Ashwagandha Side Effects

To better appreciate the relative safety and mildness of rhodiola side effects, I recommend comparing them to other adaptogens. When you consider ashwagandha side effects, you have to carefully consider if the verified ashwagandha benefits outweigh the mild but not uncommon problems caused by the side effects of ashwagandha.

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What Is Ashwagandha?

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Ashwagandha is a nightshade plant used as a natural herbal remedy in Ayurvedic medicine. It is also known as Indian ginseng, winter cherry and scientifically as withania somnifera.

Ashwagandha Side Effects

It grows as a short shrub with bright reddish orange berries and small greenish flowers. Both the berries and the roots are used as medicines.

Unlike Rhodiola, Ashwagandha is most often found in the dry regions of India, including Panjab and Sindh. It also flourishes in other parts of the Middle East and east Africa. It grows best in warm, dry climates, but it does need some rain or watering to thrive.

Ashwagandha Uses

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The active compounds in ashwagandha appear to be withanolides, a form of triterpene lactones. The plant is also considered a good source of iron, though the extracts used for medicinal purposes often are isolated from the iron source of the plant.

In Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha is used to treat a wide variety of conditions, including tumors and ulcers. There are no placebo-based double-blind studies in peer-reviewed journals verifying that these are legitimate and effective uses, however ashwagandha remains a popular herbal remedy with a large amount of anecdotal evidence supporting its use and a very long history of use in Ayurveda.

Common claims of uses include improving your immune system, increasing your energy and lifting your mood. If you spend much time researching ashwagandha online, you will see a very long list of potential uses, but very few sites have any scientific evidence to support these other claims. These other claims include treating cancer, HIV, improving fertility and libido or treating impotence. A fair amount of sketchy hype surrounds its use for sexual vitality.

Besides its medicinal uses, ashwagandha is sometimes used to coagulate milk when making cheese (thus it works as a replacement for rennet).

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Ashwagandha Dosage

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Dosage can vary depending on the dosage theory of the source and the form of ashwagandha taken. It can come in a root powder or a concentrated extract, with the extract usually being more potent and more likely to cause side-effects. The most common form in North America is a capsule with both root powder and concentrated extract. The extract within these capsules is usually concentrated at 4.5% ashwagandha with that extract featuring 2.5% Withanolides and 0.1% Sitoindosides. Capsules come in 450 mg to 500 mg strengths.

The most common dosages are 1 or 2 capsules a day, but some people report benefits by taking up to 2000 mg (2 g) per day. Please exercise caution when raising your dosage to these levels and I recommend you follow each manufacturer’s suggested dosage as only that manufacturer knows the exact concentration and potency of that particular capsule.

Some supplements feature ashwagandha as just one ingredient among many. In these usually 100 mg of ashwagandha is used.

Ashwagandha Benefits

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Many claim to experience mind-soothing, energizing effects from taking the ashwagandha tonic, but unlike the benefits of rhodiola the only evidence suggesting real, concrete benefits come from animal studies not yet verified with human studies.

These ashwagandha benefits include suppressing symptoms of withdrawal from morphine and reversing cognitive deficits caused by brain damage. Again, these studies were conducted on rats, not humans, so the efficacy of these benefits on humans is still unknown and unverified.

One of the oldest and most common claims made in relation to ashwagandha involve treating cancer. For hundreds of years ashwagandha was used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat tumors. But we now have nearly 30 years of modern scientific research attempting to verify these benefits and the evidence is still lacking.

Some evidence suggests one legitimate use of ashwagandha is in treating mild anxiety. However, be careful not to take it along with any sedatives (see below for details).

Ashwagandha Side Effects

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While on the whole, ashwagandha side effects are relatively mild compare to the side-effects of potent prescription medications and most common dosages are considered nontoxic. However, there are still some troublesome symptoms and serious contraindications involved in taking ashwagandha.

Ashwagandha can cause gastrointestinal side effects by irritating the gastrointestinal tract. If you suffer from any kind of condition affecting any part of your digestive tract (including ulcers and Crohn’s Disease), you should avoid this Ayurvedic herbal remedy. The general population may experience gastrointestinal disturbances such as:

  • Abdominal Pain
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Flatulence
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea

Despite claims of finding this tonic to be energizing, more evidence suggests it could potentially cause mild drowsiness, so it should be taken with caution or preferably avoided altogether before driving or operating heavy machinery.

Ashwagandha Contraindications and Cautions

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Because ashwagandha has been found to enhance the sedative properties of some medications, it should not be taken with sedatives or tranquilizers. Because some evidence suggests it lowers blood sugar and in some cases it lowers blood pressure, ashwagandha should not be taken by those with any form of diabetes and it should not be taken with blood pressure medications or with medications that have the side-effect of lowered blood pressure.

Ashwagandha has also been shown to interfere with diabetic medications and to compromise thyroid treatment.

Because this natural herbal remedy has shown some abortifacient properties, it should not be taken by pregnant women or lactating women.

While there may be cases where a quality ashwagandha tonic can help soothe your anxiety and lift your mood, it is a mild effect and the ashwagandha side effects and contraindications make it a less than optimal choice for treating your anxiety or other ailments. Obviously some will read this and assume this article was written with a bias towards Rhodiola Rosea, but even with rhodiola I try to communicate the many cases where research is ongoing and where benefits are not yet verified.