Ashwagandha Supplement Benefits for Stress, Anxiety and Mood

Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) is one of the oldest known medicinal herbs. Dating back over 3,000 years in ancient Ayurvedic medicine as a tonic and revitalizer, today it is a popularly used herbal supplement believed to be an effective tool to manage stress.

Type: Adaptogen/Natural Nootropic
Used For: Mood Enhancement, Stress Relief, Anxiety, Depression, Insomnia, Cognitive Function, Focus, Anti-Aging, Arthritis, Inflammation, Infertility, Aphrodisiac
Typical Dosage: 250 mg-1,300 mg per day
Possible Drug Interactions: Thyroid Hormone Pills, Benzodiazepines, Anti-Diabetes Medicines, Anti-hypertensive Drugs, Barbiturates, Sedatives, Immunosuppressants, Anti-Anxiety Medications
Supplement Interactions: May Interact with supplements that lower blood pressure or have sedative effects

What is Ashwagandha?


Ashwagandha is a very popular herbal supplement derived from the Withania Somnifera plant, more specifically its root, that is found in India, parts of Africa and now cultivated in the USA and Europe. This plump shrub belonging to the tomato family was used in traditional Indian medicine for centuries as a restorative, considered effective at bringing back balance to the body promoting overall health, vitality and longevity.

Ashwagandha-Anxiety, Stress & SleepToday, Ashwagandha supplements are most commonly used to help fight against the effects of stress and anxiety, as a Nootropic tool for enhanced cognition and mood, to relieve insomnia and for its many potential benefits on general health and well-being.

In Sanskrit, the scripture for “longevity” Ashwagandha means the “smell of a horse” which refers to the odor of the root of this plant and the traditional belief that its medicinal properties offer to restore strength and health associated with the “power of a stallion”.

It is considered to be an adaptogen, a non-toxic application belonging to a unique class of plants thought to have healing properties and help the body cope with the damaging effects of stress which today, is a benefit of this herb that is supported by scientific evidence.

In Ayurvedic medicine, India’s traditional “whole body” healing systems, Ashwagandha belongs to a class of Rasayana herbs, meaning “path of essence” or rejuvenation of the body, which are historically highly regarded to promote youthfulness, fight against disease and encourage the maintenance of overall health.

Traditionally, the root of this plant was used as a cure-all remedy to treat a wide range of problems from impaired sexual performance, insomnia, snake bites, muscle aches to tumors and often referred to by herbalists as Indian ginseng but the two plants are not the same.

As one of the oldest known medicinal herbs, it has since been extensively researched and shown to be promisingly effective at alleviating the effects of stress which may contribute to boosting cognition. Additionally, many users say Ashwagandha has anti-anxiety effects, boosts mood and helps improve their quality of sleep.

Although there is still so much more to learn about all the potential effects of Ashwagandha in human clinical trials, today scientists believe that this herb additionally exhibits anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-cancer and immunomodulatory properties, making the list of the possible benefits of this supplement very broad.

Ashwagandha Benefits and Effects For Anxiety


There are a wide range of benefits associated with taking Ashwagandha supplements but the most known benefits of this natural herb is its noted ability to help combat anxiety and the effects of stress.

Many clinical trials suggest it has powerful anxiolytic properties (anti-anxiety effects) and many users view Ashwagandha as an effective natural stress buster that calms the body and mind.

This, in turn, may lead to supporting a positive mood and promoting a better quality of sleep and the facilitation of memory and focus.

In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, Ashwagandha is considered one of the most highly prized adaptogenic herbs, compounds which are specifically thought to help the body cope with the physical and chemical effects of stress.

To this effect, the plant contains glycowithanolids, alkaloids and steroidal lactones which are thought to help balance the body’s primary stress hormone, cortisol.

Cortisol is made in the adrenal glands and released as the body’s natural response to stress. It has many roles in the body and works in certain parts of the brain helping to regulate fear and mood. Its production and release is increased when fear, worry, stress or other fight or flight responses are present.

Although a necessary protective response by the body, excessive chronic levels of cortisol that consistently remain too high are strongly associated with many negative health problems including weight gain, weakened immune system functioning, high blood pressure, extreme fatigue, reduced libido, depression, anxiety and chronic insomnia.

Ashwagandha is thought to help prevent these symptoms from arising which may be attributed to its documented ability to reduce cortisol levels that may wreak havoc on your health and emotional state.

In a placebo-controlled, double-blind human trial over a two months period, it has shown to effectively lower serum cortisol levels and showed significant effects in reducing anxiety and mental stress which leads to an improvement in mood.

In addition, the action of withanolide glycosides in Ashwagandha are thought to stimulate GABAergic and serotonergic receptors, helping to reduce the mental experience of anxiety, stress and depression. In animal studies, Ashwagandha demonstrated GABA-like properties which may provide a soothing calmness and sense of relaxation and act as a mild sedative without causing drowsiness.

