Withania somnifera (generic name)
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Adults (over 18 years old)
There is no proven effective dose for ashwagandha in adults. Various preparations are commercially available, including capsules, powders, teas, tinctures, decoctions and multi-herb formulas.
In capsule form, 1-6 grams daily of the whole herb has been used. As a powder, 3 grams of powder taken two times daily in boiled warm milk, have been used. A tea has been made by simmering/boiling 1 part root in 10 parts water for 15-30 minutes and taken twice daily in the amount of 1/2 to 1 ounce at a time. 1-6 grams daily of the whole herb in tea form has been used. Tinctures or fluid extracts have been dosed at 2-4 milliliters, taken 3 times daily. Tinctures may contain high concentrations of alcohol. As a milk decoction, 5 teaspoons of dried herb in 1 cup boiling liquid, taken as 2-3 cups per day with raw sugar or honey, has been used. As multi-herb formulas, 3-12 grams have been used in combination with other herbs.
Injected use is not recommended as human data are lacking.
Children (under 18 years old)
Overall, there is insufficient evidence available to recommend use of ashwagandha in children. Children 8-12 years-old have been given 2 grams daily in milk for 60 days with no toxicity reported in one trial. In Ayurveda, ashwagandha is considered acceptable to give to debilitated children, however data from clinical trials is lacking.
SafetyDISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
Avoid if sensitive or allergic to ashwagandha products or any of their ingredients. Dermatitis (allergic skin rash) was reported in three of 42 patients in one ashwagandha trial.
Side Effects and Warnings
There are few reports of adverse effects associated with ashwagandha, although there are scant human trials using ashwagandha, and most do not report the doses or standardization/preparation used.
Ashwagandha may cause sedation, possible life-threatening respiratory depression, decrease blood pressure and cause abnormal heart rhythms. Ashwagandha may cause diarrhea. Nausea and abdominal pain have also been reported. Theoretically, irritation of mucous and serous membranes may occur, and ashwagandha should be avoided in peptic ulcer disease.
Ashwagandha has been reported to possess diuretic properties, and kidney lesions may occur. Ashwagandha may stimulate thyroid function and increase T4 levels, possibly increasing risk of hyperthyroidism. Ashwagandha may also possess androgenic (testosterone-like) properties, based on rat evidence of increased testicular weight and spermatogenesis, as well as decreased serum FSH and testosterone levels.
Ashwagandha may stimulate red and white blood cell production, and increase platelet count, although there is limited study in these areas and mechanism is unknown. Ashwagandha is rich in iron.
Ashwagandha may possess immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effects.
Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
Ashwagandha is not recommended due to a lack of available scientific evidence. Ashwagandha may cause abortions.