Nutrafol strives to select ingredients demonstrating the utmost therapeutic potential to benefit hair growth, especially those that address a healthy stress response. On top of the efficacy demonstrated in numerous human clinical research studies, the consideration for local impact, quality, and care associated with the cultivation and processing of Sensoril® ashwagandha is what attracted Nutrafol to choose it for its holistic hair growth support formulations. In fact, Nutrafol is the only hair growth supplement that features Sensoril® ashwagandha as one of its ingredients.
Ashwagandha’s ayurvedic roots
Also referred to as Indian ginseng or winter cherry, ashwagandha is found in the Indian subcontinent and has been used alone and in combination with other plants in traditional ayurvedic and eastern systems of medicine for over 3,000 years to promote youthful vitality and improve overall health (Lopresti 2019, Ingawale 2020).
In ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha is referred to as a “royal herb,” given its rejuvenative effects on the body (Provino 2010). Ashwagandha grows about two feet tall, produces bright red fruit, and is harvested in the fall. Modern research has focused primarily on the root of the plant. Belonging to the genus Withania and family Solanaceae, ashwagandha’s considerable spectrum of phytochemicals has been attributed to a promising array of positive biological effects, including those we associate with optimal hair growth (Ingawale 2020, Dar 2015).
Ashwagandha therapeutically belongs to the family of substances classified as adaptogens, which are defined as nontoxic substances, commonly originating from plants, having the capability to increase the body’s ability to combat the damaging effects of stress by supporting or restoring normal physiological functioning (Panossian 2010).
Sensoril® ashwagandha: sustainably sourced, organically grown
Sensoril® ashwagandha is sourced from Madhya Pradesh in central India and grown on certified organic farms. Seeds spend 40 days in sandy nursery beds before seedlings are transported to fields to fully mature. About 160 to 180 days after they were originally sown, the plant’s leaves dry and berries develop, signifying their readiness for harvest. Sustainable sourcing methods are used in these farm-grow operations in order to improve the lives of nearby farmers and the local economy. All raw material used to create Sensoril® ashwagandha is directly sourced from these local farms in India and are processed according to Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) standards.
Processing and extraction
Though the ashwagandha plant has been used for thousands of years, Sensoril® ashwagandha, as a comprehensive standardized extract of the most crucial bioactive aspects of the plant, is able to demonstrate superior performance. Unlike most modern extracts, Sensoril® ashwagandha is a patented combination of derivatives from both the ashwagandha leaf and root, just as traditional ayurvedic medicine has classically emphasized. Specialized, water-based extraction is utilized to standardize the most clinically important active constituents of the plant: withanolide glycosides, oligosaccharides, and withaferin A. This patented extract is certified organic, vegan, and verified by The Non-GMO Project, as well as kosher, halal, and generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA (Natreon Inc. 2018).
Most dynamic chemical constituents of ashwagandha are classified as withanolides, with more than 12 alkaloids and 40 withanolides being isolated and studied from ashwagandha thus far. Withanolide glycosides, specified as glycosylated steroidal lactones, are associated with anti-stress properties. The steroidal lactone withaferin A is associated with the most therapeutic benefit, including anti-stress, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial properties. Oligosaccharides, an underappreciated component of the plant, act as supporters of other beneficial compounds like withanolide glycosides and enhance their bioavailability. This action is utilized in the combination extract Sensoril® ashwagandha. Sensoril® is standardized to 10% withanolide glycosides, 0.5% withaferin A, and 32% oligosaccharides (Natreon Inc. 2018, Ahmad 2017, Wal 2019).
Clinical use and indications of Sensoril® ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is classified as an adaptogen for its ability to support the body’s capability of handling stress, combating stress-associated physiological damage, and supporting balanced physiological functioning. Ashwagandha has demonstrated various biological actions such as anti-stress, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, cardio, hepato and neuro-protective, immunomodulation, and anti-cancer properties. Ashwagandha has also shown promise in mitigating reactive oxygen species and inflammation, supporting mitochondrial and endothelial function, as well as modulation of mitochondria (Ingawale 2020).
Though the ashwagandha root has gained most attention in modern research, the leaf has been used traditionally as well, thanks to its diverse health benefits. The roots of ashwagandha are associated with improved vitality, longevity support, and support of healthy immune function. The leaves, meanwhile, have been shown to possess anti-inflammatory capabilities, anti-microbial properties, anti-tumor properties, and protective properties to human cells against oxidative damage. The combination of both leaf and root of the ashwagandha plant into Sensoril® ashwagandha is part of what makes this extract so distinguished. Research on Sensoril® has indicated that the standardized combination of bioactive constituents from both aspects of the plant offers greater benefit than root or leaf extracts alone (Natreon Inc. 2018).
Sensoril® ashwagandha has been shown to improve various factors associated with overall health, including those specifically associated with support of the hair growth cycle, such as decreasing stress, improving sleep, and decreasing pro-inflammatory cytokines (Auddy 2008, Pingali 2013, Pingali 2014, Pilli 2016). Sensoril® ashwagandha has been tested successfully in over 10 human clinical studies.
