Quality matters: KSM-66 Ashwagandha

Quality matters: KSM-66 Ashwagandha

Living a happy, healthy life has undoubtedly become an important focus for many of us in recent years, particularly since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, putting ways to manage health and wellbeing at the front of our minds. It’s no wonder then, that food supplement use by UK adults was reported to increase by 19% between 2019 and 2021[1], with that number continuing to rise. In particular, the use of adaptogenics – the most widespread being ashwagandha – has risen significantly, as people look for more natural ways to support healthy sleep and stress management. The rise of the health-conscious consumer can only be a positive thing, but with this rise inevitably comes an increase in companies looking to make a quick buck. As a result, the supplement market is now saturated with a plethora of choices, varying in quality, which can be overwhelming! In this article, we’ll be reviewing the use of ashwagandha as an adaptogen and exploring the efficacy of the various types available on the market today, with a specific focus on KSM-66 ashwagandha.

Firstly, what is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha, known as withania somnifera, winter cherry or Indian ginseng, is a powerful and well-studied adaptogen. Adaptogens are specific types of plants and fungi which exhibit stress-reducing effects on the body, allowing it to adapt to stress and return to a state of homeostasis, or balance[2]. With a long history of use in Indian Ayurvedic medicine, all the way up to the present day, ashwagandha has been used to help manage insomnia, bolster the immune system and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Some also believe it helps boost testosterone and slow the physical effects of ageing, though more research is required to demonstrate convincing effects in these areas. There are several active compounds which have been isolated from ashwagandha, around 40 withanolides, 12 alkaloids, and a few sitoindosides, but it appears the withanolides are the most important compounds when it comes to their adaptogenic effects, particularly when it comes to stress and sleep support[3]. As such, when comparing ashwagandha supplements, the content and quality of the withanolides are what matters.

What is KSM-66?

A quick Google will produce thousands of ashwagandha products available to buy. The main differences between them all are the dosages and type of ashwagandha used to produce them; the three most common being Sensoril, Shoden and KSM-66. All are sourced and manufactured in slightly different ways to produce a unique end product, varying in withanolide potency. KSM-66 is produced from full spectrum root extract, retaining all the natural constituents of the herb in the original balance, and contains a standardised concentration of 5% withanolides[4]. While other types of ashwagandha have a higher withanolide content, such high doses may increase the risk of common side effects such as stomach upset, diarrhoea, and vomiting[5]; although rare, live function issues have also been reported with continued use of high dose ashwagandha[6], therefore, starting with a lower dose and increasing if necessary, would be the safest recommendation. Furthermore, higher potency means a higher price point; KSM-66 ashwagandha provides high-quality, active compounds while remaining competitive on price, making it affordable for more people.

Why choose KSM-66 Ashwagandha? Quality matters.

Not all ashwagandha supplements are created equal and when it comes to choosing the best, KSM-66 is the gold standard, boasting the most published studies and human clinical trials of all types, proving its efficacy as a natural, safe, and effective option for improving sleep quality. In a 2021 systematic review and meta-analysis of Ashwagandha’s effectiveness for sleep, a total of five randomised controlled trials containing four hundred participants were analysed. Of those five, four used KSM-66 ashwagandha; after 8 weeks of 600mg daily, supplementation was found to be beneficial for improving sleep quality in adults[7]. These positive effects on sleep have been demonstrated in those with and without insomnia. In a double-blind, randomised placebo-controlled study using KSM-66, four-week supplementation resulted in significantly improved sleep quality and mental alertness in both groups when compared with placebo[8]. While participant numbers are currently limited, the evidence available so far suggests ashwagandha is a useful addition for promoting healthy sleep.

