Uses of Ashvagandha
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate. The effectiveness ratings for Ashvagandha are as follows:
Possibly effective for…
- Stress. Some research shows that taking a specific Ashvagandha root extract (KSM66, Ixoreal Biomed) 300 mg twice daily after food or another specific extract (Shoden, Arjuna Natural Ltd.) 240 mg daily for 60 days appears to improve symptoms of stress.
Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for…
- Aging. Early research shows that taking Ashvagandha root extract helps to improve well-being, sleep quality, and mental alertness by small to moderate amounts in people aged 65-80 years.
- Metabolic side effects caused by antipsychotic drugs. Antipsychotics are used to treat schizophrenia but they can cause levels of fat and sugar in the blood to increase. Taking a specific Ashvagandha extract (Cap Strelaxin, M/s Pharmanza Herbal Pvt. Ltd.) 400 mg three times daily for one month might reduce levels of fat and sugar in the blood in people using these medications.
- Anxiety. Some early research shows that taking Ashvagandha can reduce some symptoms of anxious mood.
- Athletic performance. Some research shows that taking Ashvagandha helps with how much oxygen the body can use during exercise. But it isn’t known if this helps to improve performance.
- Bipolar disorder. Taking a specific Ashvagandha extract (Sensoril, Natreon, Inc.) for 8 weeks might improve brain function in people being treated for bipolar disorder.
- Tiredness in people treated with cancer drugs. Early research suggests taking a specific Ashvagandha extract 2000 mg (Himalaya Drug Co, New Delhi, India) during chemotherapy treatment might reduce feelings of tiredness.
- Diabetes. There is some evidence that Ashvagandha might reduce blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
- A type of persistent anxiety marked by exaggerated worry and tension (generalized anxiety disorder or GAD). Some early clinical research shows that taking Ashvagandha can reduce some symptoms of anxiety.
- High cholesterol. There is some evidence that Ashvagandha might reduce cholesterol levels in patients with high cholesterol.
- Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). People with underactive thyroid have high blood levels of a hormone called thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). People with an underactive thyroid can also have low levels of thyroid hormone. Taking Ashvagandha seems to lower TSH and increase thyroid hormone levels in people with a mild form of underactive thyroid.
- Conditions in a man that prevent him from getting a woman pregnant within a year of trying to conceive (male infertility). Some preliminary clinical evidence suggests that Ashvagandha might improve sperm quality, but not sperm count, in infertile men. It is not known if taking Ashvagandha can actually improve fertility.
- A type of anxiety marked by recurrent thoughts and repetitive behaviors (obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD). Early research shows that Ashvagandha root extract might reduce symptoms of OCD when taken with prescribed medications for 6 weeks.
- Sexual problems that prevent satisfaction during sexual activity. Early research shows that taking Ashvagandha extract daily for 8 weeks along with receiving counseling increases interest in sex and sexual satisfaction in adult women with sexual dysfunction better than counseling alone.
- Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- Brain damage that affects muscle movement (cerebellar ataxia).
- Parkinson disease.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
- Altering immune system function.
- Inducing vomiting.
- Liver problems.
- Swelling (inflammation).
- Ulcerations, when applied to the skin.
- Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of Ashvagandha for these uses.
Side Effects of Ashvagandha
- When taken by mouth: It is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken for up to 3 months. The long-term safety of Ashvagandha is not known. Large doses of Ashvagandha 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 it is safe or what the side effects might be.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
- Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It is LIKELY UNSAFE to use Ashvagandha when pregnant. There is some evidence that Ashvagandha might cause miscarriages. There isn’t enough reliable information to know if it is safe to use when breastfeeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
- Diabetes: Ashvagandha might lower blood sugar levels. This could interfere with medications used for diabetes and cause blood sugar levels to go too low. If you have diabetes, monitor your blood sugar closely.
- High or low blood pressure: Ashvagandha might decrease blood pressure. This could cause blood pressure to go too low in people with low blood pressure, or interfere with medications used to treat high blood pressure. Ashvagandha should be used cautiously if you have low blood pressure or take medications for your blood pressure.
- Stomach ulcers: Ashvagandha can irritate the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Don’t use Ashvagandha if you have a stomach ulcer.
- “Auto-immune diseases” such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other conditions: Ashvagandha might cause the immune system to become more active, and this could increase the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. If you have one of these conditions, it’s best to avoid using Ashvagandha.
- Surgery: Ashvagandha may slow down the central nervous system. Healthcare providers worry that anesthesia and other medications during and after surgery might increase this effect. Stop taking Ashvagandha at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
- Thyroid disorders: Ashvagandha might increase thyroid hormone levels. Ashvagandha should be used cautiously or avoided if you have a thyroid condition or take thyroid hormone medications.
Warnings & Precautions
- Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)
Ashvagandha might decrease blood sugar levels. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking Ashvagandha along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.
Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, metformin (Glucophage), pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.
- Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs)
Ashvagandha might lower blood pressure. Taking it with medications used to treat high blood pressure might cause blood pressure levels to go too low.
Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDIURIL), furosemide (Lasix), and many others.
- Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants)
Ashvagandha seems to make the immune system more active. Taking it along with medications that decrease the immune system might decrease the effectiveness of these medications.
Some medications that decrease the immune system include azathioprine (Imuran), basiliximab (Simulect), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), daclizumab (Zenapax), muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3), mycophenolate (CellCept), tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf), sirolimus (Rapamune), prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone), corticosteroids (glucocorticoids), and others.
- Sedative medications (Benzodiazepines)
Ashvagandha might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Drugs that cause sleepiness and drowsiness are called sedatives. Taking Ashvagandha along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.
Some of these sedative medications include clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), alprazolam (Xanax), flurazepam (Dalmane), midazolam (Versed), and others.
- Sedative medications (CNS depressants)
Ashvagandha might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Medications that cause sleepiness are called sedatives. Taking it along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.
Some sedative medications include clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), phenobarbital (Donnatal), zolpidem (Ambien), and others.
- Thyroid hormone
The body naturally produces thyroid hormones. Ashvagandha might increase how much thyroid hormone the body produces. Taking it with thyroid hormone pills might cause too much thyroid hormone in the body, and increase the effects and side effects of thyroid hormone.
- Herbs and supplements that might lower blood pressure
Ashvagandha might lower blood pressure. Combining it with other herbs and supplements that also lower blood pressure might cause blood pressure to go to low. Some herbs and supplements of this type include andrographis, casein peptides, cat’s claw, coenzyme Q-10, fish oil, L-arginine, lyceum, stinging nettle, theanine, and others.
- Herbs and supplements with sedative properties
Ashvagandha can act as a sedative. That is, it can cause sleepiness. Using it along with other herbs and supplements that also act like sedatives might cause too much sleepiness. Some of these include 5-HTP, calamus, California poppy, catnip, hops, Jamaican dogwood, kava, St. John’s wort, skullcap, valerian, yerba mansa, and others.
Dosage Of Ashvagandha
For stress: Ashvagandha root extract 300 mg twice daily after food (KSM66, Ixoreal Biomed) or 240 mg daily (Shoden, Arjuna Natural Ltd.) for 60 days.
Consult your doctor or pharmacist.
All information has been provided courtesy of MedLinePlus from the National Library of Medicine and from the FDA.