Stress, sleep, and anti-aging support
Sensoril® ashwagandha has been shown to reduce feelings of everyday stress and help the body to better cope with daily stressors. This is noteworthy, as stress can cause significantly negative impacts on hair health, including inhibition of growth.
When studied, Sensoril® has been shown to decrease feelings of overall stress by 62% compared to placebo, judged by the Hamilton anxiety scale, standardized for stress (Auddy 2008). Human clinical trials with use of Sensoril® compared to placebo have shown a significant reduction in levels of the stress-hormone cortisol, as well as the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP) (Pingali 2013). Sensoril® ashwagandha has been shown to nearly double the ability to focus when studied compared to placebo, likely owing to its adaptogenic properties aiding in balancing the internal stress response when under pressure. Sensoril® ashwagandha has also been shown to help improve reaction time dramatically when studied in subjects compared to placebo, likely owing to the same reasons (Auddy 2008).
Observed improvements in quality and length of sleep with use of Sensoril® ashwagandha are attributed to the improvements it has demonstrated in stress and, specifically, the reduction in stress hormone cortisol, which, when increased, has the capability to disrupt various hormonal processes of the body, like our circadian rhythm (Wright 2015). However, part of ashwagandha’s ability to support anti-aging and stress reduction may be circularly attributed to this ability to support sleep. Sensoril® has been shown to reduce symptoms attributed to sleeplessness, thus allowing optimal time for physiological recovery of the body. When studied, Sensoril® was shown to decrease sleeplessness three times more effectively than placebo intervention (Auddy 2008). This physiological benefit is supportive for both general health and proper functioning of the hair growth cycle.
Oxidative stress and blood flow
In a randomized, double-blind study, Sensoril® ashwagandha was shown to significantly improve biomarkers of oxidative stress, such as nitric oxide levels and high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), compared to placebo. This is especially important when considering the effect of high levels of oxidative stress on the hair follicle, leading to follicle regression and loss of immune privilege. This study also showed improvements in endothelial function and healthy blood flow, a parameter considered when looking at hair health, as proper blood flow is essential for nurturing healthy hair growth (Usharani 2014). A separate randomized, double-blind study corroborated these findings (Kumar 2014).
Immunomodulation and the inflammatory response
A clinical study found that treatment with Sensoril® ashwagandha supported markers of healthy immune response, including improvements in hsCRP and HbA1c compared to placebo (Usharani 2014). These improvements, indicating support of a healthy immune response, have been demonstrated in various other human studies (Pingali 2013, Kumar 2014).
With the use of Sensoril® ashwagandha, subjects have reported significant improvements to joint function and swelling, as well as improvements in joint pain and stiffness. No doubt this is partially thanks to the balancing properties Sensoril® has on inflammatory mediators (Ramakanth 2016). As an inflammatory response plays a role in driving many hair thinning pathways, this was an important consideration for Nutrafol.
Mechanism of action
The mechanism of action of Withania somnifera is largely attributed to ashwagandha’s successful activity as an anti-stress adaptogen. As we know, stress disrupts the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis and normal central nervous system functioning, leading to internal physiological imbalance of various systems resulting in hormonal imbalances, such as thyroid and reproductive hormones, immunosuppression, and impact to mood and cognition.
Active constituents of Sensoril® ashwagandha have been shown in clinical research to regulate homeostasis and promote allostasis in these physiological systems, particularly through its impact on the HPA axis and regulation of key mediators of stress, oxidation, and immune function. Sensoril® ashwagandha has been shown to decrease key biomarkers of stress, like cortisol, and improve markers of immune response, like CRP (Usharani 2014, Kumar 2014, Ramakanth 2016, Panossian 2010). As dysfunctions in these areas have been widely documented to contribute to impairments in hair growth, Nutrafol has included Sensoril® ashwagandha as an ingredient in order to harness these positive effects as part of its multifactorial approach to improving thinning hair.
Warnings and contraindications
Ashwagandha has been found to be generally safe if taken in the accepted prescribed dose range, and 10 clinical studies have corroborated the safety of Sensoril® ashwagandha. Studies are consistent with noting no serious adverse events with use of Sensoril® ashwagandha extract (Ablon 2018, Chandrasekhar 2012). Sensoril also obtains a self-affirmed GRAS statement from the FDA.
- Ablon, G., & Kogan, S. (2018). A Six-Month, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study Evaluating the Safety and Efficacy of a Nutraceutical Supplement for Promoting Hair Growth in Women With Self-Perceived Thinning Hair. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology : JDD, 17(5), 558–565.
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- Kumar, Uday. (2014). A Comparative Study To Evaluate The Effect Of Highly Standardised Aqueous Extracts Of Phyllanthus Emblica, Withania Somnifera And Their Combination On Endothelial Dysfunction And Biomarkers In Patients With Type II Diabetes Mellitus.
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