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Industry-funded study of the week: Ashwagandha
Happy new year to all.!
And now, back to my Monday postings of industry-funded studies. Today’s is about the popular herbal supplement, ashwagandha. This is typically taken to reduce stress and improve a wide variety of health problems, but little science backs up those contentions. Hence, this study, which I learned about from reading an account of it: Single ashwagandha dose may exert cognitive performance: Study. That headline was all it took to get me to ask my usual question: Who paid for this?
The study: Effects of Acute Ashwagandha Ingestion on Cognitive Function. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(19), 11852; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191911852
Methods: The study assessed performance on the Berg–Wisconsin Card Sorting (BCST), Go/No-Go (GNG), Sternberg Task (STT), and Psychomotor Vigilance Task (PVTT) tests. Participants took a placebo or ashwagandha (ASH) extract (NooGandha®, Specnova Inc., Boca Raton, FL, USA).
Conclusions: Acute supplementation with 400 mg of ashwagandha improved selected measures of executive function, helped sustain attention, and increased short-term/working memory.
Funding: “This study was funded as a fee-for-service project awarded to the Human Clinical Research Facility at Texas A&M University from Specnova, Inc. (Boca Raton, FL, USA)…Specnova was not involved in any way in data collection, analysis of the data, or the writing of the manuscript.”
Comment: Specnova, you will not be surprised to learn, is a supplier of supplement ingredients. The company ordered the study to its specifications. It got the result it wanted, as funders almost invariably do. Despite booming sales of ashwagandha, so little is known about its properties that the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine does not even have a fact sheet for it among its reviews of herbal supplements. Industry-sponsored research to the rescue! And of course it “was not involved in any way…” It didn’t have to be. Funding is usually enough to induce unconscious bias on its own.
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