Does Ashwagandha Help with Anxiety?

Updated on August 11, 2023
 by — reviewed by Jason Williams, PhD (Contributor: George Collins / Editor: Yoko Hill)
does ashwagandha reduce stress and anxiety

Does Ashwagandha really help with anxiety?

In today's fast-paced and demanding world, stress and anxiety have become prevalent mental health concerns. 

Many people are seeking natural and alternative methods to manage their anxiety and improve their overall well-being. 

One such method that has gained significant attention is the use of Ashwagandha, an Ayurvedic herb known for its potential benefits in reducing anxiety and stress. 

In this article, we will delve into the connection between Ashwagandha and anxiety management, exploring its potential effectiveness and how it can be used!

Understanding Ashwagandha and Its Uses

Ashwagandha, scientifically known as Withania somnifera, is an herb that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years because of its powerful health benefits.

It is categorized as an adaptogen, a natural and medicinal substance that helps the body adapt to stress and promotes overall balance. Due to its various benefits, it's considered one of the best natural nootropics available on the market.

Here is a brief breakdown of some of the most notable benefits of Ashwagandha:

  1. Reduces Stress: Ashwagandha, an adaptogenic herb, helps control mediators of stress and reduce cortisol levels. It has been found that it can significantly reduce perceived stress.
  2. Improves Physical Performance: Ashwagandha has been found to enhance physical performance, including strength and endurance. It can also increase maximum oxygen consumption (VO2 max), important for athletes and non-athletes alike.
  3. Supports Mental Health: Ashwagandha may help manage symptoms of depression and anxiety. Research suggests that it could improve cognitive functioning, memory, and reaction time in certain populations.
  4. Boosts Testosterone Levels: Ashwagandha has shown potential benefits for male fertility by increasing testosterone levels by up to 14.7%.(1) It has also been shown to potentially boost sperm concentration and motility in men with infertility issues.
  5. Manages Blood Sugar Levels: Limited evidence suggests that Ashwagandha may help lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity in people with diabetes or prediabetes.
  6. Reduces Inflammation: Ashwagandha contains compounds that have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body, which may have beneficial effects on inflammatory conditions.
  7. Promotes Restful Sleep: Taking Ashwagandha supplements can improve overall sleep quality and help individuals feel more alert upon waking. It is especially beneficial for individuals with insomnia.

While Ashwagandha has numerous potential benefits, it is important to note that more research is needed to establish the optimal dosage and form for different conditions. Always source your products from reputable and reliable retailers in order to avoid unwanted side effects. 

Did you know? 

The raw material extracted from the root is what gave this plant its most popular name, Ashwagandha. It gained a reputation for making users feel as if they have gained the vigor, strength, and power of a horse. That is how it got the first part of the name, “Ashwa”, which means ''horse'' in ancient Sanskrit.

The second part, “gandha,” translates to ''fragrance''. This refers to the unique, mildly bitter smell of the fresh roots of this Ayurvedic herb. Additionally, it's also called Indian Winter cherry or Indian Ginseng in some cultures.

Ashwagandha and Anxiety: Does It Help?

Yes, Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is recognized for its potential to alleviate anxiety. Studies, including one with 58 participants, have shown that taking 250 or 600 mg of Ashwagandha extract for 8 weeks can significantly lower stress and cortisol levels, a hormone associated with stress.(2) Therefore, the link between Ashwagandha and anxiety management lies in its ability to regulate the body's stress response.

When we experience anxiety, our body releases the stress hormone cortisol, which has negative effects on our mood, sleep, and overall well-being. This is why cortisol is considered a biomarker to assess the severity of mental disorders.(3)

Additionally, Ashwagandha may affect the production and regulation of neurotransmitters like serotonin and GABA, which play crucial roles in mood enhancement and anxiety reduction.(4)

Research studies have demonstrated the potential effectiveness of Ashwagandha in managing anxiety symptoms. One study found that Ashwagandha extract significantly reduced anxiety levels on the stress-assessment scales compared to a placebo group.(5)

Its adaptogenic properties, along with its ability to regulate stress hormones and neurotransmitters, make it an intriguing natural option for anxiety relief.

Are you wondering if all these relaxing effects may decrease your mood and your energy levels?

Think again! Ashwagandha is one of the most versatile herbal nootropics and also promotes serotonin release.(6) By doing this, it actually stimulates vitality and boosts your energy levels.

How to Use Ashwagandha for Anxiety Management

Ashwagandha can be consumed in various forms, including capsules, powders, and teas for stress management. 

The most effective and common form is Ashwagandha supplements as capsules, which provide a convenient and standardized, correct dosage of high-quality extract of Withania somnifera.

It is not considered a prescription medication, so you can purchase it over the counter and begin to reap the rewards of its various health benefits today! 

The recommended dosage of Ashwagandha for anxiety can vary depending on factors such as individual sensitivity, the severity of anxiety symptoms, and the form of Ashwagandha being used.

