- What other names is Ashwagandha known by?
- What is Ashwagandha?
- How does Ashwagandha work?
- Are there safety concerns?
- Are there any interactions with medications?
- Dosing considerations for Ashwagandha.
Ajagandha, Amangura, Amukkirag, Asan, Asana, Asgand, Asgandh, Asgandha, Ashagandha, Ashvagandha, Ashwaganda, Ashwanga, Asoda, Asundha, Asvagandha, Aswagandha, Avarada, Ayurvedic Ginseng, Cerise d'Hiver, Clustered Wintercherry, Ghoda Asoda, Ginseng Ayurvédique, Ginseng Indien, Hayahvaya, Indian Ginseng, Kanaje Hindi, Kuthmithi, Orovale, Peyette, Physalis somnifera, Samm Al Ferakh, Samm Al Rerakh, Sogade-Beru, Strychnos, Turangi-Ghanda, Vajigandha, Winter Cherry, Withania, Withania somnifera.
Ashwagandha is a plant. The root and berry are used to make medicine.
Ashwagandha has a lot of uses. But so far, there isn't enough information to judge whether it is effective for any of them.
Ashwagandha is used for arthritis, anxiety, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), balance, trouble sleeping (insomnia), tumors, tuberculosis, asthma, a skin condition marked by white patchiness (leukoderma), bronchitis, backache, fibromyalgia, menstrual problems, hiccups, Parkinson's disease, and chronic liver disease. It is also used to reduce side effects of medications used to treat cancer and schizophrenia. Ashwagandha is used to reduce levels of fat and sugar in the blood.
Ashwagandha is also used as an "adaptogen" to help the body cope with daily stress, and as a general tonic.
Some people also use ashwagandha for improving thinking ability, decreasing pain and swelling (inflammation), and preventing the effects of aging. It is also used for fertility problems in men and women and also to increase sexual desire.
Ashwagandha is applied to the skin for treating wounds, backache, and one-sided paralysis (hemiplegia).
The name Ashwagandha is from the Sanskrit language and is a combination of the word ashva, meaning horse, and gandha, meaning smell. The root has a strong aroma that is described as "horse-like."
In Ayurvedic, Indian, and Unani medicine, ashwagandha is described as "Indian ginseng." Ashwagandha is also used in traditional African medicine for a variety of ailments.
Don't confuse ashwagandha with Physalis alkekengi. Both are known as winter cherry.
Possibly Effective for...
- Stress. Taking a specific ashwagandha root extract (KSM66, Ixoreal Biomed, Hyderabad, India) 300 mg twice daily after food for 60 days appears to improve symptoms of stress.
Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...
- Reducing side effects associated with medications called antipsychotics. Antipsychotics are used to treat schizophrenia but they can cause levels of fat and sugar in the blood to increase. Taking a specific ashwagandha extract (Cap Strelaxin, M/s Pharmanza Herbal Pvt. Ltd., Gujarat, India) 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 clinical research shows that taking ashwagandha can reduce some symptoms of anxiety or anxious mood.
- Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Some clinical research shows that a combination herbal product containing ashwagandha may improve attention and impulse control in children with ADHD. The effect of ashwagandha alone is unclear.
- Bipolar disorder. Taking a specific ashwagandha extract (Sensoril, Natreon, Inc., New Bruswick, New Jersey) for 8 weeks might improve brain function in people being treated for bipolar disorder.
- A brain condition called cerebellar ataxia. Preliminary research shows that ashwagandha in combination with an alternative form of medicine known as Ayurvedic therapy might improve balance in people with cerebellar ataxia.
- Fatigue in people treated for cancer (chemotherapy). Early research suggests taking a specific ashwagandha extract 2,000 mg (Himalaya Drug Co, New Delhi, India) during chemotherapy treatment might reduce feelings of tiredness.
- Diabetes. There is some evidence that ashwagandha might reduce blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
- High cholesterol. There is some evidence that ashwagandha might reduce cholesterol levels in patients with high cholesterol.
- Male infertility. Some preliminary clinical evidence suggests that ashwagandha might improve sperm quality, but not sperm count, in infertile men. It is not known if taking ashwagandha can actually improve fertility.
