Ashwagandha also known as Indian ginseng and winter cherry (Shutterstock)

Ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub that grows in Asia and Africa. They contain chemicals that may help calm the brain, reduce swelling, lower blood pressure and suppress the immune system, according to a report in WebMed.

Benefits of Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha may have benefits that include:

  • Reduce stress, as oral intake of ashwagandha appears to reduce anxiety in people with generalized anxiety disorder, a type of severe and persistent anxiety and stress.
  • Weight loss, as oral administration of this plant also appears to help reduce stress-related weight gain.
  • Treatment of insomnia, where oral intake of ashwagandha appears to improve overall sleep quality in some people.

These are potential benefits according to studies, but there are no clear and conclusive results, and ashwagandha cannot be recommended as a treatment for insomnia, for example.

There is also interest in using ashwagandha for a number of diseases and conditions, but there is not enough reliable information to determine whether it is beneficial.

When is the best time to eat ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is usually taken in capsule or tablet form. They can be eaten with or without food, and can be eaten at any time of the day. But the most popular time to eat ashwagandha is a few hours before bedtime, because it may help you fall asleep.

What are the cons of ashwagandha?

The long-term safety of ashwagandha is unknown. Large doses of ashwagandha may cause stomach upset, diarrhea and vomiting.

Ashwagandha Damage

  • Liver problems, including acute liver failure and the need for a liver transplant.
  • Ashwagandha is unsafe during pregnancy. There is some evidence that ashwagandha may cause miscarriage.

Ashwagandha May Help Reduce Stress-Related Weight Gain (Getty Images)

Cases when it is recommended to avoid ashwagandha

  • Breastfeeding, as there is not enough reliable information to know if the use of ashwagandha is safe when breastfeeding.
  • Autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or other conditions. Ashwagandha can cause the immune system to become more active, which can lead to increased symptoms.
  • Surgery, as ashwagandha may slow down the central nervous system, and anesthesia and other medications during and after surgery may increase this effect. Stop taking ashwagandha at least two weeks before surgery.
  • Thyroid disorders, as ashwagandha may increase its hormone levels. Ashwagandha should be used with caution or avoided if you have thyroid disease or are taking thyroid hormone medications.

How to use Ashwagandha


When taken orally, ashwagandha is likely to be safe when used for up to 3 months.


When applied to the skin, a preparation containing ashwagandha is likely to be safe when used for up to two months.

Names of the herb Ashwagandha

The name of ashwagandha is "Withania somnifera", also known as Indian ginseng and winter cherry.

Medications that ashwagandha may interact with

1- Drugs that suppress the immune system

Ashwagandha can increase the activity of the immune system. Some medications, such as those used after an organ transplant, reduce the activity of the immune system.

2- Sedative drugs (benzodiazepines)

Ashwagandha may cause drowsiness and slow breathing. Some medications, called sedatives, can cause drowsiness and slow breathing. Taking ashwagandha with sedative medications may cause breathing problems and/or too much drowsiness.

3- Thyroid medications

The body naturally produces thyroid hormones. Ashwagandha may increase the amount of thyroid hormone produced by the body. Taking ashwagandha with thyroid hormone pills may cause an increase in thyroid hormone in the body and increase the effects and side effects of thyroid hormone.

4- Diabetes medications

Ashwagandha may lower blood sugar levels. Taking ashwagandha with diabetes medications can cause blood sugar to drop dramatically. Therefore, if ingested, it is necessary to monitor blood sugar closely.

5- High blood pressure medications

Ashwagandha may lower blood pressure. Taking ashwagandha with medications that lower blood pressure can significantly lower blood pressure. Therefore, if ingested, blood pressure should be monitored closely.

Source : Al Jazeera + Agencies