Posted by Alyssa Humphrey, Director, R&D on Nov 2, 2020 11:27:52 AM
Loaded with essential vitamins, the perennial flowering plant, asparagus, takes three years to grow from seed to harvest.
The average adult consumes about 1.7 pounds of asparagus every year.  So, there's a good chance that you've seen plates laden with these tasty, slender spears. While asparagus is typically considered just another side dish, research has shown that asparagus extract may be the key to solving a problem that affects nearly 70 million Americans: poor sleep. 
In today's article, we'll discuss what asparagus extract is and how it may help people to get restorative rest their bodies desperately need.*
Asparagus extract is made by taking different parts of the plant and separating out beneficial compounds like phytochemicals, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals. Asparagus extract is made through an extraction procedure involving phytochemical screening and placing raw plant materials such as asparagus spears, roots, and rhizomes into extraction solvents. The concentrated extract that remains after filtration is turned into a powder, liquid, or paste.
In Ayurvedic medicine, Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) was known as the "Queen of herbs" because of its perceived ability to promote reproductive health, cognitive health, immune function, and more.*  Modern research has shown that some of these ancient uses may have scientific backing.
A few traditional benefits with clinical validation are:
In addition to the impressive health benefits listed above, research links asparagus extract to several benefits that promote sleep.* Below, we'll explore the top three ways asparagus extract has been shown to encourage a better, more restful night's sleep.*
Stress is the enemy to sleep. Stress can even put you at risk for severe sleep challenges.  The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is a network within the body that produces sleep and stress hormones called glucocorticoids, including cortisol and adrenaline. Stress activates the HPA axis, and when cortisol and adrenaline levels are high, you are more alert. When the HPA axis is functioning normally, cortisol and adrenaline levels are lowest during the night and highest during the day.  Sleep problems may occur anytime these stress hormones rise and remain elevated during sleeping hours.
Studies have shown that asparagus extract may help balance and maintain the cortisol levels to normal ranges, leading to improved sleep quality.*   In one randomized, double-blind study, participants were given 150 mg of Enzyme-Treated Asparagus Extract (ETAS) per day for 28 days. Volunteers who received the ETAS reported that they felt less tired at the end of the study and woke up easier.* 
Heat shock proteins are produced by cells in response to certain types of physical stress. Some common causes of these proteins include exposure to heat, cold, or even UV light.  Heat shock proteins have been shown to have protective benefits for the heart, brain, and immune system.  
Studies link asparagus extract to an increased level of heat shock protein production.*  By increasing your heat shock proteins, you may be supporting improved sleep from a molecular standpoint. Heat shock proteins send signals back to the hypothalamus and pituitary gland to reduce cortisol production, promoting restfulness.* 
Rapid eye movement (REM) cycles are an essential part of a good night's rest. REM sleep cycles help stimulate the brain and play a crucial role in your brain's ability to learn and recall memories.  Non-REM (NREM) sleep also plays a vital role because it allows your body to repair tissue, muscles, and bones. 
Asparagus extract may help normalize both REM and NREM sleep by signaling melatonin receptors MT1, and MT2.* Activation of MT1 receptors help regulate REM sleep, and activation of MT2 receptors increases NREM sleep.
While many other options are available, such as melatonin or valerian root, very few nutritional supplements offer the multi-faceted benefits that asparagus extract provides. Asparagus extract could help encourage better sleep on a cellular level from its role in reducing sleep-disrupting hormones to increasing heat shock proteins that promote better restfulness.* Likewise, asparagus extract may improve your sleep quality by assisting in both REM and NREM sleep cycles.*
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