- Arthritis. There is preliminary research that ashwagandha taken in a particular supplement (Articulin-F) along with other ingredients might improve arthritis symptoms. The impact of ashwagandha alone in osteoarthritis is unclear.
- Parkinson's disease. Preliminary research suggests that a combination of herbs including ashwagandha improves Parkinson's symptoms. The effect of ashwagandha alone in Parkinson's is unknown.
- Altering immune system function.
- Inducing vomiting.
- Liver problems.
- Preventing the signs of aging.
- Swelling (inflammation).
- Other conditions.
Ashwagandha contains chemicals that might help calm the brain, reduce swelling (inflammation), lower blood pressure, and alter the immune system.
Ashwagandha is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth short-term. The long-term safety of ashwagandha is not known. Large doses of ashwagandha might cause stomach upset, diarrhea, and vomiting.
It's not known whether it's safe to apply ashwagandha directly to the skin.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Do not use ashwagandha if you are pregnant. It is rated LIKELY UNSAFE during pregnancy. There is some evidence that ashwagandha might cause miscarriages. Not enough is known about the use of ashwagandha during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Diabetes: Ashwagandha might lower blood sugar levels. This could interfere with medications used for diabetes and cause blood sugar levels to go to low. If you have diabetes, monitor your blood sugar closely.
High or low blood pressure: Ashwagandha might decrease blood pressure. This could cause blood pressure to go to low in people with low blood pressure; or interfere with medications used to treat high blood pressure. Ashwagandha should be used cautiously if you have low blood pressure or take medications for your blood pressure.
Stomach ulcers: Ashwagandha can irritate the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Don't use ashwagandha 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: Ashwagandha 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 ashwagandha.
Surgery: Ashwagandha 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 ashwagandha at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.
Ashwagandha might decrease blood sugar levels. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking ashwagandha 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)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.
Ashwagandha might lower blood pressure. Taking ashwagandha with medications used to treat high blood pressure might cause blood pressure levels to go to 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)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.
Ashwagandha seems to make the immune system more active. Taking ashwagandha 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)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.
Ashwagandha might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Drugs that cause sleepiness and drowsiness are called sedatives. Taking ashwagandha along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.
Sedative medications (CNS depressants)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.
Ashwagandha might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Medications that cause sleepiness are called sedatives. Taking ashwagandha along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.
Thyroid hormoneInteraction Rating: Minor Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.
The body naturally produces thyroid hormones. Ashwagandha might increase how much thyroid hormone the body produces. Taking ashwagandha with thyroid hormone pills might cause too much thyroid hormone in the body, and increase the effects and side effects of thyroid hormone.
- For stress: Ashwagandha root extract (KSM66, Ixoreal Biomed, Hyderabad, India) 300 mg twice daily after food for 60 days.
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Ahumada F, Aspee F, Wikman G, and et al. Withania somnifera extract. Its effect on arterial blood pressure in anaesthetized dogs. Phytotherapy Research 1991;5:111-114.
Anbalagan K and Sadique J. Withania somnifera (ashwagandha), a rejuvenating herbal drug which controls alpha-2 macroglobulin synthesis during inflammation. Int.J.Crude Drug Res. 1985;23(4):177-183.
Anbalagan, K. and Sadique, J. Influence of an Indian medicine (Ashwagandha) on acute-phase reactants in inflammation. Indian J Exp Biol. 1981;19(3):245-249. View abstract.
Aphale, A. A., Chhibba, A. D., Kumbhakarna, N. R., Mateenuddin, M., and Dahat, S. H. Subacute toxicity study of the combination of ginseng (Panax ginseng) and ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in rats: a safety assessment. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 1998;42(2):299-302. View abstract.
Begum, V. H. and Sadique, J. Long term effect of herbal drug Withania somnifera on adjuvant induced arthritis in rats. Indian J Exp Biol. 1988;26(11):877-882. View abstract.
Bhat, J., Damle, A., Vaishnav, P. P., Albers, R., Joshi, M., and Banerjee, G. In vivo enhancement of natural killer cell activity through tea fortified with Ayurvedic herbs. Phytother.Res 2010;24(1):129-135. View abstract.
Bhattacharya, S. K. and Muruganandam, A. V. Adaptogenic activity of Withania somnifera: an experimental study using a rat model of chronic stress. Pharmacol Biochem.Behav 2003;75(3):547-555. View abstract.
