Does Ashwagandha Have Side Effects?

Updated on August 12, 2023
 by — reviewed by Jason Williams, PhD (Contributor: George Collins / Editor: Yoko Hill)

Does Ashwagandha have side effects?

Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera, is an adaptogenic herb that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. It is thought to have various health benefits, including stress relief, anxiety reduction, and insomnia treatment.

While Ashwagandha is considered safe for most people, like any other supplement or medication, it may have potential side effects that need to be taken into consideration.

But, what are the possible side effects of Ashwagandha?

In this article, we will share what common side effects to look out for, as well as safety measures for optimal health whilst using Ashwagandha.

Understanding Ashwagandha and Its Uses

Ashwagandha is a small shrub native to India and North Africa and has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years due to its medicinal properties. This ancient Indian practice focuses on holistic healing and balancing the mind, body, and spirit.

Not only does Ashwagandha extract help relieve anxiety and stress, but these supplements also provide many other health benefits when used correctly and consistently.

If you, like most, are impacted by today's fast-paced society, then 100% natural Ashwagandha supplements could be the ultimate ''chill pill'' you need. These supplements are manufactured in FDA-approved facilities to ensure the best quality and safety of use.

Here are some key potential health benefits of Ashwagandha:

  1. Stress Relief: Ashwagandha has been shown to reduce the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, in the body. By balancing cortisol levels, it can help alleviate feelings of stress and promote a sense of calmness.(1)
  2. Anxiety Reduction: Ashwagandha has anxiety-reducing properties and can help manage symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. It works by modulating neurotransmitters in the brain and promoting relaxation. By reducing anxiety, Ashwagandha promotes well-being and relaxation.  
  3. Insomnia Treatment: Ashwagandha may aid in improving sleep quality and reducing insomnia symptoms. It has a calming effect on the body and mind, promoting restful sleep and reducing sleep disturbances.
  4. Immune Support: Ashwagandha has immune-boosting properties that can help strengthen the body's defenses against infections and diseases. It supports the immune system by balancing the immune response and promoting overall health. This means Ashwagandha could help prevent illness and boost vitality.(2)
  5. Anti-inflammatory Effects: Ashwagandha contains compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce inflammation and pain in the body. This makes it beneficial for individuals with inflammatory conditions like arthritis.(3)
  6. Cognitive Function: Ashwagandha has been found to enhance cognitive function and improve memory. It can help boost mental clarity, focus, and overall brain health.(4)
  7. Energy and Vitality: Ashwagandha is believed to increase energy levels and improve physical performance. It can help reduce fatigue and enhance stamina, making it popular among athletes and individuals looking to improve their energy levels.
  8. Hormonal Balance: Ashwagandha has been used to regulate hormones and support reproductive health. It may help balance hormones in the body and improve fertility in both men and women. It has been known to boost testosterone levels by up to 14.7%.(5)
  9. Anti-aging Properties: Ashwagandha is considered an anti-aging herb due to its ability to reduce oxidative stress and promote cellular regeneration. It may help slow down the aging process and improve overall vitality.(6)
  10. Mood Enhancement: Ashwagandha has mood-enhancing effects and may help alleviate symptoms of depression. It can improve mood and promote a sense of well-being.

Note: These positive benefits are attributed to quality products, responsible dosages, correct usage, and consistency. 

Potential Side Effects of Ashwagandha

While Ashwagandha is considered safe for most people when taken as directed, it may have potential side effects. It is essential to be aware of these possible benefits and risks before incorporating an extract of Withania somnifera into your routine, like any herbal supplement or medication. 

