HomeHealth articlesashwagandhaAshwagandha - Benefits | Side-Effects | Safety Concerns | Interactions

Ashwagandha, also called Indian ginseng or winter cherry, has been found to have many health benefits. Read the article to know more.

Written by

Dr. Divya Banu M

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Alka

Published At July 22, 2019
Reviewed AtOctober 5, 2022

What Is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is a popular plant used extensively in the traditional systems of medicine to manage or treat various problems. It is used as an adaptogen because it helps in managing stress. Ashwagandha is a Sanskrit word meaning the smell of the horse that ultimately points toward its unique smell and the ability to increase its strength as a stallion. Its botanical name is Withania somnifera. It has many other names, out of which the common ones are Indian ginseng and Winter cherry.

Ashwagandha is a small plant containing yellow flowers and is native to India and North Africa. It has high concentrations of withanolides that can fight against inflammation and tumor growth. Its root and berry are mainly used to make Ayurvedic preparations. Though it is used to manage several problems in traditional systems of medicine, its scientific efficacy is not yet proven in humans. However, many clinical trials have proved its role in various problems.

What Are the Benefits of Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is one of the oldest herbs having medicinal properties. It is used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine. Its use has been known for more than 3,000 years in relieving stress, increasing energy, and improving concentration.

  1. Reduction of Blood Sugar Levels - Some studies have shown that it can reduce blood sugar levels. It acts by showing its effects on the secretion of insulin and insulin sensitivity.

  2. Anti-Cancer Properties - It has been shown in some clinical trials that it helps stop the growth of new cancer cells in many ways. It is believed that ashwagandha generates reactive oxygen species that are toxic to the cancer cells but do not affect the normal cells. Secondly, it can also make cancer cells less resistant to apoptosis.

  3. Reduces Cortisol Levels - Cortisol is called the stress hormone as the adrenal glands release it in situations of stress and also when the blood sugar levels become low. But, in some cases, cortisol levels may become raised for long durations, and in such conditions or problems, Ashwagandha can be helpful to play an effective role in reducing it.

  4. Reduce Stress and Anxiety Levels - It is seen in animal and human studies that ashwagandha can reduce stress and anxiety.

  5. Reduce the Symptoms of Depression - Though there are not enough studies to prove it, it is suggested that it can reduce depression.

  6. Increases Fertility in Men - Ashwagandha supplements are believed to have positive and powerful effects on testosterone levels and men's reproductive health by increasing sperm quality and, thus, improving fertility in men.

  7. Increases Muscle Mass and Strength - Studies show that ashwagandha can increase muscle mass and strength and reduce body fat.

  8. Reduction of Inflammation - Some clinical studies showed that it increases the natural killer cell activity and decreases inflammatory markers.

  9. Lowers Cholesterol and Triglycerides - Ashwagandha is known to reduce the risk of heart diseases by decreasing cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

  10. Improves Brain Function and Memory - Studies show that ashwagandha supplements can improve the brain's functioning, memory, reaction timings, and ability to perform various tasks.

  11. Its Safety and Availability - Since it is herbal medicine, it is safe and easily available. But, it is advisable to consult the physician before consuming it as some people can show negative effects too.

  12. Treatment of Arthritis - Ashwagandha may act as a pain reliever and have anti-inflammatory properties. It prevents pain signals from traveling along the central nervous system. People with joint pains have found this herb a potential treatment option for rheumatoid arthritis.

  13. Treatment of Alzheimer's Disease - Studies show that Ashwagandha can slow down or prevent the loss of brain functioning in patients with Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease, and Parkinson's disease. However, only a limited number of clinical trials have been done, and more elaborate studies are still required. So always take it after consulting the Ayurveda physician.

What Are the Side-Effects of Ashwagandha?

It is seen that ashwagandha is tolerated well in minimum to moderate doses. Since there are not enough studies to show the side effects, it is safer to avoid taking it during pregnancy as it may cause early delivery. So it is always advisable to consult the physician before consuming it and explain the complete medical history to the doctor.

