It’s perfectly all right for you to get palpitations after a long run or a flight of stairs, but do you notice your heartbeat kicking up or get a fluttering sensation in your chest when you are anxious, nervous, or stressed? Or even all of a sudden? Don’t brush these observations aside as inconsequential. A research finding published in the American Journal of Medicine stated that among the study subjects, 43% had palpitations because of heart-related diseases and 31% because of psychiatric diseases.1 Though palpitations do not necessarily imply any serious underlying medical condition, they do need to be taken seriously if arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat is noticed.2
“Probable underlying health problems
- Heart disease or abnormal heart valve, such as mitral valve prolapse
- Abnormal levels of potassium in blood
- Reaction to medicines including those used to treat asthma, high blood pressure, or heart problems
- Overactive thyroid gland
- Low level of oxygen in blood3”
Common causes for heart palpitation
- Anxiety, stress, panic attack, or fear
- Excessive caffeine or nicotine intake
- Drug abuse
- Diet pills
Ashwagandha is a herbal remedy that is useful in reducing palpitations. Let’s see how it helps.
1. Reduces Stress-Related Palpitations By Lowering Cortisol
The stress hormone, cortisol, gets released into the blood stream at times of stress. People undergoing stress typically experience irregular heartbeat and palpitations. Ashwagandha is known as an adaptogenic herb, or a herb that’s effective in managing stress.
A study on stressed people showed that administering high-concentration, full-spectrum ashwagandha root extract in the form of capsules for 60 days brought the cortisol levels of the test subjects down by 28 percent.4 The decrease in cortisol levels also marks a reduction in palpitation.
2. Lowers Anxiety-Related Palpitations
Palpitations are a common symptom of anxiety, whether it is chronic anxiety or caused by an immediate factor. A study done at the Department of Pharmacology, University of Texas Health Science Center, indicated that ashwagandha extracts acted like GABA, the neurotransmitter that regulates anxiety. This is the reason ashwagandha is touted as an anti-anxiety herb.5
3. Lowers Palpitation By Treating Hyperthyroidism
When the thyroid gland acts more than it should, it produces more thyroid hormones than the body needs. This extra hormone speeds up the body’s metabolism, making it work harder than it needs to and in the process making one experience nervousness, anxiety, excessive sweating, and palpitations.
Ashwagandha can help by stimulating the thyroid to selectively increase the T4 hormone levels and reducing oxidative stress or making the body able to cope with the increased oxidation. It can also slow down and regulate the production of active T3 hormone, which is what causes the problems associated with hyperthyroidism. This also lowers the anxiety and brings the heart rate back to normal.
4. Lowers Palpitations Related To High Blood Pressure
In one study, a combination of the aqueous root extract of ashwagandha and aqueous bark extract of arjuna were seen to bring down the systolic blood pressure by 4.37%. The systolic pressure refers to the force that blood exerts on the artery walls when the heart contracts to pump out the blood.6
5. Protects Against Heart Diseases And Related Palpitation
Some palpitations are symptoms of arrhythmia, which could be an indicator of underlying heart conditions including heart attack, heart failure, and heart valve problems. Ashwagandha helps improve heart health by reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
In one study, researchers tested the effect of ashwagandha on
- Patients who had heart attacks caused by the lack of blood supply
- Patients with low blood supply, a condition known as myocardial ischemia
- Patients with reperfusion injury, which is actually tissue damage caused by the restoration of blood supply after a period of low blood supply or oxygen supply
It was found that the herb increased the heart rate, the heart’s capacity to contract and relax, and the body’s ability to inhibit the oxidation of lipids in the cell membranes (lipid peroxidation) that results in cell damage.7 8
Another study on patients with high cholesterol found that administering ashwagandha for 30 days decreased their blood glucose, serum cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.9
Therefore, it is safe to believe that ashwagandha helps maintain proper functioning of the heart, which in turn leads to a decrease in the factors contributing to palpitations.
6. Restores Potassium Balance
Potassium, a common electrolyte in the body, plays an important role in controlling the electrical balance of our heart. Low levels of potassium can lead to irregular heartbeat or other electrical malfunction of the heart.
In a study conducted on rats with gentamicin-induced kidney toxicity, it was confirmed that ashwagandha plays a role in restoring electrolyte levels to normal.10
Gentamicin, an antibiotic, disturbs the balance of electrolytes like serum potassium, sodium, magnesium, and calcium. The roots of ashwagandha, however, contain two active ingredients that contribute to the herb’s biological actions – withaferin A and withanolides – which increase the potassium levels in the body and can help reduce heart palpitations.
Given that ashwagandha reduces cortisol levels and brings down the blood pressure by lowering cholesterol levels, it is one of the best herbs for people with palpitation due to either stress or blood pressure issues. Besides taking 1–2 teaspoons of ashwagandha root or leaf powder twice daily boiled in water or mixed with milk or honey, avoid stimulants like alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine, and even diet pills.
But if your palpitation is accompanied by shortness of breath, severe chest pain, unusual sweating, and dizziness, consult your GP immediately.
|↑1||Weber, Barbara E., and Wishwa N. Kapoor. “Evaluation and outcomes of patients with palpitations.” The American journal of medicine 100, no. 2 (1996): 138-148.|
|↑2||Yalamanchili, Madhuri, Anand Khurana, and Lynn Smaha. “Evaluation of palpitations: etiology and diagnostic methods.” Hospital Physician (2003): 53.|
|↑3||Heart Palpitations. U.S. National Library of Medicine|
|↑4||Chandrasekhar, K., JyotiKapoor, and Sridhar Anishetty. “A prospective, randomised double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of Ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults.” Indian journal of psychological medicine 34, no. 3 (2012): 255|
|↑5||Mehta, A. K., P. Binkley, S. S. Gandhi, and M. K. Ticku. “Pharmacological effects of Withania somnifera root extract on GABAA receptor complex.”The Indian journal of medical research 94 (1991): 312-315.|
|↑6||Sandhu, Jaspal, Biren Shah, Shweta Shenoy, Suresh Chauhan, G. Lavekar, and M. Padhi. “Effects of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) and Terminalia arjuna (Arjuna) on physical performance and cardiorespiratory endurance in healthy young adults.” International journal of Ayurveda research 1, no. 3 (2010): 144.|
|↑7||Mohanty, Ipseeta, Dharamvir Singh Arya, Amit Dinda, Keval Kishan Talwar, Sujata Joshi, and Suresh Kumar Gupta. “Mechanisms of cardioprotective effect of Withania somnifera in experimentally induced myocardial infarction.” Basic & clinical pharmacology & toxicology 94, no. 4 (2004): 184-190.|
|↑8||Mohanty, Ipseeta, Suresh Kumar Gupta, Keval Krishan Talwar, Amit Dinda, Sujata Joshi, Pankaj Bansal, Amit Saxena, and Dharamvir Singh Arya. “Cardioprotection from ischemia and reperfusion injury by Withania somnifera: a hemodynamic, biochemical and histopathological assessment.” Molecular and cellular biochemistry 260, no. 1 (2004): 39-47.|
|↑9||Andallu, B., and B. Radhika. “Hypoglycemic, diuretic and hypocholesterolemic effect of winter cherry (Withania somnifera, Dunal) root.” Indian Journal of Experimental Biology 38, no. 6 (2000): 607-609.|
|↑10||Shimmi, Sadia Choudhury, Nasim Jahan, and Nayma Sultana. “Effects of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract Against Gentamicin Induced Changes of Serum Electrolytes in Rats.” (2012).|