Ashwagandha, also known as Indian ginseng, poison gooseberry or Indian winter cherry, is known to be a “broad-spectrum remedy” that has positive effects on many bodily systems, including the immune, neurological, endocrine and reproductive systems. What does the latest research tell us about ashwagandha benefits?
This powerful herb can help a wide range of conditions and symptoms, such as anxiety, restlessness, high blood pressure and fatigue. So if you’re looking to increase your energy, improve your mood and fight the effects of aging, what is the proper ashwagandha dosage?
Based on factors like your current health, age, the severity of your symptoms and how familiar with taking adaptogen herbs you are, ashwagandha dosage recommendations can vary considerably. When it comes to all herbal remedies, it’s best to start “low and slow.” This way you can safely test your reaction and determine the dose that works best.
What Ashwagandha Is Used For?
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera dunal) is considered an “adaptogen herb” in the Solanaceae/nightshade plant family. Adaptogens are defined as natural substances in herbal medicine that are considered to help the body adapt to stress and to exert a normalizing effect upon bodily processes. Additionally, ashwagandha is commonly used as an anxiolytic, or a substance that helps manage symptoms of anxiety.
In Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha has been used for more than 2,500 years for its thyroid-modulating, neuroprotective, anti-anxiety, antidepressant and anti-inflammatory properties. Some of the many uses for ashwagandha include:
- Helping decrease inflammation and protect against oxidative damage
- Acting as a natural stress reliever, such as by helping maintain homeostasis even in moments of emotional or physical stress
- Lowering cortisol levels (considered one of the body’s main stress hormones)
- Balancing thyroid hormones
- Strengthening the immune system after illness
- Enhancing stamina and physical performance and building muscle strength
- Treating adrenal fatigue
- Improving sleep quality
- Reducing anxiety and depression
- Reducing brain cell degeneration
- Normalizing blood sugar and helping to protect against diabetes
- Lowering cholesterol and triglycerides
- Potentially helping prevent heart disease, stroke and cancer
- Boosting fertility, including by improving sperm count in males
- Managing symptoms of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
How does ashwagandha work to promote health and fight the effects of chronic stress? Many of the herb’s medicinal properties — including its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects — are due to the presence of protective compounds called withanolides, a group of steroidal lactones, such as withaferin A, withanolide D and withanone. Additionally, ashwagandha has been found to contain many other health-promoting substances, including flavonoids, catalase, superoxide dismutase, glutathione, alkaloids, amino acids, sterols, tannins and lignans.
Average Ashwagandha Dosage Recommendations
Ashwagandha supplements come in extract, capsule and powder forms. Many different parts of the plant are used to make herbal remedies, including the roots, leaves, seeds, flowers, stem, fruit and bark.
Now that you know the main reasons that ashwagandha is taken, you’re probably wondering: What dosage of ashwagandha should I take? Ashwagandha dosage recommendations vary depending on the condition being treated.
In order to determine how concentrated a product is, you want to look at the withanolide content. It should range from 1 percent to 10 percent (some feel that products with at least 2.5 percent withanolides are most effective). A good-quality supplement should include this information, and many will also be produced with “gold-star standards,” which guarantee you get a product high in withanolides. The higher the withanolide content, the stronger the effects of the supplement.
Like with other herbs and supplements, it’s best to start with a low dose of ashwagandha and then gradually increase your dosage as needed. What is considered a low dosage of ashwagandha?
Most experts recommend starting with a dose of about 300 to 500 milligrams per day of ashwagandha extract, with withanolides in the range of 5 percent to 10 percent. A full dose of ashwagandha would be between 1,000–1,500 milligrams per day of extract.
If you choose to take ashwagandha dried root instead of extract, a typical dosage is about three to six grams per day.
Some people may choose to supplement with even higher doses, particularly if working under the guidance of a naturopathic practitioner or health care provider. A high but typically safe dose of ashwagandha can be up to 6,000 milligrams per day. However, around 1,250 milligrams is a safer dosage to experiment with, since this amount has been shown to be safe in studies. In some instances, lower ashwagandha doses ranging about 100 to 250 milligrams per day have also been shown to be helpful for strengthening the immune system.
In terms of ashwagandha dosage timing, most people choose to take divided doses, such as by taking smaller doses two to three times per day. If you choose to take a full dose all at once (usually in the range of 300–500 mg of a root extract) it’s recommended you take the herb with meals, ideally in the morning with breakfast.
Ashwagandha Dosage for Particular Issues/Conditions
What dosage of ashwagandha should you take for anxiety? According to Psychology Today, the typical ashwagandha dosage for anxiety is about 300 milligrams of concentrated extract, taken once or twice per day. Ashwagandha usually needs to be taken for about 60 days before its effects are fully felt.
Here are other ashwagandha dosage recommendations for common conditions and symptoms:
- Ashwagandha dosage for balancing testosterone and supporting male fertility: between 300 milligrams of root extract twice daily to 5,000 milligrams/day.
- Ashwagandha dosage for thyroid health/fighting hypothyroidism: 300 milligrams of root extract taken two to three times daily.
- Ashwagandha dosage for sleep: starting at 300 milligrams, taken one to two times per day.
- Ashwagandha dosage for fertility and hormonal balance: up to 5,000 milligrams/day.
- Ashwagandha dosage for arthritis symptoms and reducing inflammation: starting at 250–500 milligrams/day.
- Ashwagandha dosage for muscle growth: about 500–600 milligrams/day.
- Ashwagandha dosage for cognitive health and memory: about 300 milligrams, taken two to three times per day.
- Ashwagandha dosage for fighting effects of chemotherapy: about 2,000 milligrams/day.
Risks and Side Effects
Although it’s usually well-tolerated and generally considered to be a “gentle” herbal supplement, some possible side effects of ashwagandha may include upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea and other symptoms of indigestion. It’s also possible that ashwagandha may cause hormonal changes, potentially making issues like like hyperthyroidism or high testosterone in females worse.
In order to prevent potential side effects from ashwagandha, slowly increase your dosage as you watch for any negative reactions. If you take medications, before starting to take herbal supplements always discuss any potential interactions or concerns with your health care provider.
Research shows that ashwagandha is NOT necessarily safe for and should be avoided by:
- Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
- People using diabetes medications, blood pressure medications, medications that suppress the immune system, sedatives or medications for thyroid problems
- Anyone being treated for hyperthyroidism, unless under the supervision of a doctor
- Anyone with autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, unless working with a doctor
- People undergoing surgery that requires anesthesia
It’s also recommended that ashwagandha not be mixed with alcohol, mood-altering drugs or sedatives, since it can increase drowsiness and causes mood alterations.