How to Consume Ashwagandha?

The dosage and the form of taking it depends on the condition aimed to be treated. There is no standard dose put forward by any modern clinical trials. It can vary from one person to another. Some studies suggest taking 250 to 600 milligrams per day can reduce stress. Sometimes, taking high doses can cause unpleasant side effects. It is available in powder form, liquid extract, and capsule form. Capsule dosages usually contain between 250 to 1500 milligrams of Ashwagandha. The physician can advise after the clinical examination on how much amount of Ashwagandha the person needs to take.

When to Avoid Taking Ashwagandha?

It is mostly safe if taken via the mouth in the short term. Long-term safety is not known. Also, the safety of its topical application is not known. Large doses might cause nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, and diarrhea. As mentioned earlier, it is better not to take it during pregnancy, breastfeeding, diabetes, high or low blood pressure, ulcers in the stomach, or any autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, SLE (systemic lupus erythematosus), etc., before going for any surgery, thyroid disorders, etc. Pregnant women should avoid it because it can cause premature labor and distress to the fetus. Kindly consult the physician before consuming it. It is likely for herbs to contain contaminants such as heavy metals, or they may not contain the actual herb at all. People should make sure they do some research on the manufacturer before buying any product.

Can Ashwagandha Interact with Medications?

Ashwagandha can interact with diabetes, blood pressure, and immunosuppressant medications. Hence, be cautious if taking these medications and want to take Ashwagandha also. It is mandatory to get consent from the doctor before taking it.


Modern times are full of stress triggers, which calls for relaxing methods and remedies. Ashwagandha is an option for those who prefer herbal medicines. Ashwagandha has many beneficial effects but also has some precautions and side effects. Hence, getting complete details about it and obtaining the doctor's consent is important before consuming it, and this can be done with the help of medical platforms at the ease of the home.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Does Ashwagandha Do for Your Body?

Ashwagandha is known to increase immunity levels in individuals. It is known to relieve stress and anxiety levels. It can help in the proper and effective functioning of the brain. It helps in reducing joint pain in older people. It is also known to increase the rate of fertility.


Is It Safe to Take Ashwagandha Every Day?

Ashwagandha is known to be a safe medicinal herb for many people. However, the consumption should be restricted in females when they are pregnant or breastfeeding. It is better to consult your ayurvedic doctor before consuming Ashwagandha.


What Are the Side Effects of Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is an excellent medicinal component for stress and anxiety. It should be taken in a short term dosage as recommended by your doctor. If you are consuming it in irregular dosages, you might experience side effects like headaches, drowsiness, and stomach upset.


When Should You Take Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha has to be taken for 30 days. The dosage is started at 250mg for the first ten days, and it is increased in the evening dosage up to 500mg. After ten days, the dosage is equally maintained as 500mg both in the morning and evening.


How Quickly Does Ashwagandha Work?

Ashwagandha is known to work effectively when it is consumed by a person who has a healthy lifestyle. Taking large quantities of Ashwagandha will not be beneficial. The effectiveness of Ashwagandha varies on the extract from which it is obtained. A full-spectrum extract is essential for obtaining the great benefits of Ashwagandha.


Who Should Not Use Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha should not be taken in the following category of people. They are:
- Pregnant women.
- Breastfeeding mothers.
- Patients with an auto-immune disorder.
- Diabetic patients.
- Patients with hyperthyroidism.
- Patients who are under sedative medications.
- Hypertensive patients.


Can You Take Ashwagandha Before Bed?

Ashwagandha is beneficial for patients with insomnia and anxiety. It is known to provide quality sleep in patients. It can be taken before bed. The recommended dosage for Ashwagandha is 300 mg. This dosage has to be taken twice by the patient. It is good to consult your doctor before going for it.


Can I Take Ashwagandha in the Early Morning?

Ashwagandha can be taken in the early morning on an empty stomach. If you are worried about any discomfort, then you can take it with a small salad meal. You should follow the method which works for you as it might vary from one person to another.


