Ashwagandha: Health Benefits, Side Effects & How to Use

Ashwagandha: Health Benefits, Side Effects & How to Use

Ashwagandha is a plant that has been used in traditional Indian medicine for centuries. It’s also known as Indian ginseng, and it’s been used to help with a variety of health conditions.

Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, which means it helps your body adapt to stress. It can help you manage anxiety, depression, and insomnia. It can also help you recover from illness or injury more quickly.

Ashwagandha is a natural way to help your body stay healthy and strong. You can take it as a supplement or use it in cooking.

Learn more about ashwagandha and how you can use it to improve your health!

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is also known by the name of Indian Winter Cherry or Indian Ginseng. It is one of the most notable Ayurvedic herbs, used as a Rasayana due to its vast-ranging health benefits. Rasayana term is often used for a herb that promotes both physical and mental well-being. 

Ashwagandha is also an adaptogen or an anti-stress agent. It has been known to support, strengthen, revitalize and replenish our bodily functions. For ages, ashwagandha has been used as a traditional medicine to manage various health conditions and is regarded as the ‘King of Herbs’. 

The Incredible Health Benefits and Remarkable Uses of Ashwagandha

Health Benefits and Remarkable Uses of Ashwagandha
Source: Canva

Several studies have been administered to analyze the effects of ashwagandha on the human body. Let us review some of its science-based health advantages.

1. Relieve stress and anxiety

As discussed earlier, ashwagandha is a potent stress buster. Clinical trials have shown its ability to reduce stress and anxiety levels by suppressing cortisol stress hormone levels. 1

2. Boost energy levels

If you are constantly low on stamina and even performing daily tasks is a challenge, consider including an ashwagandha supplement. It acts as an energy promoter and improves overall vitality. 2

3. Increase muscle size and strength

Studies suggest that ashwagandha is beneficial for active people involved in intense workout sessions. A study observed that the herb effectively reduced body fat, post-workout muscle damage, and improved muscle strength and overall body composition. 3

4. Diabetic-friendly

People with high blood sugar levels can also use ashwagandha powder as it has been shown to prevent blood fluctuations, increase insulin secretion and improve insulin sensitivity in the body. 4

5. Anti-inflammatory

Ashwagandha is a powerful pain reliever. It possesses anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce joint pain and suppress the levels of inflammatory markers, making it a boon for people with joint pain or rheumatoid arthritis. 5

6. Heart-friendly

Ashwagandha was found to reduce harmful LDL cholesterol levels and improve blood pressure among chronically stressed individuals in a study. Thus it is believed to improve heart health and lower the risk of heart diseases. 6 

7. Improve testosterone levels

Testosterone hormone production among males tend to decline with age. Lower levels of testosterone affect energy levels, fertility and overall reproductive health. Ashwagandha helps balance sexual hormones, improve sperm quality and fertility health. 7

8. Support brain health

Want to improve your memory, focus and attention span? Try including ashwagandha powder in your routine. In addition, the antioxidants present in ashwagandha also protect our nerve cells from the harmful effect of free radicals. 8

Ashwagandha: Potential Risks and Side-Effects 

Ashwagandha: Potential Risks and Side-Effects
Source: Canva

Ashwagandha is mostly tolerable, safe and there are no known significant side effects. Here are some of the potential risks and side-effects of ashwagandha:

1. Interaction with medication

Ashwagandha may interact with certain medications such as sedatives, thyroid hormone, and immunosuppressants. Therefore, it is important to consult a healthcare provider before taking ashwagandha if you are currently taking any medication. 9

2. Thyroid function

Ashwagandha may increase thyroid hormone levels, which can be problematic for people with thyroid disorders such as hyperthyroidism. 10

3. Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Ashwagandha may not be safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding, as there is insufficient research to determine its safety in these groups. 11

4. Gastrointestinal issues

Ashwagandha may cause gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal pain, especially when taken in high doses. 12

5. Allergic reactions

Some people may have an allergic reaction to ashwagandha, which can cause symptoms such as rash, hives, and difficulty breathing. 13

6. Blood sugar levels

Ashwagandha may lower blood sugar levels, which can be dangerous for people with diabetes who are taking medication to lower their blood sugar levels. 14

7. Blood pressure

Ashwagandha may lower blood pressure, which can be beneficial for some people, but may also be problematic for those who have low blood pressure or are taking medication to lower their blood pressure. 15

Discover the optimal way to incorporate the powerful benefits of ashwagandha

the powerful benefits of ashwagandha
Source: Canva

With multiple forms to choose from, such as capsules, powder, gummies, liquid drops or tablets, you have the flexibility to select the one that suits your preference. But, be mindful of the recommended dosage of 500-1000 mg per day, as exceeding it may result in digestive discomfort.