Ashwagandha’s anti-stress effects have also been well researched; in a review of both animal and human trials, ashwagandha supplementation was found to significantly reduce both physiological parameters and subjective feelings of stress[9]. Its anti-anxiety and anti-depressive effects were also noted as promising, though less convincing, with further research warranted for these conditions. Of the fourteen human trials included in the review, six of them used the KSM-66 formulation. A recent systematic review considered the effects of ashwagandha on stress, on nearly five hundred participants across 7 studies – again, the majority of the trials used KSM-66 ashwagandha root extract. Overall, the studies found that ashwagandha significantly reduced subjective stress levels and reduced serum cortisol (a stress hormone) levels[10], demonstrating its ability to act as an adaptogen to improve well-being.

Implementing KSM-66 Ashwagandha for mental wellbeing

As one of the most thoroughly researched forms of ashwagandha currently available on the market, the KSM-66 formulation appears to be both safe and effective for improving sleep quality, and physiological and perceived stress, and may also have positive effects on mental alertness. While form and dosage vary across studies, on average 500 to 600 mg/day seems to be the sweet spot to exhibit these beneficial effects.

As with everything within the world of nutrition, quality is what matters most – so choose wisely. Our Organic Ashwagandha capsules contain 500mg of high-potency ashwagandha with the highest concentration of bioactive compounds on the market today.


[1] HFMA-dev (2022) Health of the Nation Survey 2021: Lockdown focus, Health Food Manufacturers’ Association. Available at: https://hfma.co.uk/health-of-the-nation-survey-2021-lockdown-focus/#:~:text=Graham%20Keen%2C%20Executive%20Director%3B%20%E2%80%9C,so%20definitively%20by%20this%20survey. (Accessed: 16 November 2023).

[2] Liao, L. et al. (2018) ‘A preliminary review of studies on adaptogens: Comparison of their bioactivity in TCM with that of ginseng-like herbs used worldwide’, Chinese Medicine, 13(1). doi:10.1186/s13020-018-0214-9.

[3] Singh, N. et al. (2011) ‘An overview on ashwagandha: A rasayana (rejuvenator) of ayurveda’, African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines, 8(5S). doi:10.4314/ajtcam.v8i5s.9.

[4] KSM66Ashwagandha (2023) What is KSM-66 – KSM-66, KSM-66 Ashwagandha. Available at: https://ksm66ashwagandhaa.com/ksm-66/what-is-ksm-66/ (Accessed: 16 November 2023).

[5] Tandon, N. and Yadav, S.S. (2020) ‘Safety and clinical effectiveness of Withania Somnifera (Linn.) Dunal root in human ailments’, Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 255, p. 112768. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2020.112768.

[6] National Institutes Of Health (2023) Office of dietary supplements – ashwagandha: Is it helpful for stress, anxiety, or sleep?, NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Available at: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Ashwagandha-HealthProfessional/#en7 (Accessed: 16 November 2023).

[7] Cheah, K.L. et al. (2021) ‘Effect of ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract on sleep: A systematic review and meta-analysis’, PLOS ONE, 16(9). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0257843.

[8] Langade, D. et al. (2021) ‘Clinical evaluation of the pharmacological impact of ashwagandha root extract on sleep in healthy volunteers and insomnia patients: A double-blind, randomized, parallel-group, placebo-controlled study’, Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 264, p. 113276. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2020.113276.

[9] Speers, A.B. et al. (2021) ‘Effects of Withania Somnifera (ashwagandha) on stress and the stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders anxiety, depression, and insomnia’, Current Neuropharmacology, 19(9), pp. 1468–1495. doi:10.2174/1570159×19666210712151556.

[10] Lopresti, A.L. and Smith, S.J. (2021) ‘Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) for the treatment and enhancement of mental and physical conditions: A systematic review of human trials’, Journal of Herbal Medicine, 28, p. 100434. doi:10.1016/j.hermed.2021.100434.

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Elisabeth Philipps

Karen Devine

Karen Devine

Shelley Harvey

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adaptogensAdrenal HealthAnxietybotanicalsBrain HealthEnergyImmune SupportKSM66mental healthperimenopausePhytonutrientssleepsleep qualityStress Management

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