However, we have put together a general guideline that you can use to ensure safe usage:

  • Capsules: A typical dosage range for ashwagandha capsules is 250-600 mg per day. It's best to start with the lowest effective dose and gradually increase if needed. Consult with a healthcare professional for personalized dosage recommendations.
  • Powder: If using ashwagandha powder, a suggested dosage is 1-2 grams per day, divided into two doses. The powder can be mixed with water, juice, or a smoothie for easier consumption.
  • Tea: If opting for ashwagandha tea, steeping 1-2 teaspoons of dried ashwagandha roots or leaves in hot water for 10-15 minutes is recommended. Adjust the dosage based on personal preference and tolerance.

When using Ashwagandha for anxiety, it is recommended to start with a lower dosage and gradually increase as needed. Typical dosages range from 250mg to 600mg per day.

You may be wondering, does Ashwagandha calm you right away?

Some users may experience immediate relaxation effects from the use of Withania Somnifera, while others may not. It's important to note that individual responses to Ashwagandha may vary due to factors like tolerability, diet, metabolic rate, and other lifestyle factors.

It can take up to several weeks of consistent use in order to experience the full impact of its benefits.

Benefits of Reduced Anxiety

Now that we understand Ashwagandha's effect on our central nervous system through managing neurotransmitters and cortisol levels, let's discuss how decreased anxiety levels may improve your life. 

Here are some of the most notable benefits of reduced stress and anxiety:

  1. Improved Mental Health: Anxiety can take a toll on your mental well-being, leading to increased stress, worries, and negative thoughts. By reducing anxiety, you can experience improved mental health and a greater sense of well-being. 
  2. Enhanced Physical Health: Anxiety not only affects your mental health, but can also impact your physical health. Chronic anxiety has been linked to increased risks of high blood pressure, diabetes, and arthritis. By reducing anxiety through exercise, you not only improve your mental health but also decrease the risk of these health problems.
  3. Increased Self-Confidence: Meeting exercise goals, even small ones, can boost your self-confidence. As you engage in physical activity and see improvements in your fitness level or appearance, you'll feel more confident about yourself and your abilities. This increased self-confidence can have a positive impact on various areas of your life.
  4. Social Interaction: Exercise and physical activity provide opportunities to meet and socialize with others. Whether it's joining a fitness class, going for a walk with a friend, or participating in team sports, interacting with others can improve your mood and increase your sense of connection. Even a simple smile or greeting while walking in your neighborhood can help boost your mood.
  5. Healthy Coping Strategy: Engaging in exercise and physical activity as a means of managing anxiety is a healthy coping strategy. Instead of turning to destructive habits like excessive drinking or dwelling on negative thoughts, exercise offers a productive outlet for managing stress and anxiety. It gives you a sense of control over your emotions and empowers you to take positive steps toward improving your mental health.

Overall, reducing anxiety with alternative medicine and natural nootropic options, such as Ashwagandha, provides numerous health benefits for both your mental and physical well-being.

Common Side Effects of Ashwagandha

When using Ashwagandha for anxiety, it is important to be aware of potential side effects, precautions, and interactions to ensure safe and effective use.

  • Upset Stomach: Taking high doses of Ashwagandha may cause stomach discomfort, diarrhea, or vomiting. If you experience these symptoms, it's best to reduce your dosage or discontinue use.
  • Allergic Reactions: Some individuals may be allergic to nightshade plants, to which Ashwagandha belongs. If you have a known allergy to nightshades, it's important to be cautious when using ashwagandha to avoid allergic reactions such as skin rashes, itching, inflammation, chest pain, or difficulty breathing.
  • Thyroid Interference: Ashwagandha has been shown to affect thyroid hormone levels. If you have a thyroid condition, it's advisable to consult your doctor before taking Ashwagandha to ensure it won't aggravate your condition.
  • Not Recommended for Pregnant or Nursing Women: Due to the limited research on the safety of ashwagandha during pregnancy and lactation, it's recommended that pregnant or nursing women avoid taking ashwagandha to err on the side of caution.
  • Potential Drug Interactions: Certain drugs, such as sedatives, antidepressants, and medications for anxiety, may interact with Ashwagandha and increase their effects. This can lead to excessive sedation or sleepiness.
  • Immune Stimulation: Ashwagandha has immune-modulating effects, which may benefit healthy individuals. However, for those with certain autoimmune conditions, ashwagandha may have unwanted side effects related to the immune system. If you have an autoimmune disorder, consult your doctor before taking ashwagandha.

Remember, while these side effects are possible, they are rare and occur in specific circumstances. Ashwagandha is typically safe and well-tolerated for both long-term and short-term usage.(7)

Conclusion: Is Ashwagandha Good For Anxiety?

Ashwagandha can help with stress levels and has shown promise in addressing and reducing symptoms of anxiety disorder. It has been shown to reduce cortisol levels, leading to a calmer and more relaxed state.

On top of that - it's 100% natural and does not have any serious health risks associated with its short-term or long-term use.

Ashwagandha may be the solution you're looking for in order to effectively manage your anxiety symptoms and stay on top of your game!

With its long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine and the growing body of research supporting its effectiveness, Ashwagandha is worth considering as part of a comprehensive approach to managing anxiety and promoting overall well-being. 

Remember, like any supplement or treatment, it is essential to use Ashwagandha responsibly and consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns or underlying medical conditions.