Are you wondering why there is so much hype around Ashwagandha? We were too! When looking for a natural alternative to reduce anxiety, Ashwagandha bubbles to the top of the list.
We dove into the claims and the science that backs it up. There are a few key things to know before trying Ashwagandha for anxiety.
What is Ashwagandha?
This root is popular in Ayurvedic medicine (Indian medicine) and has been used for over 3,000 years. Ashwagandha is known for a number of benefits, including thyroid regulation, battling anxiety and stress, helping depression, and decreasing inflammation. Ashwagandha for anxiety is the most notable and researched benefit.
It’s an adaptogen, a substance that helps the body cope with stress. Ayurveda uses it as a sleep aid and to balance various conditions that arise from ‘vata dosha’ imbalances. It encourages youth and vitality and considered a grounding and nourishing herb to support well-being.
Does Ashwagandha for Anxiety Work?
It might! Similar to medications, Ashwagandha is not going to be the right fit for everyone. But it has worked wonders for many! There are thousands of Ashwagandha products available, many with stellar reviews.
There is also promising research behind Ashwagandha’s ability to reduce anxiety and stress. As an adaptogen, it helps bring the body back into a state of balance. Ashwagandha has been shown to reduce anxiety, decrease stress, and even improve memory. That’s why it’s common to see Ashwagandha as a common ingredient in nootropic stacks.
Here a just a few of example studies that focus on Ashwagandha’s ability to reduce Anxiety:
One study with 64 people who struggled with stress, had a significant reduction in stress levels. For example, cortisol levels for the Ashwagandha participants were down 28%! These results were from taking 600mg of high concentration, full-spectrum Ashwagandha extract per day, for 60 days .
In a different study, 88% of participants with anxiety disorders reported a reduction in anxiety, compared to 50% who took a placebo. The participants were previously diagnosed with disorders such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Mixed Anxiety & Depression, and Adjustment Disorder with Anxiety. The results were significant at after 6 weeks .
In a double-blind, randomized study, Ashwagandha reduced experiential and biochemical indicators of stress without any adverse effects. Results were measured for participants taking 125mg, 250mg, and 500mg of Ashwagandha extract per day. Results were measured after 30 and 60 days. Indicators of stress were reduced at all doses but had greater effects as the dosage increased .
Based on previous human studies, results suggest Ashwagandha may help with the following:
- reduce anxiety and stress
- decrease c-reactive protein levels
- decrease cortisol
- improve memory formation
Ashwagandha is a well-researched herb with a strong track record showing positive results for those struggling with stress and anxiety. It is believed to be a safe supplement for long-term use without major side effects, though results may vary. Some side-effects have been reported, though they are often described as mild or moderate.
Some of the most common side effects include:
- upset stomach
- can raise thyroid levels
- can irritate autoimmune disease
While this herb may not work for everyone, it can have a powerful impact on those struggling with anxiety.
Here’s what others are saying about Ashwagandha around the web:
Been taking it for a little over a year now. Little things don’t bother me, I’m more laid back, my natural test levels were .697 nm last time my bloods were taken, I sleep better, I wake up feeling fantastic, my tolerance to stress has increased. I will be taking this herb for the rest of my life. – NootropicsCity (reddit)
KSM-66 [ashwagandha] helped me sleep better when my cortisol levels were raised because of stress. Now that my levels are normal again i don’t notice any effects anymore. – ajin33 (reddit)
How Long does it take Ashwagandha to Work?
It’s hard to say exactly how long it will take to see the results you’re looking for. The supporting studies measuring Ashwagandha for anxiety generally range from 4-12 weeks. One study found a reduction in stress after only 4 weeks, but stress levels decreased even more after 8 weeks . You’ll likely need to take for a least a month to see any noticeable results and even longer to reach optimal results. Of course, the speed and effectiveness will depend on the dosage and your particular body.
What is the best Ashwagandha Supplement?
First, you’ll need to decide whether you want to take an extract or full-root powder. Ashwagandha extracts are a synthesized form of the herb made from the root or leaf. In other words, it’s potent form (than the plant itself).
One of the most popular Ashwagandha extracts is KSM-66. It is known for its safe process to extract the beneficial elements with milk, just as done in Indian tradition. This extract has been widely tested and has been used in scientific studies backing its effectiveness. This process has been around for over 15 years!
Sensoril is another well known extract you can trust. If you see Sensoril or KSM-66 on the label, you can expect a high quality, standardized extract.
Ashwagandha is also available in it’s full form, as ground root powder. The root powder has a bitter taste but it is traditionally consumed as a tea with milk. The root powder can lead to the same benefits, but it doesn’t offer the same potency as an extract. For instance, 500mg of root powder will not provide the same benefits of 500mg of an Ashwagandha extract.
What Dose Should I Take for Anxiety?
Before starting anything, consult with your doctor if you are taking medication, or if any of the warnings (at the end of this post) apply to you.
Start with a minimal dose to see how your body reacts. If well tolerated, you can increase the Ashwagandha dosage after a few weeks to enhance the results. Most studies measuring the effectiveness of Ashwagandha for anxiety used doses ranging from 200-600mg of high concentration extract per day.
As you would expect, when the dose increased, the results increased as well. You’ll find that most supplements will have a serving size similar to the dosage range above. This is always a good gauge since not all supplements are created equal.
Where Can I Buy Ashwagandha?
Most health inspired grocery store chains, such as Sprouts and Whole Foods carry ashwagandha.
There are many ashwagandha supplements options online, many with stellar reviews. You can also buy the root powder by the ounce to mix with food, milk, or your favorite smoothie.
Ashwagandha supplements with root powder and ashwagandha extracts are the most common form. They often range from 200 mg to 1,000 mg of ashwagandha root per serving, though the potency and effectiveness will vary from product to product. Learn more about our favorite Ashwagandha extracts here.
Other supplements such as Calm Now, mix ashwagandha with B-vitamins and other herbs to reduce stress and anxiety. Read our Calm Now review here.
Pregnancy concerns: Ashwagandha is not safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women. It has abortifacient properties which may lead to miscarriage. While concerns are based on very high doses, it’s not worth the risk.
Hyperthyroidism: According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, ashwagandha may intensify hyperthyroidism. Many have differing viewpoints, but it’s fair to say, be careful if you have hyperthyroidism.
Medications: Ashwagandha is a mild central nervous system depressant, so it may interact with alcohol, anti-anxiety drugs or sedatives. If you are under treatment for any medical or psychiatric problems or take any prescription medications, talk with your doctor before taking ashwagandha.
When in doubt, always listen to your body (and Doctor).