Bhattacharya, S. K., Bhattacharya, A., Sairam, K., and Ghosal, S. Anxiolytic-antidepressant activity of Withania somnifera glycowithanolides: an experimental study. Phytomedicine 2000;7(6):463-469. View abstract.
Choudhary, M. I., Nawaz, S. A., ul-Haq, Z., Lodhi, M. A., Ghayur, M. N., Jalil, S., Riaz, N., Yousuf, S., Malik, A., Gilani, A. H., and ur-Rahman, A. Withanolides, a new class of natural cholinesterase inhibitors with calcium antagonistic properties. Biochem.Biophys.Res Commun. 8-19-2005;334(1):276-287. View abstract.
Davis, L. and Kuttan, G. Effect of Withania somnifera on DMBA induced carcinogenesis. J Ethnopharmacol. 2001;75(2-3):165-168. View abstract.
Deocaris, C. C., Widodo, N., Wadhwa, R., and Kaul, S. C. Merger of ayurveda and tissue culture-based functional genomics: inspirations from systems biology. J.Transl.Med. 2008;6:14. View abstract.
Devi, P. U., Sharada, A. C., and Solomon, F. E. Antitumor and radiosensitizing effects of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) on a transplantable mouse tumor, Sarcoma-180. Indian J Exp Biol. 1993;31(7):607-611. View abstract.
Devi, P. U., Sharada, A. C., and Solomon, F. E. In vivo growth inhibitory and radiosensitizing effects of withaferin A on mouse Ehrlich ascites carcinoma. Cancer Lett. 8-16-1995;95(1-2):189-193. View abstract.
Devi, P. U., Sharada, A. C., Solomon, F. E., and Kamath, M. S. In vivo growth inhibitory effect of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) on a transplantable mouse tumor, Sarcoma 180. Indian J Exp Biol. 1992;30(3):169-172. View abstract.
Dhuley, J. N. Effect of ashwagandha on lipid peroxidation in stress-induced animals. J Ethnopharmacol. 1998;60(2):173-178. View abstract.
Dhuley, J. N. Therapeutic efficacy of Ashwagandha against experimental aspergillosis in mice. Immunopharmacol.Immunotoxicol. 1998;20(1):191-198. View abstract.
Ghosal S, Lal J, Srivastava R, and et al. Immunomodulatory and CNS effects of sitoindosides 9 and 10, two new glycowithanolides from Withania somnifera. Phytotherapy Research 1989;3(5):201-206.
Gupta, S. K., Dua, A., and Vohra, B. P. Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) attenuates antioxidant defense in aged spinal cord and inhibits copper induced lipid peroxidation and protein oxidative modifications. Drug Metabol.Drug Interact. 2003;19(3):211-222. View abstract.
Kaur, K., Rani, G., Widodo, N., Nagpal, A., Taira, K., Kaul, S. C., and Wadhwa, R. Evaluation of the anti-proliferative and anti-oxidative activities of leaf extract from in vivo and in vitro raised Ashwagandha. Food Chem.Toxicol. 2004;42(12):2015-2020. View abstract.
Khattak, S., Saeed, Ur Rehman, Shah, H. U., Khan, T., and Ahmad, M. In vitro enzyme inhibition activities of crude ethanolic extracts derived from medicinal plants of Pakistan. Nat.Prod.Res 2005;19(6):567-571. View abstract.
Kulkarni, S. K. and Dhir, A. Withania somnifera: an Indian ginseng. Prog.Neuropsychopharmacol.Biol.Psychiatry 7-1-2008;32(5):1093-1105. View abstract.
Kuppurajan K, Rajagopalan SS, Sitoraman R, and et al. Effect of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera Dunal) on the process of ageing on human volunteers. Journal of Research in Ayurveda and Siddha 1980;1(2):247-258.
Lu, L., Liu, Y., Zhu, W., Shi, J., Liu, Y., Ling, W., and Kosten, T. R. Traditional medicine in the treatment of drug addiction. Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse 2009;35(1):1-11. View abstract.
Malhotra, C. L., Mehta, V. L., Das, P. K., and Dhalla, N. S. Studies on Withania-ashwagandha, Kaul. V. The effect of total alkaloids (ashwagandholine) on the central nervous system. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 1965;9(3):127-136. View abstract.