This may be useful for both healthy people and individuals diagnosed with depression and panic disorder, where many users report Ashwagandha being one of the best supplements to help with anxiety, depression and restore energy.

In respect to cognitive functions, research has repeatedly demonstrated that anxiety plays a huge role in cognitive difficulties, impairing memory, focus and concentration.

Although studies on Ashwagandha’s ability to enhance cognitive functions are limited, many users report online that they experience a substantial improvement in the ability to focus, thoughts are clearer and reaction time is improved when using this supplement but this effect may be most noticed in people who were priorly anxious or highly stressed.

Although the experience of taking Ashwagandha supplements to manage stress and anxiety may differ in people, for most it is said to be an effective tool, especially when taken prior to anxiety-inducing or stressful situations.



Ashwagandha Other Uses and Health Benefits


Ashwangandha is most typically used to reduce both physical and psychological stress, promote energy, clearer thinking ability, as a sleep aid and to enhance mood but scientists believe that it may have positive influences as a therapeutic agent, potentially aiding with many health conditions and contributing to the fight against diseases.

Although the exact mechanisms of action of Ashwagandha are not fully understood, some of the main chemical active constituents in the Withania somnifera plant (Ashwagandha), steroidal lactones and alkaloids are thought to positively affect the body by acting as an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory.

Ashwagandha appears to scavenge and remove free radicals caused by cellular oxidation throughout the body, organs and the brain, where it may help maintain the health of the cells and their signaling capacity.

The removal of free radicals assists in stopping the chain reaction that harms the surrounding cells, which is an action that is highly associated with aging and many degenerative diseases including diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

In particular, research studies suggest the content of withaferin-A in the roots of Ashwagandha promote the regeneration of axons and dendrites in brain nerve cells which support the reconstruction of synapses where cells communicate with each other. This may help restore neural networks, making this herb a promising potential treatment for neurodegenerative diseases.

Additionally, Ashwagandha is believed to be an effective anti-inflammatory which is an effect that may be attributed to most of the benefits of this herb. This may help protect and rejuvenate the immune system, enhance cognition and defend against brain cell decay.

Ashwagandha may be useful to help ease the symptoms of fibromyalgia, arthritis and joint pain and other conditions involving chronic muscle pain related to inflammation.

It is also considered a powerful tool to boost the immune system and is known to lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and may help fight infections.

Ashwagandha can also be found in many supplements marketed as aphrodisiacs, where it is used to boost sexual desire in both men and women which is one of its traditional uses.

It is thought to improve male sexual health and fertility, increasing prosexual behavior, sperm count and semen count. In recent research, it is even suggested to boost serum levels of testosterone and improve muscle size and strength. This may be where this herb historically got its association with “the strength of a stallion”.

Although Ashwagandha has many potential important benefits and has been one of the most highly investigated herbs, it is not approved by the FDA to treat or prevent any medical conditions.

Is Ashwagandha Safe to Take?


Ashwagandha appears to be very safe and well tolerated within the appropriate dosage range 300 mg-1,000 mg per day. There has not been any serious side effects reported when taken for short-term use by healthy adults.

The most reported potential side effects include stomach upset, diarrhea and drowsiness which are generally considered to be mild and temporary. If these side effects persist, discontinue use of this supplement.

If you experience an upset stomach, which has been reported with high doses, you may want to consider taking Ashwagandha with a meal or lowering the dose. This supplement is not recommended for people with stomach ulcers or prone to heartburn.

If you experience a skin rash, fever or swelling of the mouth, discontinue use and contact your doctor right away.

Do not take Ashwagandha if you are pregnant or nursing. There has been evidence that it may cause miscarriages. Additionally, there is limited data on this herbs safety for children and they should not take it.

Ashwagandha may interact with medications and other supplements and enhance the effects of sedatives, anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications and is not recommended.

It may also interact with immune suppressants, thyroid medications, blood pressure medications (for low or high blood pressure) or medications that lower blood sugar levels (diabetics) and should not be used.

It is a good idea to consult with your doctor first before taking Ashwagandha or any herbal supplements especially if you are taking other medications or previously diagnosed with any condition.

Ashwagandha Dosage Guidelines


There is no standard recommended dosage guidelines for Ashwagandha from the FDA. According to The Natural Medicines Database, it has been used safely in clinical studies at doses ranging from 300 mg up to 1 gram per day over a twelve week period.

The dosage range can vary from person to person depending on age, weight and other factors. It is recommended to speak with your doctor first to determine what dosage is right for you.

The typical suggested dosage range of Ashwagandha is between 250 mg and up to 1,000 mg per day in total. This can be divided up into two to three administrations throughout the day and should be taken with a meal. This supplement can also be taken in smaller doses of 50 mg-100 mg per day in total and still be effective.

Ashwagandha can interact with medications. If you are currently diagnosed with a condition or taking prescription medication, it is recommended to consult with a doctor first before taking this supplement.

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