For more than three thousand years, practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine have relied on the rejuvenating properties of the herb ashwagandha. Because of its pungent, horse-like aroma, the herb’s root was given the Sanskrit name “ashva” meaning horse and “gandha” meaning smell.
As an adaptogen, ashwagandha aids the body in dealing with stress and maintaining homeostasis. The effects of ashwagandha on stress, anxiety, immunological function, blood sugar, and cognitive performance have all been studied and shown to be positive.
But how should ashwagandha be taken for these effects to kick in? The most popular preparations, dosing schedules, and times of day, as well as any potential adverse effects, are all discussed below.
Varieties of Ashwagandha
The most common forms of ashwagandha supplements include:
- Powdered root extract capsules: Extracts from the ashwagandha root are extracted and put into capsule form after being dried and powdered. This is the most common and easiest method of taking dietary supplements.
- Liquid tinctures: The medicinal ingredients in ashwagandha root are extracted into a powerful liquid tincture by soaking the root in alcohol. Adjusting the dosage of a tincture is simple.
- Tea: A tea can be prepared by boiling the dried root in water. Ashwagandha tea is a gentler option that yet preserves the natural flavor and benefits of the herb.
- Ashwagandha leaves: Ashwagandha is typically utilized for its root, but the leaves are also a popular addition to some supplements and beverages. Although similar to the root in composition, its strength is slightly different.
Ashwagandha is not prescribed to anyone at a specific dose. Dosage recommendations may vary from person to person based on characteristics such as age, weight, and the intended effect. General recommendations for dose size:
- Capsules: Ashwagandha’s active components, known as withanolides, are often taken in capsule form, with a usual dosage range being 500–1000 mg once or twice daily.
- Tinctures: It is common practice to take 30 drops (or 1-2 mL) of an alcohol-based tincture twice daily. Concentration is a potential factor in dosing.
- Tea: For a cup of tea with a moderate amount of flavor, use 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried herb per 8 ounces of water. Have one to three cups each day.
- Withania somnifera: Since withanolide concentrations are lower without extraction, whole root powder requires stronger doses to get the same effect. Common dosages range from 3 to 6 grams daily, taken in several smaller doses.
Dosage ranges should be started at the low end and increased gradually only if necessary. For specific recommendations on how much to take, talk to an Ayurvedic doctor or herbalist.
When to Take Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha’s optimal administration time is somewhat determined by the intended therapeutic effect:
- Morning: Take ashwagandha in the morning or early afternoon to boost your energy, vigor, and memory. This pattern is similar to ashwagandha’s natural diurnal rhythm.
- Nighttime: Take ashwagandha in the evening to help you wind down and get a good night’s rest. This substantiates the sedative effects of the plant.
- Between meals: Some people find that combining ashwagandha with meals causes stomach upset. Supplements and tinctures should be taken 30-60 minutes before or after eating.
- Fixed schedule: Maintain consistent levels of active substances on a regular frequency, such as twice daily, for general long-term use.
Consider how you feel before, during, and after taking ashwagandha to determine the best time of day to take it.
How Long to Take Ashwagandha
Most beneficial trials with ashwagandha employ a duration of usage between one and three months. Most healthy adults can safely take it for an extended period of time, although more studies are needed to confirm this.
Some general recommendations on ashwagandha timelines:
- Acute stress: Use for 1-2 weeks to manage episodes of higher stress, anxiety or insomnia.
- General wellness: Take regularly for 2-3 months, then cycle on and off as desired.
- Chronic conditions: Consult an Ayurvedic practitioner for guidance on long-term use for chronic health problems.
- Breaks between use: Take 1-2 week breaks regularly when using ashwagandha long-term or notice decreased efficacy over time.
Pay attention to how your body responds and make any necessary adjustments to the duration and cycles.
Safety and Side Effects
When used appropriately, ashwagandha poses no serious safety concerns. However, some people may experience these modest side effects:
- Gastrointestinal distress: Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea if taken on an empty stomach or in excessive amounts.
- Drowsiness: Drowsiness, weariness, and mild sedation are common at first, but subside after a few days.
- Hyperactivity: Paradoxically, this can cause some people to become overstimulated or restless.
- Interactions: May amplify effects of sedative medications or blood pressure lowering drugs.
Avoid use if you are pregnant unless your doctor tells you to. Before consuming ashwagandha, people with gastric ulcers, autoimmune illness, diabetes, or any other chronic condition should talk to their doctor.
Start with a low dose of ashwagandha and see how you react to it. If your reaction persists or you have any concerns, let your doctor know. Ashwagandha is a very safe therapeutic herb that can be used by most people when taken as directed.