Malhotra, C. L., Mehta, V. L., Prasad, K., and Das, P. K. Studies on Withania ashwagandha, Kaul. IV. The effect of total alkaloids on the smooth muscles. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 1965;9(1):9-15. View abstract.
Malviya, N., Jain, S., Gupta, V. B., and Vyas, S. Recent studies on aphrodisiac herbs for the management of male sexual dysfunction--a review. Acta Pol.Pharm. 2011;68(1):3-8. View abstract.
Mikolai, J., Erlandsen, A., Murison, A., Brown, K. A., Gregory, W. L., Raman-Caplan, P., and Zwickey, H. L. In vivo effects of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract on the activation of lymphocytes. J.Altern.Complement Med. 2009;15(4):423-430. View abstract.
Praveenkumar, V., Kuttan, R., and Kuttan, G. Chemoprotective action of Rasayanas against cyclosphamide toxicity. Tumori 8-31-1994;80(4):306-308. View abstract.
Sehgal, V. N., Verma, P., and Bhattacharya, S. N. Fixed-drug eruption caused by ashwagandha (Withania somnifera): a widely used Ayurvedic drug. Skinmed. 2012;10(1):48-49. View abstract.
Sharada, A. C., Solomon, F. E., Devi, P. U., Udupa, N., and Srinivasan, K. K. Antitumor and radiosensitizing effects of withaferin A on mouse Ehrlich ascites carcinoma in vivo. Acta Oncol. 1996;35(1):95-100. View abstract.
Singh, R. H., Narsimhamurthy, K., and Singh, G. Neuronutrient impact of Ayurvedic Rasayana therapy in brain aging. Biogerontology. 2008;9(6):369-374. View abstract.
Tohda, C. [Overcoming several neurodegenerative diseases by traditional medicines: the development of therapeutic medicines and unraveling pathophysiological mechanisms]. Yakugaku Zasshi 2008;128(8):1159-1167. View abstract.
Upadhaya L and et al. Role of an indigenous drug Geriforte on blood levels of biogenic amines and its significance in the treatment of anxiety neurosis. Acta Nerv Super 1990;32(1):1-5.
Vaishnavi, K., Saxena, N., Shah, N., Singh, R., Manjunath, K., Uthayakumar, M., Kanaujia, S. P., Kaul, S. C., Sekar, K., and Wadhwa, R. Differential activities of the two closely related withanolides, Withaferin A and Withanone: bioinformatics and experimental evidences. PLoS.One. 2012;7(9):e44419. View abstract.
Ven Murthy, M. R., Ranjekar, P. K., Ramassamy, C., and Deshpande, M. Scientific basis for the use of Indian ayurvedic medicinal plants in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders: ashwagandha. Cent.Nerv.Syst.Agents Med.Chem. 9-1-2010;10(3):238-246. View abstract.
Venkataraghavan S, Seshadri C, Sundaresan TP, and et al. The comparative effect of milk fortified with Aswagandha, Aswagandha and Punarnava in children - a double-blind study. J Res Ayur Sid 1980;1:370-385.
Agarwal R, Diwanay S, Patki P, Patwardhan B. Studies on immunomodulatory activity of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) extracts in experimental immune inflammation. J Ethnopharmacol 1999;67:27-35. View abstract.
Agnihotri AP, Sontakke SD, Thawani VR, Saoji A, Goswami VS. Effects of Withania somnifera in patients of schizophrenia: a randomized, double blind, placebo controlled pilot trial study. Indian J Pharmacol. 2013;45(4):417-8. View abstract.
Ahmad MK, Mahdi AA, Shukla KK, et al. Withania somnifera improves semen quality by regulating reproductive hormone levels and oxidative stress in seminal plasma of infertile males. Fertil Steril 2010;94:989-96. View abstract.
Ahumada F, Aspee F, Wikman G, Hancke J. Withania somnifera exract. Its effects on arterial blood pressure in anaesthetized dogs. Phytother Res 1991;5:111-14.
Ambiye VR, Langade D, Dongre S, Aptikar P, Kulkarni M, Dongre A. Clinical Evaluation of the Spermatogenic Activity of the Root Extract of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in Oligospermic Males: A Pilot Study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:571420. View abstract.
