Uses of Withania

Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) is an herb native to India, the Middle East, and Africa. The root is used as an adaptogen, diuretic, and sedative in Ayurvedic medicine. The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, which rates the effectiveness of herbal substances based on scientific evidence, provides the following information about Withania:

Possibly effective for…

  • Stress. Taking 300 mg of a specific root extract (KSM66, Ixoreal Biomed) twice a day with food or taking 240 mg of a different extract (Shoden, Arjuna Natural Ltd.) each day for 60 days may improve symptoms of stress.

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for…

  • Aging. Taking a root extract appears to help improve mental alertness, quality of sleep, and overall well-being in adults aged 65 to 80 years.
  • Anxiety. Withania may reduce symptoms of anxiety.
  • Athletic performance. Withania may increase the amount of oxygen the body can use during exercise, though the effect of this upon athletic performance is not known.
  • Bipolar disorder. Taking a specific Withania extract (Sensoril, Natreon, Inc.) for 8 weeks may improve brain function in those suffering from bipolar disorder.
  • Diabetes. Taking Withania may reduce blood sugar levels in diabetics.
  • Fatigue in cancer patients. Taking a 2000 mg of a given extract (Himalaya Drug Co, New Delhi, India) during chemotherapy treatment may reduce fatigue.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder or GAD (persistent anxiety marked by exaggerated worry and tension). Withania may help reduce anxiety symptoms.
  • High cholesterol. Withania may help reduce cholesterol levels in those with high cholesterol.
  • Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid). Taking Withania may lower thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and increase thyroid hormones in people with a mild hypothyroidism.
  • Male infertility (conditions that prevent a man from impregnating a woman within a year of trying to conceive). Withania may improve sperm quality, although not sperm count, in men with fertility issues.
  • Metabolic side effects of antipsychotic drugs. Taking a 400 mg of a given extract (Cap Strelaxin, M/s Pharmanza Herbal Pvt. Ltd.) three times per day for one month may decrease the levels of fat and sugar in the blood in people being treated for schizophrenia with antipsychotics.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD (anxiety marked by recurrent thoughts and repetitive behaviors). Taking a root extract for 6 weeks alongside prescription medication(s) may decrease symptoms of OCD.
  • Sexual problems that decrease sexual satisfaction. Withania extract taken daily for 8 weeks along with counseling may increase sexual interest and satisfaction in adult women with sexual dysfunction better than just counseling.

More evidence is also needed to rate the effectiveness of Withania for treating the following:

Side Effects Of Withania

  • When taken orally: Withania is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken for no longer than 3 months. (The safety of long-term use is unknown.) Large doses may cause diarrhea, stomach upset, and vomiting. Liver problems may occur, but are rare.
  • When applied topically: There is not enough scientific information to evaluate the safety of topical use.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

  • Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Withania is LIKELY UNSAFE for pregnant, as it may cause miscarriages. There is not enough scientific information to evaluate its safety for those who are breastfeeding, so it should be avoided.
  • Auto-immune diseases [e.g., multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA)]: Withania may cause symptoms of auto-immune disorders to worsen as it increases the activity of the immune system.
  • Diabetes: Withania may lower blood sugar levels too much if used alongside diabetes medications.
  • High or low blood pressure: Withania may cause blood pressure to drop too much if used by someone with low blood pressure or taken alongside medications for high blood pressure.
  • Stomach ulcers: Do not take Withania, as it can irritate the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
  • Surgery: Withania may slow the central nervous system, which may interfere with anesthesia and medications during/after surgery. Stop taking the supplement at least 2 weeks before your surgery is scheduled.
  • Thyroid disorders: Use cautiously if you have a thyroid condition of take thyroid hormone medications.

Warnings & Precautions

  • Medications for diabetes [Antidiabetes drugs; e.g., glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, metformin (Glucophage), pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase)]

Taking Withania alongside diabetes medications may cause your blood sugar to drop too low.

  • Medications for high blood pressure [Antihypertensive drugs; e.g., captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDIURIL), furosemide (Lasix)]

Taking Withania alongside medications for high blood pressure may cause blood pressure to drop too low.

  • Medications that decrease the immune system [Immunosuppressants; e.g. azathioprine (Imuran), basiliximab (Simulect), corticosteroids (glucocorticoids), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), daclizumab (Zenapax), muromonab-CD3 (Orthoclone OKT3, OKT3), mycophenolate (CellCept), tacrolimus (Prograf, FK506), sirolimus (Rapamune), prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone)]

By increasing immune system activity, Withania may decrease the effectiveness of immunosuppressants.

  • Sedative medications [Benzodiazepines; eg., clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), alprazolam (Xanax), flurazepam (Dalmane), midazolam (Versed)]

Taking Withania alongside sedative medications may cause excessive drowsiness.

  • Sedative medications (Central nervous system depressants; e.g., clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), phenobarbital (Donnatal), zolpidem (Ambien))

Taking Withania with sedatives may cause excessive drowsiness.

  • Thyroid hormone

Taking Withania alongside thyroid hormone medications may cause the body to produce excessive amounts of thyroid hormones.

  • Herbs and supplements that may lower blood pressure (e.g., Andrographis, casein peptides, cat’s claw, coenzyme Q-10, fish oil, L-arginine, lyceum, stinging nettle, theanine)

Combining  herbs and supplements that lower blood pressure may cause blood pressure to drop too low.

  • Herbs and supplements with sedative properties (e.g., calamus, California poppy, catnip, hops, Jamaican dogwood, kava, St. John’s wort, skullcap, valerian, yerba mansa, 5-HTP)

Taking multiple sedative herbs and supplements may cause excessive drowsiness.

Dosage Of Withania


For stress: Take 300 mg of a specific root extract (KSM66, Ixoreal Biomed) twice per day after food or 240 mg daily of another extract (Shoden, Arjuna Natural Ltd.) each day for 60 days.