Alternative Medicine Data Verified

Ashwagandha

Written by
Dr. Divya Banu M
and medically reviewed by Dr. Alka

Published on Jul 22, 2019   -  4 min read

Abstract

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

Contents
Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is a popular plant used extensively in traditional system 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 your 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.

It 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 growth of a tumor. Its root and berry are mainly used to make the Ayurvedic preparations. Though it is used to manage a number of problems in traditional system 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 It?

1. It is one of the oldest herbs having medicinal properties.

It is used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine. Its use is known for more than 3,000 years in relieving stress, increasing energy and improving concentration.

2. 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.

3. Anti-cancer properties.

It has been shown in some clinical trials that it helps in stopping 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 be known to cause cancer cells to become less resistant to the apoptosis process.

4. Reduces cortisol levels.

As we all know, 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.

5. Can help to reduce stress and anxiety levels.

It is seen in both animal and human studies that ashwagandha can reduce both stress and anxiety.

6. It can be used to reduce the symptoms of depression.

Though there are not enough studies to prove it, it is suggested that it can reduce depression.

7. It can increase fertility in men.

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

8. Increases muscle mass and strength.

Studies show that ashwagandha can increase muscle mass and strength and reduces body fat.

9. Reduction of inflammation.

Some clinical studies showed that it increases the natural killer cell activity and also decreases the markers of inflammation.

10. Lowering cholesterol and triglycerides.

Ashwagandha is known to reduce the risk of heart diseases by decreasing the cholesterol quantity and also, triglyceride levels.

11. Improving brain function and memory.

Studies show that ashwagandha supplements can improve the functioning of the brain, memory, your reaction timings and also, your ability to perform various tasks.

12. Its safety and availability.

Since it is herbal medicine, it is safe and also, easily available. But, it is advisable to consult your physician before consuming it as some people can show negative effects too.

13. Arthritis.

Some studies showed 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 your Ayurveda physician.

14. 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.

What Are the Side-Effects of It?

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 your physician before consuming it and explain your complete medical history to your doctor.

How Is It Consumed?

The dosage, as well as the form of taking it, depends on the condition you aim to treat. There is no standard dose put forward by any modern clinical trials. It can vary from one person to another.

It is available in powder form, liquid extract, and capsule form. Your physician can advise you after your clinical examination how much dose you need to take.

Some Safety Concerns

It is mostly safe if taken via the mouth in the short-term. Long-term safety is not known. Also, the safety with 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, etc., before going for any surgery, thyroid disorders, etc. Kindly consult your physician before consuming it.

Interactions with Medications

Ashwagandha can interact with diabetic, pressure, immunosuppressant medications. Hence, be precautious if you are taking these medications and want to take Ashwagandha also. It is mandatory to get consent from your doctor before taking it.

As we know that Ashwagandha has many beneficial effects but also has some precautions and side-effects. Hence, getting complete details about it and obtaining your doctor's consent is important before consuming it and this can be done with the help of medical platforms at the ease of your home.

Frequently Asked Questions


1.

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.

2.

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.

3.

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.

4.

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.

5.

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.

6.

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.

7.

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.

8.

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.

9.

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.

10.

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.

11.

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.

12.

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.

13.

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.

14.

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.

15.

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.

16.

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.

17.

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.

18.

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.

19.

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.

20.

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.

21.

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.

Last reviewed at:
22 Jul 2019  -  4 min read


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Query: Hello doctor, I am scheduled for sinus surgery day after tomorrow. I have been given a list of medications which should not be taken and I have followed that. However, I have been taking ashwagandha (herb supplement 470 mg once a day) to help with anxiety. I read online that this may interfere with ...  Read Full »

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