Withania Somnifera, more commonly known as Ashwagandha, is an adaptogen used in the ancient Ayurvedic sciences as a Rasayana or a tonic agent.
As the name suggests, adaptogens are medicinal herbs that help your overall physiology adapt to stress by strengthening it beforehand. Mainly found in Asia and Africa, the root extract of this plant has been shown to help with anxiety, stress, memory, sleep, and even cancer.
Yes, it does have certain drawbacks (especially when consumed more than the limit), like drowsiness, nausea, and diarrhea. However, it will be fine if you are cautious with the consumption amount.
Want to know more about the Withania Somnifera uses, benefits, side effects, and required dosage amounts? If yes, then let’s binge on.
Withania Somnifera Benefits
- Helps relieve stress and anxiety
- Improves memory and focus
- Improves sleep
- Works against inflammation
- Works as a sexual stimulant
- It may be helpful for patients with diabetes
Helps Relieve Stress and Anxiety
Withania Somnifera fights off the stress and anxiety in our bodies. It does that by reducing a stress hormone known as cortisol.
Although mainly associated with stress, the negative connotation of cortisol helps our body respond to danger.
However, many studies concluded that this has been pretty helpful in reducing the amount of stress and anxiety in participants.
Improves Memory and Focus
It helps improve your focus and cognition by circulating more oxygen through your lungs. Withania Somnifera improves social cognition, auditory-verbal working memory, and reaction times and can sometimes help against dementia.
Withania Somnifera doesn’t necessarily help change people’s sleep patterns, but it improves sleep quality significantly. According to a study conducted in 2013, Withania Somnifera has been proven to improve sleep quality in elderlies.
Works Against Inflammation
Inflammation is caused by the body’s immune system working against bacteria and viruses. Most of the time, it heals itself automatically. However, chronic pain can cause the body’s inflammatory responses to stop functioning.
According to studies, Withanolide Phytochemicals are a type of chemical that can significantly reduce inflammation in such cases. Withania Somnifera also contains Withanolide Phytochemicals, and its consumption has a similar effect.
Works as a Sexual Stimulant
Withania Somnifera has the power to reignite your sex life once again. It is especially beneficial, in this case, to the ladies. It gives you better arousal, orgasm, and lubrication and even fixes your mood.
Maybe Helpful for Patients with Diabetes
A chemical compound known as withaferin A (WA) found in Withania Somnifera has the ability to stimulate cells to take glucose from the bloodstream.
It significantly reduces blood sugar levels, hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), blood lipids, insulin, and oxidative stress markers.
How to Consume
Recommended consumption amounts will vary based on what you’re trying to treat. There does not seem to be a universally agreed-upon amount to take, but we can say that 1,000 mg is a safe threshold. Meanwhile, a 600-100 mg dosage has been known to be more beneficial to athletes.
As for the studies, most of them have used 250-600mg of dosage daily, resulting in various benefits.
However, Withania Somnifera can be primarily consumed in two ways, root powder or extract. Besides that, you can also put it in your tea or milkshake.
The Side Effects of Withania Somnifera
Withania Somnifera does have some side effects though most of them are mild and not resulting in extreme conditions for an average human. However, people with certain conditions should avoid consuming the adaptogen to prevent any possible reaction to it.
Possibly Harmful During Pregnancy
There haven’t been studies that look into the effects of Withania Somnifera on pregnant women.
Therefore, it is best to consult a doctor before consuming it during pregnancy. Things start to get complicated and confusing in terms of dosage as it is unclear what is a safe amount for a pregnant woman.
Might be Harmful to the Liver
Though we don’t know exactly how and what causes these, some studies have shown that commercial products containing Withania Somnifera have negatively affected people’s livers. It is possible that Withania Somnifera only reacts this way when in contact with unknown substances in commercial products.
We have spoken about Withania Somnifera’s sleep-inducing properties. It also causes people to feel drowsy. The effects of these are more apparent to people who are taking sedative drugs like benzodiazepines and barbiturates.
