Ashwagandha: Uses, Benefits, Side effects

Science-based Benefits of Ashwagandha


Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is one of the most powerful herbs in Ayurvedic healing. 

This ancient remedy has remarkable stress-relieving properties, and stands shoulder to shoulder with some of the most potent drugs used to treat depression and anxiety.

This healing remedy is native to India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. It is now being grown in other regions including the United States.

Ashwagandha helps the body adapt to both mental and physical stress.

Although used as a broad spectrum remedy in India for centuries, ashwagandha has only recently been studied in a laboratory setting .

Some Quick Facts:

Withanolides are the most active compounds in ashwagandha. 

AIWO Ashwagandha contains 35% Withanolides, the highest concentration that can be found in supplements

AIWO Ashwagandha is formulated with SHODEN technology, which maintains bioavailability of the molecule in the stomach acids.

What are the active compounds present in ashwagandha?

The biologically active chemical constituents are alkaloids (isopelletierine and anaferine), steroidal lactones (withanolides and withaferins), and saponins (sitoindoside VII and VIII).

Like other plants, ashwagandha also contains terpenoids, flavonoids, tannins, phenols, and resins.


What are the benefits of ashwagandha?

  1. Relieves stress
  2. Boosts brain health: memory and cognition
  3. Anti-depressant
  4. Improves male fertility
  5. Aids weight management
  6. Improves heart health
  7. Relieves pain

Ashwagandha improves cognitive function. Glycowithanolides, one of the many compounds found in this herb, reduces cortisol. Overall energy levels are enhanced through optimizing mitochondrial function.

In a clinical trial of 150 men, 5 g/day of ashwagandha increased levels of testosterone and luteinizing hormone while reducing FSH and prolactin levels. It also improved sperm count and mobility .

Ashwagandha root extract can be used for body weight management in adults. 600 mg/day reduced food cravings, reactive eating, and body weight in a study with 52 people .

Quick Fact: Supplementation of 600 mg/day ashwagandha root during resistance weight training decreased body fat percentage and increased muscle strength in a study with 57 people .

Ashwagandha is also an effective pain reliever.


The typical recommended dose of Ashwagandha is 175 – 350 mg per day. However, dosage depends on specific needs as indicated below

Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India recommends 3 – 6 grams daily of standard ground ashwagandha powder.

Quick Fact: Up to 350 mg of ashwagandha extract per day is considered safe. Most people may get all the benefits they need with 350 mg.

AIWO  Recommendation: Ashwagandha Extract (35% withanolides) 170 mg per day

How is ashwagandha used?

The fresh roots are sometimes boiled in milk prior to drying to remove undesirable constituents .

Milk supplemented with ashwagandha reportedly increases body weight in malnourished children.

When given to nursing mothers, ashwagandha is thought to thicken and increase the nutrition of breast milk .

Ashwagandha root is used as a nutrient and health restorative agent among postpartum ladies.

Which are the commonly used parts of ashwagandha?

  1. Roots
  2. Leaves
  3. Seeds
  4. Berries
  5. Stem
  6. Bark

The roots are regarded as a tonic, aphrodisiac, narcotic, diuretic, antiparasitic, astringent, and stimulant .

The leaves are recommended for fever and painful swelling. 

The seeds are antiparasitic while the flowers are used as an astringent, diuretic, and aphrodisiac and have purifying/detoxifying effects .

The berries and tender leaves are applied externally to tumors, tubercular glands, carbuncles, and ulcers. Other useful parts are the stemfruit, and bark .

What are the commonly available forms of Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is available in many forms, such as powder, capsules, pills, or essential oil. It can also be made into a tea or ointment using honey or ghee.

Safety And Side Effects

Is ashwagandha safe to consume?

Ashwagandha is generally safe when taken in the recommended dosage range.

Ashwagandha is non-toxic at moderate doses.  Large doses of ashwagandha can cause abdominal discomfort and diarrhea.

Which is the most serious side effect of ashwagandha?

Hyperthyroidism is a potential serious side effect of ashwagandha.

Ashwagandha may also possibly cause abnormal/excessive facial hair in women.

Is ashwagandha safe for everyone?

Pregnant women are usually advised to not take ashwagandha as it could lead to miscarriage. Individuals who are due for surgery are also advised to cease taking ashwagandha supplements.

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