If you’re taking ashwagandha supplements for a specific medical condition, it’s recommended that you seek professional advice from a healthcare provider to determine the appropriate dosage for you. As for consumption, taking ashwagandha is effortless; simply swallow capsules or tablets with water, or mix the powder or liquid form into your favorite beverage. Whether it’s early in the morning, during meals, or at bedtime, ashwagandha can be consumed at any time of the day to meet your wellness goals.

Which is the best ashwagandha brand in India?

best ashwagandha brand in India
Source: Canva

Ashwagandha supplements are widely available in the market. Here are a few best ashwagandha powder and capsules that one can consider.

1. Nutrabay Wellness Ashwagandha Extract

It is one of the best sellers at Nutrabay and provides 1000 mg pure ashwagandha extract per serve. The supplement is vegan-friendly, free from any fillers or additives and is safe for everyone.

Nutrabay Wellness Ashwagandha Extract

2. Foresta Organics Men X Health

This product is made with natural ingredients to promote overall health and wellness. In addition to ashwagandha, it also contains natural extracts of herbs like shilajit, kaunch, safed musli and akarkara. The product is suitable for men to enhance male fertility, suppress stress, boost physical performance and improve testosterone levels.

Foresta Organics Men X Health

3. BigMuscles Nutrition Organic Ashwagandha

If you are looking for an organic ashwagandha, go for this. The presence of black pepper extract makes these ashwagandha tablets unique and aid in enhanced absorption. It is a perfect supplement to cope with stress and reduce the risk of stress-related diseases.

BigMuscles Nutrition Organic Ashwagandha

4. Fast&Up Ashwagandha

It is a natural vitality booster that contains 600mg of ashwagandha and 5% withanolides. Each bottle contains 60 capsules that are USDA Organic certified made from highly bioavailable root extract. The product is formulated with faster nutrient absorption without sugar, gluten, soy and is 100% vegetarian.

Fast&Up Ashwagandha

Wrapping Up

Ashwagandha: Health Benefits, Side Effects & How to Use
Source: Canva

Ashwagandha is a potent herb with a wide range of health benefits, including reducing stress and anxiety, improving brain function, boosting fertility and testosterone levels, and reducing inflammation and cholesterol levels. 

However, it’s important to note that while Ashwagandha is generally considered safe, it can cause side effects in some people, such as upset stomach, diarrhea, and nausea. 

It’s also important to follow recommended dosages and consult with a healthcare professional before taking Ashwagandha, especially if you have a medical condition or are taking medication. When used correctly, Ashwagandha can be a valuable addition to your health and wellness routine.

What is the best way to use ashwagandha?

Most people take ashwagandha as a capsule or powder that can be taken at any time of the day. You may wish to incorporate it into your nightly routine to promote good sleep habits. Alternatively, you may find taking it in the morning suits your routine better.

How should I take ashwagandha for best results?

Studies on ashwagandha have used dosages of 250–600 mg/day of a root extract. The most common dosing protocol is 600 mg/day divided into two doses, with one taken in the morning with breakfast and the other in the evening. Evidence suggests that 600 mg/day is superior to lower doses for improving sleep.

When should I take ashwagandha side effects?

Large doses of ashwagandha might cause stomach upset, diarrhea, and vomiting. Rarely, liver problems might occur. When applied to the skin: There isn’t enough reliable information to know if ashwagandha is safe or what the side effects might be. Pregnancy: It is likely unsafe to use ashwagandha when pregnant.

How should I take ashwagandha for maximum benefit?

Take 1 Ashwagandha capsule or tablet twice a day with milk or warm water after 2 hours of meals along with your existing treatment.