Andallu B, Radhika B. Hypoglycemic, diuretic and hypocholesterolemic effect of winter cherry (Withania somnifera, Dunal) root. Indian J Exp Biol 2000;38:607-9. View abstract.
Archana R, Namasivayam A. Antistressor effect of Withania somnifera. J Ethnopharmacol 1999;64:91-3. View abstract.
Bhattacharya SK, Satyan KS, Ghosal S. Antioxidant activity of glycowithanolides from Withania somnifera. Indian J Exp Biol 1997;35:236-9. View abstract.
Biswal BM, Sulaiman SA, Ismail HC, Zakaria H, Musa KI. Effect of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) on the development of chemotherapy-induced fatigue and quality of life in breast cancer patients. Integr Cancer Ther. 2013;12(4):312-22. View abstract.
Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, Anishetty S. 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 J Psychol Med. 2012;34(3):255-62. View abstract.
Chengappa KN, Bowie CR, Schlicht PJ, Fleet D, Brar JS, Jindal R. Randomized placebo-controlled adjunctive study of an extract of withania somnifera for cognitive dysfunction in bipolar disorder. J Clin Psychiatry. 2013;74(11):1076-83. View abstract.
Cooley K, Szczurko O, Perri D, et al. Naturopathic care for anxiety: a randomized controlled trial ISRC TN78958974. PLoS One 2009;4:e6628. View abstract.
Dasgupta A, Peterson A, Wells A, Actor JK. Effect of Indian Ayurvedic medicine Ashwagandha on measurement of serum digoxin and 11 commonly monitored drugs using immunoassays: study of protein binding and interaction with Digibind. Arch Pathol Lab Med 2007;131:1298-303. View abstract.
Dasgupta A, Tso G, Wells A. Effect of Asian ginseng, Siberian ginseng, and Indian ayurvedic medicine Ashwagandha on serum digoxin measurement by Digoxin III, a new digoxin immunoassay. J Clin Lab Anal 2008;22:295-301. View abstract.
Davis L, Kuttan G. Suppressive effect of cyclophosphamide-induced toxicity by Withania somnifera extract in mice. J Ethnopharmacol 1998;62:209-14. View abstract.
Davis L, Kuttan G. Effect of Withania somnifera on cyclophosphamide-induced urotoxicity. Cancer Lett 2000;148:9-17. View abstract.
Katz M, Levine AA, Kol-Degani H, Kav-Venaki L. A compound herbal preparation (CHP) in the treatment of children with ADHD: a randomized controlled trial. J Atten Disord 2010;14:281-91. View abstract.
Kulkarni RR, Patki PS, Jog VP, et al. Treatment of osteoarthritis with a herbomineral formulation: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study. J Ethnopharmacol 1991;33:91-5. View abstract.
Mishra LC, Singh BB, Dagenais S. Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Withania somnifera (ashwagandha): a review. Altern Med Rev 2000;5:334-46. View abstract.
Nagashayana N, Sankarankutty P, Nampoothiri MRV, et al. Association of l-DOPA with recovery following Ayurveda medication in Parkinson's Disease. J Neurol Sci 2000;176:124-7. View abstract.
Panda S, Kar A. Changes in thyroid hormone concentrations after administration of ashwagandha root extract to adult male mice. J Pharm Pharmacol 1998;50:1065-68. View abstract.
Panda S, Kar A. Withania somnifera and Bauhinia purpurea in the regulation of circulating thyroid hormone concentrations in female mice. J Ethnopharmacol 1999;67:233-39. View abstract.
Sriranjini SJ, Pal PK, Devidas KV, Ganpathy S. Improvement of balance in progressive degenerative cerebellar ataxias after Ayurvedic therapy: a preliminary report. Neurol India 2009;57:166-71. View abstract.
Sud Khyati S, Thaker B. A randomized double blind placebo controlled study of ashwagandha on generalized anxiety disorder. Int Ayurvedic Med J 2013;1(5):1-7.
Upton R, ed. Ashwagandha Root (Withania somnifera): Analytical, quality control, and therapuetic monograph. Santa Cruz, CA: American Herbal Pharmacopoeia 2000:1-25.