Practitioners of Indian and Ayurvedic medicine have used ashwagandha for centuries to treat a wide array of ailments. Unlike many other herbs, researchers have studied the benefits of this herb extensively. The findings of this research indicate that the herb is truly effective with no known side effects.
Ashwagandha Safety Profile
Since ashwagandha is not a central nervous system stimulant, risks are mild (if any). This characteristic, along with the fact that the herb has been used in traditional medicine for centuries without any significant adverse reactions, indicate ashwagandha has an excellent safety profile. Of course, as with any herb, you should check with your doctor or healthcare practitioner before taking ashwagandha.
NIH Findings on Ashwagandha
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) published a 2015 study on ashwagandha in which no adverse effects were found. The study was conducted to investigate the efficacy and safety of ashwagandha root extract. The extract was administered in high-concentrations (HCARE) to healthy women. The conclusion states, "The lack of adverse effects suggests that the extract is safe to consume."
Buying from a reliable source and/or purchasing certified organically grown Ashwagandha ensures you are getting a quality product. Foreign countries don't necessarily have the same stringent laws as the United States for growing herbs, and you don't want to purchase ashwagandha, or any herb, that was grown in unfavorable or unhealthy conditions.
Side Effects of Ashwagandha
Due to the herb's characteristics and absence of ill effects over its long history of use, clinicians have done very few studies on ashwagandha side effects. No studies have turned up any concerning results.
Some conditions did arise in very few individuals, but the correlation between these conditions and potential side effects of consuming of the herb were too weak to make any substantiated claims. The possible side effects present in some participants of these studies were:
- Slight rise in body temperature after one week of use
- Gastrointestinal irritation
Individual reports have led to some unscientific observations of potential side effects. These claims are highly uncommon, and it can't be said for sure if consuming ashwagandha causes them:
Diseases and Possible Interactions
Herbalists do advise certain individuals to avoid this herb. Caution is recommended for those with the following conditions or situations:
- Diabetes: The herb could lower blood sugar, leading to interference with medications used to treat diabetes.
- Digestive disorders or ulcers: It can irritate your gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
- Low blood pressure: It might decrease blood pressure.
- Aut-immune diseases: Ashwagandha can activate an immune response.
- Surgery: Stop taking ashwagandha two weeks before surgery since it may possibly negatively interact with anesthesia and other medications.
- Pregnancy or breastfeeding: The herb's effects on an unborn child or nursing infant are unknown, so it is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.
Drugs and Ashwagandha Adverse Effects
There are no known adverse combinations of ashwagandha and any other herbs. However, drug interaction is a concern for any introduction of a new element, even an herb.
For example, ashwagandha is a potential sedative-hypnotic. As a result, it can theoretically increase the effects of other sedatives. According to Ayurveda Experience, the herb's phytochemicals, "synergistically promote a GABA-like activity in the brain," creating a very relaxed body response that's similar to sleeping pills.
Therefore, taking sedatives with ashwagandha is not recommended. This, and other types of drug interactions, can lead to harmful side-effects. That's why it is so important to speak with your healthcare professional before starting this, or any other, herbal therapy treatment.
Safely Used for Centuries
There is no evidence that ashwagandha has any side effects. Only anecdotal evidence and a few inconclusive studies suggest that the herb may or may not be linked to certain minor reactions and conditions. Adults and children alike have used the herb for centuries and it has posed no threat. However, numerous scientific studies have validated the herb's many benefits, which far outweigh the potential for side effects.