Does Ashwagandha Increase Estrogen?

Ashwagandha is known to regulate the hormones at the proper level. It has a positive influence on hormones. After the consumption of Ashwagandha, the estrogen levels will be elevated. It will help in the regulation of the menstrual cycle in females.


Is It Better to Take Ashwagandha at Night?

There is no proper time to take Ashwagandha. You can change the time you take it depending on the purpose. Ashwagandha is known to be helpful for patients who are suffering from insomnia and anxiety. If insomnia patients have Ashwagandha at night, it will be very useful to achieve quality sleep.


Can You Take Ashwagandha in Large Quantities?

The medicinal herb Ashwagandha has to be taken in quantities depending on the needs of the patients. The quality of Ashwagandha is more important than the quantity. The dosage might vary between 250 mg to 500 mg.


Does Ashwagandha Make You Drowsy?

Yes, if Ashwagandha is known to be consumed in unpredictable doses for a prolonged period of time, it might cause headaches and drowsiness. A large dose of Ashwagandha is known to cause liver problems also. It can cause diarrhea and vomiting in some people.


Can Ashwagandha Disrupt Sleep?

Ashwagandha will not cause a disruption in the sleep. It can help you sleep better. Many reports have shown evidence that Ashwagandha is helping people with insomnia episodes and anxiety episodes. If you are facing any sleep disturbances after consuming Ashwagandha, then you should stop taking it. You need to consult your doctor as soon as possible.


Does Ashwagandha Help You to Relax?

Yes, Ashwagandha is known to be the right choice for stress and depression. It can also relieve anxiety episodes. It also provides a comfortable sleep and a relaxed feeling.


Can Ashwagandha Cause Hair Loss?

Ashwagandha is known to improve the circulation of blood in the scalp region. It is also known to reverse the process of hair greying. It can be beneficial for getting rid of dandruff. The hair will be strengthened, and there will be an increase in melanin pigmentation. It will make the hair look darker. In some patients, taking Ashwagandha is known to increase the functioning of the thyroid hormone. This can sometimes result in hair loss.


Is Ashwagandha Safe for Kidneys?

Ashwagandha is not considered to be safe for patients who are having liver and kidney problems. If Ashwagandha is taken for a prolonged period of time, it can negatively influence the kidneys. If you have any medical conditions, it is better to consult your doctor before taking these medicines.


When Should I Stop Taking Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is not suitable for all patients. If a person has any problems with the liver, kidney, blood, or any related dysfunction of the organs, it is not advisable to go for Ashwagandha. If you have already started consuming Ashwagandha without being aware of your illness, it is necessary to stop taking it. If you are consuming Ashwagandha on a regular basis, and you are in need of a surgical procedure for your health, the anesthetics would not be suitable for you. It is necessary to stop taking Ashwagandha in such situations.


Will Ashwagandha Increase Immunity?

Yes, Ashwagandha is known to increase immunity. Many medical reports serve as proof for immune power given by Ashwagandha. But, if you already have an auto-immune disorder, then you should avoid taking it.


Will Ashwagandha Increase Testosterone in Females?

Ashwagandha can increase the level of testosterone in both males and females. The medical component of Ashwagandha serves as a medicinal herb for the woman. It also aids in increasing fertility in the woman.


Is Ashwagandha Good for Thyroid?

Ashwagandha is good for patients having hypothyroidism. It will alleviate the levels of thyroid hormones. However, if it is consumed by patients having hyperthyroidism, then it can have negative effects. You should consult your doctor if your thyroid levels are not normal.


Does Ashwagandha Cause Gas?

Ashwagandha is known to cause some side-effects related to the stomach. It causes stomach upset in some patients. There is no proper evidence to say that Ashwagandha causes gas formation. You should consult your ayurvedic doctor before taking Ashwagandha.
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Dr. Alka
Dr. Alka

Ayurveda Specialist

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