What’s the best time to take Ashwagandha?

the morning

But when is the best time of day to take ashwagandha? To see the best results, most research recommends also taking Ashwagandha in the morning. Taking it twice a day can help your body maintain equilibrium in your adrenal system. You can buy ashwagandha in capsule form or as a powder to mix with coffee or tea.

Can I take Ashwagandha in empty stomach?

Can ashwagandha be taken on an empty stomach? Ashwagandha can be taken on an empty stomach and some people find that it works better that way. It can also be paired with a small snack if you are concerned about digestive discomfort.

References
  1. Chandrasekhar, K., Kapoor, J., & Anishetty, S. (2012). A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian journal of psychological medicine, 34(3), 255–262.[]
  2. Choudhary, D., Bhattacharyya, S., & Bose, S. (2017). Efficacy and safety of ashwagandha (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal) root extract in improving memory and cognitive functions. Journal of dietary supplements, 14(6), 599–612. []
  3. Wankhede, S., Langade, D., Joshi, K., Sinha, S. R., & Bhattacharyya, S. (2015). Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12, 43.[]
  4. Udayakumar, R., Kasthurirengan, S., Mariashibu, T. S., Rajesh, M., & Anbazhagan, V. (2012). Hypoglycaemic and hypolipidaemic effects of Withania somnifera root and leaf extracts on alloxan-induced diabetic rats. International journal of molecular sciences, 13(3), 2361–2372.[]
  5. Sharma, A. K., Basu, I., & Singh, S. (2019). Efficacy and safety of ashwagandha root extract in subclinical hypothyroid patients: A double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.), 25(2), 160–165.[]
  6. Cooley, K., Szczurko, O., Perri, D., Mills, E. J., Bernhardt, B., Zhou, Q., & Seely, D. (2009). Naturopathic care for anxiety: a randomized controlled trial ISRCTN78958974. PloS one, 4(8), e6628.[]
  7. Ahmad, M. K., Mahdi, A. A., Shukla, K. K., Islam, N., Rajender, S., Madhukar, D., Shankhwar, S. N., & Ahmad, S. (2010). Withania somnifera improves semen quality by regulating reproductive hormone levels and oxidative stress in seminal plasma of infertile males. Fertility and sterility, 94(3), 989–996.[]
  8. Choudhary, D., Bhattacharyya, S., & Joshi, K. (2017). Body Weight Management in Adults Under Chronic Stress Through Treatment With Ashwagandha Root Extract: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Journal of evidence-based complementary & alternative medicine, 22(1), 96–106. []
  9. Singh, N., Singh, N., & Singh, S. P. (2011). Effect of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) root powder on sedative-hypnotic activity in mice. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 137(3), 1161-1167. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2011.07.032[]
  10. Sharma, A. K., Basu, I., Singh, S., Efficacy, R. M., & Kumar, R. (2018). Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal (Ashwagandha) attenuates antioxidant defense in aged spinal cord and inhibits copper induced lipid peroxidation and protein oxidative modifications. Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine, 15(4). doi: 10.1515/jcim-2017-0109[]
  11. Modi, M. B., Donga, S. B., Dei, L., & Devanshi, (2012). Safety and effectiveness of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) root extract in improving sexual function in women. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, 3(2), 111-114. doi: 10.4103/0975-9476.97951[]
  12. Kaurav, B. P., Kumar, A., Kumar, S., Singh, S. K., & Kumar, V. (2016). Gastroprotective effect of Withania somnifera Dunal in rats. Journal of Dietary Supplements, 13(4), 414-426. doi: 10.1080/19390211.2015.1124984[]
  13. Mittal, N., Kumar, G., Mittal, R., & Gupta, A. (2017). Anaphylaxis due to Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha). Journal of Investigational Allergology and Clinical Immunology, 27(3), 198-200[]
  14. Mikolai, J., Erlandsen, A., Murison, A., Brown, K. A., & Gregory, W. L. (2009). In vivo effects of ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract on the activation of lymphocytes. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 126(2), 183-190.[]
  15. Cooley, K., Szczurko, O., Perri, D., Mills, E. J., Bernhardt, B., Zhou, Q., … & Seely, D. (2009). Naturopathic care for anxiety: a randomized controlled trial ISRCTN78958974. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, 9(5), 251-260.[]
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