Ashwagandha has a long history of use for its proposed and proven benefits but it is important to be aware of its possible negative side effects to avoid them from happening.
- Negative side effects from ashwagandha supplementation are rare and usually mild
- Ashwagandha has historical importance of use and recent research is proving its effectiveness
- Choose ashwagandha supplements that are third-party tested and from reputable companies
- Always check with your doctor to see if its right for you
What is ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is an herb native to India and North America that has been used in traditional Indian medicine for centuries. It is sometimes called “Indian ginseng” because of its similarity to the Chinese herb ginseng. Ashwagandha is a member of the nightshade family, which includes tomatoes and potatoes.
The roots and leaves of the ashwagandha plant are typically dried and powdered before being used as a natural remedy for a variety of ailments. Ashwagandha is commonly available in the form of supplements, powder, and tea. The herb can also be applied to the skin in the form of a cream or ointment.
Ashwagandha is a popular herbal choice thought to treat a variety of conditions like anxiety, depression, and arthritis. The herb is also said to improve cognitive function, energy levels, and stamina. Some research suggests that ashwagandha may help to boost the immune system and protect against some forms of cancer.
Is ashwagandha safe for consumption?
Current research suggests that ashwagandha is generally safe for consumption by most people at appropriate doses. Negative side effects are usually rare with mild symptoms and are often associated with supplements that are not third-party tested, contain other ingredients, and have higher recommended dosages. It’s important to speak with a healthcare provider before taking it to ensure that it’s the right choice for you.
Potential negative side effects of ashwagandha
Ashwagandha comes with some risks and side effects that should be considered before taking it. The most commonly reported side effect is gastrointestinal upset at high doses. Ashwagandha can interact with other medications and cause upset stomach, diarrhea, and vomiting. If you experience any of these side effects, discontinue use immediately and consult your doctor.
Who should avoid taking ashwagandha
Although ashwagandha is generally safe for most people, there are a few groups who may be at a higher risk of negative side effects and should definitely consult their doctor prior to use. These concerns are for those who:
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Have autoimmune diseases
- Are taking other medications or herbal supplements
- Take medications to control their blood pressure
- Have thyroid problems
Research suggests taking extra precautions if these conditions apply to you.
How to reduce your risk of negative side effects from ashwagandha
There are a few things you can do to reduce the risk of experiencing any negative side effects. If you are taking ashwagandha for the first time, it is best to start at the lower end of the dose range and gradually increase as tolerated. Ashwagandha is typically taken in capsule form and recommended dosages can range anywhere between 300-500 mg per day. It is important to note that there is a lot of variation in the recommended dose and it can vary depending on your age, sex, weight, sensitivity, and the problem you are addressing.
Be sure to purchase the herb from a reputable source that third-party tests their products, and follow the recommended dosage. Third-party testing can verify the identity of the ingredients in a supplement, as well as check for contaminants that may be present since supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
These tests are conducted by U.S.-accredited independent organizations that have no affiliation with the supplement manufacturer and should be available on the product’s label or website. Third-party testing can give you peace of mind that the supplement you’re taking is of high quality and is unlikely to cause any adverse effects.
How to store and use ashwagandha properly
The best way to store the herb is in a dark, airtight container in a cool, dry place. When ready to use, the powder can be added to water and consumed as a beverage. Ashwagandha can also be taken in capsule form. For best results, follow the recommended dosage consistently for at least four weeks.
Ashwagandha can be a safe and effective herbal remedy for many people, but it’s important to speak with a healthcare provider before taking it to ensure that it’s the right choice for you. Be sure to purchase only third-party tested products and follow the recommended dosage to reduce your risk of negative side effects from ashwagandha supplementation.
Sources of information
- “Adaptogenic and Anxiolytic Effects of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Healthy Adults: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Study.” https://www.cureus.com/articles/25730
- “Effect of standardized aqueous extract of Withania somnifera on tests of cognitive and psychomotor performance in healthy human participants.” https://europepmc.org/article/PMC/3897003
- “An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda.” https://doi.org/10.4314/ajtcam.v8i5S.9
- “A Prospective, Randomized Double-Blind, PlaceboControlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of a HighConcentration Full-Spectrum Extract of Ashwagandha Root in Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Adults.” https://doi.org/10.4103/0253-7176.106022
- “Exploratory study to evaluate tolerability, safety, and activity of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in healthy volunteers.” https://doi.org/10.4103/0975-9476.100168
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Rachel Badtke, RDN, CPT is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) through the American Council on Exercise (ACE). She specializes in holistic wellness and whole food plant-focused nutrition. Rachel holds a Bachelor’s degree in Dietetics and an ACE-approved certificate of completion in Advanced Sports Nutrition.