Some key side effects of Ashwagandha include: 

  • Gastrointestinal Issues: Some individuals may experience gastrointestinal issues such as upset stomach, nausea, or diarrhea when taking Ashwagandha. These symptoms are usually mild and temporary, and they typically resolve once the supplementation is discontinued.
  • Headaches: In rare cases, individuals may experience headaches as a side effect of Ashwagandha. If you develop persistent or severe headaches while taking Ashwagandha, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider.
  • Sleepiness: Ashwagandha has sedative properties and may cause drowsiness or sleepiness in some individuals, particularly when taken in combination with other sedative medications. If you experience excessive drowsiness, it is advisable to avoid driving or operating heavy machinery.
  • Allergic Reactions: While rare, allergic reactions to ashwagandha can occur. These reactions may include skin rashes, itching, inflammation, chest pain, dizziness, headache, and difficulty breathing. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to discontinue ashwagandha use and seek immediate medical attention.

It is essential to note that some individuals may experience unique side effects or interactions with specific medications or medical conditions, especially when it comes to large doses of Ashwagandha. 

Remember, Ashwagandha is not suitable for everyone. It should be avoided by pregnant women, as it may have abortifacient effects and potentially induce miscarriage or premature birth. Individuals with thyroid conditions or taking thyroid medications should also exercise caution, as Ashwagandha may affect thyroid hormone levels.

Lastly, Ashwagandha has immunostimulating properties, so individuals with autoimmune diseases or taking immunosuppressant drugs should consult with their healthcare provider before using Ashwagandha.

So, is Ashwagandha safe?

The answer is yes.

However, while Ashwagandha is safe for short-term and long-term use, it is important to be aware of potential side effects in order to understand the duration of use that works best for your lifestyle.

Those who use Ashwagandha for longer periods of time and with larger doses need to be aware of the potential for mild side effects.

Serious Side Effects

While rare, there are a few serious side effects associated with Ashwagandha that may require medical attention.

These possible side effects of Withania somnifera include:

  • Allergic reactions: Although uncommon, some individuals may experience an allergic reaction to Ashwagandha. Signs of an allergic reaction may include hives, swelling of the face or throat, difficulty breathing, or chest tightness. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.
  • Possible impact on thyroid function: Ashwagandha has been found to affect thyroid function in some individuals. If you have an existing thyroid condition or are taking medication for thyroid-related issues, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before taking Ashwagandha.
  • Rapid heartbeat: Ashwagandha may cause an increased heart rate in some individuals. If you experience a rapid or irregular heartbeat while taking Ashwagandha, it is advisable to discontinue use and consult a healthcare professional.
  • Severe rash: In rare cases, Ashwagandha may cause a severe rash or skin reaction. If you develop a rash or any skin abnormalities after taking Ashwagandha, seek medical attention immediately.

Factors Influencing Side Effects

The occurrence and severity of side effects may vary depending on several factors, including:

  • Dosage: Taking higher doses of Ashwagandha may increase the risk of experiencing side effects. It is recommended to start with a low dose and gradually increase if necessary.
  • Individual health status: Each person's body reacts differently to supplements and medications. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking other medications, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before taking Ashwagandha.
  • Interaction with other medications: Ashwagandha may interact with certain medications. It is essential to inform your healthcare provider about all the medications you are taking to avoid any potential interactions or adverse effects.
  • Efficacy of Ashwagandha: Some retailers do not stock premium-grade Ashwagandha products, and this may lead to unwanted side effects being experienced, Always source your vitamins and medications from reliable sources to ensure your safety.

Safety Measures and Recommendations

To ensure safe and effective use of Ashwagandha, here are some safety measures and recommendations:

  1. Consult a healthcare professional: Before starting any new supplement, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking medications.
  2. Start with a low dose: To minimize the risk of side effects, start with a low dose of Ashwagandha and gradually increase if needed.
  3. Monitor for side effects: Pay attention to how your body responds to Ashwagandha. If you experience any concerning side effects, discontinue use and seek medical advice.


While Ashwagandha is considered safe and well-tolerated, it may have potential side effects, albeit rarely.

It is important to be aware of these side effects and take necessary precautions when incorporating Ashwagandha into your routine. By using your Ashwagandha supplements correctly, you will avoid negative side effects and get the best out of this ancient and potent medicine! 

By consulting with a healthcare professional and monitoring your body's response, you can safely enjoy the potential benefits of this popular adaptogenic herb.