Stomach Upset, Nausea, and Diarrhea
Stomach upset, nausea and diarrhea seem to be the most common side effects of Withania Somnifera. Taking extremely large doses (6,000 mg of root powder or 1500 mg of root extract) can cause the reactions above.
May Cause Fever
Some people have reported being afflicted with fever after consuming the adaptogen. However, researchers are not sure exactly how this works. If you have a fever after taking Withania Somnifera, contact a doctor.
Harmful for People with Hyperthyroidism
If you have hyperthyroidism, you may want to avoid taking Withania Somnifera. As studies have shown, it causes unpleasant side effects for people with this condition.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Withania Somnifera affect a drug screening test?
No, it is not prohibited for army personnel and shouldn’t affect a drug screening test.
Is Withania Somnifera a hallucinogen?
Yes, Withania Somnifera does have some hallucinogenic effects.
Does Withania Somnifera cause weight gain?
Nope. No proven studies show that it causes weight gain. However, it can cause you to gain muscle mass.
Does Withania Somnifera help with hair loss?
It may stop hair fall as a side effect of less stress and anxiety, which are known major causes of hair fall.
Can Withania Somnifera change the levels of hormones in the body?
Yes, Withania Somnifera increases levels of thyroid hormone in the body. It also decreases levels of cortisol which is a stress hormone.
Now that you know about Withania Somnifera uses, benefits, side Effects, and more. You can now decide whether it is something you want to try or not. However, we believe it will be an astounding remedy, especially when you want to reduce stress and improve your sleep.
Without question, this might be a remedy worth including in your regular diet.
1. Salve, J., Pate, S., Debnath, K., & Langade, D. (2019). Adaptogenic and Anxiolytic Effects of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Healthy Adults: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Clinical Study. Cureus, 11(12). https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.6466
2. Choudhary, B., Shetty, A., & Langade, D. G. (2015). Efficacy of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera [L.] Dunal) in improving cardiorespiratory endurance in healthy athletic adults. Ayu, 36(1), 63-68. https://doi.org/10.4103/0974-8520.169002
3. Kelgane, S. B., Salve, J., Sampara, P., & Debnath, K. (2020). Efficacy and Tolerability of Ashwagandha Root Extract in the Elderly for Improvement of General Well-being and Sleep: A Prospective, Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study. Cureus, 12(2). https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.7083
4. Logie, E., & Berghe, W. V. (2020). Tackling Chronic Inflammation with Withanolide Phytochemicals—A Withaferin A Perspective. Antioxidants, 9(11). https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox9111107
5. Swati Dongre, Deepak Langade, Sauvik Bhattacharyya, “Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract in Improving Sexual Function in Women: A Pilot Study”, BioMed Research International, vol. 2015, Article ID 284154, 9 pages, 2015. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/284154
6. Gorelick, J., Rosenberg, R., Smotrich, A., Hanuš, L., & Bernstein, N. (2015). Hypoglycemic activity of withanolides and elicitated Withania somnifera. Phytochemistry, 116, 283-289. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phytochem.2015.02.029
7. Gorelick, J., Rosenberg, R., Smotrich, A., Hanuš, L., & Bernstein, N. (2015). Hypoglycemic activity of withanolides and elicitated Withania somnifera. Phytochemistry, 116, 283-289. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phytochem.2015.02.029
8. Bonilla, D. A., Moreno, Y., Gho, C., Petro, J. L., Odriozola-Martínez, A., & Kreider, R. B. (2021). Effects of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) on Physical Performance: Systematic Review and Bayesian Meta-Analysis. Journal of Functional Morphology and Kinesiology, 6(1). https://doi.org/10.3390/jfmk6010020
9. Panda S, Kar A. Changes in Thyroid Hormone Concentrations after Administration of Ashwagandha Root Extract to Adult Male Mice. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. 1998;50(9):1065-1068. doi:10.1111/j.2042-7158.1998.tb06923.x
About Jordan kally, MA, CSCS