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How Asparagus Extract May Support Better Sleep

Posted by Alyssa Humphrey, Director, R&D on Nov 2, 2020 11:27:52 AM

asparagus extract and sleep

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. [1] 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. [2]

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.*

What is Asparagus Extract?

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.

Read our white paper on how nutrition impacts your sleep.

Health Benefits of Asparagus Extract*

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.* [3] Modern research has shown that some of these ancient uses may have scientific backing.

A few traditional benefits with clinical validation are:

  • Gastro-intestinal support* [4]
  • Free-radical fighting activity* [6]
  • Healthy inflammatory support* [7]
  • Low-mood support* [8]
  • Cognitive support* [9]

RELATED CONTENT: BIDIRECTIONAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SLEEP AND STRESS

The Connection Between Asparagus Extract & Sleep

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.*

1. ETAS May Help Regulate Sleep-Disrupting Hormones Like Cortisol*

Stress is the enemy to sleep. Stress can even put you at risk for severe sleep challenges. [10] 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. [11] 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.* [12] [13] 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.* [14]

2. Asparagus Extract May Encourage the Production of Sleep-Promoting Heat Shock Proteins*

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. [15] Heat shock proteins have been shown to have protective benefits for the heart, brain, and immune system. [16] [17]

Studies link asparagus extract to an increased level of heat shock protein production.* [18] 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.* [19]

3. May Support Normal REM & NREM Sleep Cycles*

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. [20] Non-REM (NREM) sleep also plays a vital role because it allows your body to repair tissue, muscles, and bones. [21]

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.[22]

 

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.*

Sleep Support


REFERENCES:

1. Shahbandeh, M. "U.S. Fresh Vegetables Consumption per Capita by Type, 2019." Statista, 28 Apr. 2020, www.statista.com/statistics/257345/per-capita-consumption-of-fresh-vegetables-in-the-us-by-type/.

2. "The State of SleepHealth in America." SleepHealth, www.sleephealth.org/sleep-health/the-state-of-sleephealth-in-america/.

3. Alok, Shashi, et al. "Plant Profile, Phytochemistry and Pharmacology of Asparagus Racemosus (Shatavari): A Review." Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Disease, vol. 3, no. 3, 2013, pp. 242–251., doi:10.1016/s2222-1808(13)60049-3.

4. Bhatnagar M, Sisodia SS. Antisecretory and antiulcer activity of Asparagus racemosus Willd. against indomethacin plus phyloric ligation-induced gastric ulcer in rats. J Herb Pharmacother. 2006;6(1):13-20. PMID: 17135157.

5. Mandal SC, Nandy A, Pal M, Saha BP. Evaluation of antibacterial activity of Asparagus racemosus willd. root. Phytother Res. 2000 Mar;14(2):118-9. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1099-1573(200003)14:2<118::aid-ptr493>3.0.co;2-p. PMID: 10685109.

6. Parihar MS, Hemnani T. Experimental excitotoxicity provokes oxidative damage in mice brain and attenuation by extract of Asparagus racemosus. J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2004 Jan;111(1):1-12. doi: 10.1007/s00702-003-0069-8. Epub 2003 Dec 3. PMID: 14714211.

7. Lee DY, Choo BK, Yoon T, Cheon MS, Lee HW, Lee AY, Kim HK. Anti-inflammatory effects of Asparagus cochinchinensis extract in acute and chronic cutaneous inflammation. J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Jan 12;121(1):28-34. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2008.07.006. Epub 2008 Jul 18. PMID: 18691647.

8. Singh GK, Garabadu D, Muruganandam AV, Joshi VK, Krishnamurthy S. Antidepressant activity of Asparagus racemosus in rodent models. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2009 Jan;91(3):283-90. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2008.07.010. Epub 2008 Jul 20. PMID: 18692086.

9. Ojha R, Sahu AN, Muruganandam AV, Singh GK, Krishnamurthy S. Asparagus recemosus enhances memory and protects against amnesia in rodent models. Brain Cogn. 2010 Oct;74(1):1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2010.05.009. Epub 2010 Jul 1. PMID: 20594636.

10. "Insomnia." Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 15 Oct. 2016, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355167.

11. Chrousos G, Vgontzas AN, Kritikou I. HPA Axis and Sleep. [Updated 2016 Jan 18]. In: Feingold KR, Anawalt B, Boyce A, et al., editors. Endotext [Internet]. South Dartmouth (MA): MDText.com, Inc.; 2000-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279071/

12. Cheng, L., Pan, G. F., Sun, X. B., Huang, Y. X., Peng, Y. S., & Zhou, L. Y. (2013). Evaluation of anxiolytic-like effect of aqueous extract of asparagus stem in mice. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2013, 587260. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/587260

13. Ito, Tomohiro, et al. "Effects of Enzyme-Treated Asparagus Extract on Heat Shock Protein 70, Stress Indices, and Sleep in Healthy Adult Men." Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, vol. 60, no. 4, 2014, pp. 283–290., doi:10.3177/jnsv.60.283.

14. Takanari, Jun, et al. "Effect of Enzyme-Treated Asparagus Extract (ETAS) on Psychological Stress in Healthy Individuals." Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, vol. 62, no. 3, 2016, pp. 198–205., doi:10.3177/jnsv.62.198.

15. Cao, Y., Ohwatari, N., Matsumoto, T. et al. TGF-β1 mediates 70-kDa heat shock protein induction due to ultraviolet irradiation in human skin fibroblasts. Pflügers Arch 438, 239–244 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1007/s004240050905

16. Ranek, M. J., Stachowski, M. J., Kirk, J. A., & Willis, M. S. (2018). The role of heat shock proteins and co-chaperones in heart failure. Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 373(1738), 20160530. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2016.0530

17. Dukay, B., Csoboz, B., & Tóth, M. E. (2019). Heat-Shock Proteins in Neuroinflammation. Frontiers in pharmacology, 10, 920. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2019.00920

18. Ito T, Maeda T, Goto K, Miura T, Wakame K, Nishioka H, Sato A. Enzyme-treated asparagus extract promotes expression of heat shock protein and exerts antistress effects. J Food Sci. 2014 Mar;79(3):H413-9. doi: 10.1111/1750-3841.12371. Epub 2014 Feb 5. PMID: 24498968.

19. Ravikumar, S., Muthuraman, P. Cortisol Effect on Heat Shock Proteins in the C2C12 and 3T3-L1 Cells. In Vitro Cell.Dev.Biol.-Animal 50, 581–586 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11626-014-9774-x

20. Rasch, B., & Born, J. (2013). About sleep's role in memory. Physiological reviews, 93(2), 681–766. https://doi.org/10.1152/physrev.00032.2012

21. Brinkman JE, Reddy V, Sharma S. Physiology, Sleep. [Updated 2020 Apr 29]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482512/

22. Gobbi, Gabriella, and Stefano Comai. "Sleep Well. Untangling the Role of Melatonin MT1 and MT2 Receptors in Sleep." Journal of Pineal Research, vol. 66, no. 3, 2019, doi:10.1111/jpi.12544.

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