The present study was aimed to assess the effects of Withania somnifera and Terminalia arjuna singly and in combination Withania somnifera and Terminalia arjuna on physical performance and endurance in healthy young adults after an eight week therapy. Maximum velocity, average power (absolute and relative) and balance were measured as physical performance parameters and maximum oxygen consumption and blood pressure as were measured as endurance parameters. Both, the maximum velocity and average power represent short term aerobic activity whereas VO2 max represents long term aerobic and cardiovascular endurance. Balance is an ability to maintain Centre of Gravity (COG) within the base of support with minimal postural sway. It requires integration of inputs from multiple senses.
Ayurveda is a rich heritage of herbal practices describing medicinal and nutritional uses of more than 600 plants in seventy books. Many plants have ergogenic effects, with no or very less side effects. Ginseng is known as an adaptogen, which means it increases resistance to physical, chemical, and biological stress and builds energy and general vitality.[21
] Withania somnifera
is considered to be the “Indian” ginseng.[22
] We found that Withania somnifera
improved the physical performance and strength parameters in our study after 8 weeks of regular consumption (500mg/day). Singh et al
] have described use of Withania somnifera
in chronic fatigue syndrome. It helps in delaying onset of fatigue and thus increasing the time for exhaustion and maintaining the power for relatively longer period. In our study, the maximum velocity, average absolute and relative power increased by 2.9%, 8.8% and 10.1% respectively following drug administration compared to the placebo group. Arman et al
] reported that Withania somnifera
(improves endurance performance (time to exhaustion) at a moderate intensity of 65% VO2
max, in untrained healthy individuals. In the present study, we found that following 8 weeks of administration of Withania somnifera
maximum oxygen consumption capacity increased by 6.8% at moderate intensity but no significant change was seen in balance and resting blood pressure.
is a cardio protective drug and is used in ayurveda since centuries for its cardiotonic properties. The present study shows that there is significant improvement in average absolute power of lower limbs by 3.6%. Bharani et al
, observed significant improvement in the duration of treadmill exercise in stable angina patients who received Terminalia arjuna
when given 500 mg/day for one week.[24
] In our study, we found an increase in maximum oxygen consumption capacity by 4.9% after treatment. In animal studies, Ghoshal et al
] reported an increased heart rate and force of contraction in cardiac muscles in isolated rats. Shrivastava et al
. found a dose dependant fall in blood pressure in rats when Terminalia arjuna
bark was given in aqueous form, intravenously.[26
] According to Colabawala (1951), the drug is known to have no significant effect on heart rate, blood pressure and cardiac output in healthy volunteers but causes an increase in cardiac output and blood pressure and a decrease in heart rate in patients with a failing heart.[27
] Contradicting this statement, in our study we found that, there is significant decrease in systolic blood pressure by 4.2% when compared with placebo group [group IV] but no significant improvement was seen in diastolic blood pressure in healthy young adult volunteers following 8 weeks of Terminalia arjuna
bark extract consumption.
When Withania somniferaand and Terminalia arjuna were given in combination in group III, all parameters showed significant improvement except balance and diastolic blood pressure. The maximum velocity, average absolute power, average relative power, VO2 max and systolic blood pressure improved by 1.8%, 11.3%, 10.1%, 6.8% and 4.4% respectively in its group when compared with placebo group [group IV].
When results between groups were compared the group which was given both Terminalia arjuna and Withania somnifera (group III) was the most effective in reducing systolic blood pressure (4.37%), which is highest significant reduction in systolic blood pressure between groups followed by group II (4.22%) that consumed only Terminalia arjuna. There is no significant difference were seen for any other parameters Without training or excessive physical exertion, Terminalia arjuna was found to be effective in reducing resting systolic blood pressure in healthy young adults.
The maximum velocity was found to be improved the most in the Withania somnifera treated group followed by the group that received both Withania somnifera and Terminalia arjuna. Average absolute power was found to be improved most in the Withania somnifera and Terminalia arjuna group, followed by Withania somnifera group and Terminalia arjuna group respectively. Withania somnifera and Terminalia arjuna were equally effective in improving relative power of the lower limbs. The maximum oxygen consumption capacity was effectively increased in those subjects, who were given Withania somnifera and Terminalia arjuna in combination followed by those who were given just Terminalia arjuna.
The present study was limited to an 8 week period on healthy young adults. The future research should focus on longer treatment duration, dose finding as well as gender specific effects of the drugs. Further studies are also required to assess whether the drugs can improve other physical parameters and to see the effectiveness in elite sports persons so that in future these drugs can be given as ergogenic elements.
Withania somnifera may therefore be useful for generalized weakness and to improve speed and lower limb muscular strength and neuro-muscular co-ordination. Terminalia arjuna may prove useful to improve cardio-vascular endurance and lowering systolic blood pressure. Both drugs appear to be safe for young adults when given for mentioned dosage and duration.