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Anxiety & Stress

Adaptogen 101: How to Take Ashwagandha for Stress Support

Roots and powder of Ashwagandha also known as Indian ginseng on wooden background

Written By: Emily Spring

ether you’re feeling more anxious than usual or looking to provide holistic support to your mind and body, herbal supplements to reduce cortisol levels are viable when it comes to a sustainable solution.

Ashwagandha, an age-old herbal supplement is somewhat of a holy grail when it comes to stress-fighting, health-promoting solutions. But understanding how and when to use Ashwagandha to reap each of its botanical benefits can be a quest in and of itself. 

In this guide, we’ll lead you through everything you need to know about Ashwagandha and explain the many benefits of Ashwagandha, how to take Ashwagandha, and how to use Ashwagandha to help you feel confident about what you’re putting in your body. 

Ashwagandha Benefits For Stress

Ashwagandha is an ancient herb that has been used for thousands of years in Indian medicine.1 In today’s society, while it has not been approved for medical use, it is used as a supplement and has been shown to have many benefits for some people.

The most common use for Ashwagandha today is for stress hormone support. It’s understandable: modern society is full of stressors. From workday responsibilities to political happenings, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. And while Ashwagandha can’t change the world we live in, it may help you feel a little less anxious about it in the meantime.

Does Ashwagandha Work?

It’s understandable to be skeptical about whether the Ashwagandha adaptogenic herb is effective at reducing stress. Since many people are experiencing more stress these days, we’re also seeing more chronic stress relief solutions than ever before. So why should we trust that Ashwagandha will work?

  • Exhibit 1 – In animal experiments, Ashwagandha has been shown to block stress pathways in the brains of rats thereby reducing their stress response.2

  • Exhibit 2 – In human experiments, Ashwagandha was shown to be effective in relieving stress when compared to the results of a placebo. It was also shown to reduce cortisol levels in people who took it relative to the group taking a placebo.3

So, there is scientific evidence that the Ashwagandha adaptogen can reduce stress in humans. However, it isn’t intended to treat anxiety or mental health disorders and should not take the place of any other medication. But, when taken as a supplement, Ashwagandha may be able to help you reduce your daily anxieties.

Easy to take Ashwagandha for Stress. Shop now!

Additional Ashwagandha Benefits

The most robust evidence in support of the benefits of Ashwagandha is related to how it helps reduce stress. However, it’s been used for thousands of years and has a plentiful accompaniment of benefits that support full-body wellness.

While the scientific evidence may not be as strong, there are several other potential Ashwagandha health benefits, including:

  • Joint support – Ashwagandha has been useful for some people as an anti-inflammatory and pain reducer. These benefits of this root extract make it appealing for people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and even heart disease.4

  • Weight loss – Simply being less anxious and stressed can have a lot of other beneficial effects on your mind and body. For example, some people have claimed that Ashwagandha helps with weight loss. Researchers hypothesize that people experience weight loss because the supplement reduces feelings of stress, which may also reduce the amount of stress-based eating that occurs throughout the day.5

  • Low cholesterol – Animal studies have shown that Ashwagandha can be effective in lowering cholesterol and triglycerides. Unfortunately, results have been less promising in human studies. Although, some people may experience some reduction in their cholesterol after taking Ashwagandha for a long period of time.6

  • High testosterone – In some men, Ashwagandha has been linked to an increase in testosterone levels. This can lead to increased sperm count, more muscle strength, and more muscle mass. It won’t replace exercise, but if it boosts testosterone, some men may see added benefits after adding Ashwagandha to their diets.7

  • Improved brain function – Animal research has shown that Ashwagandha may be effective in promoting antioxidant activity. This can lead to greater brain function including improved memory. This has led some people to believe that Ashwagandha may be useful in helping people suffering from degenerative brain diseases. However, these are serious diseases and it should be noted that even if Ashwagandha does provide some benefits in this area, it cannot replace high-quality medical care and treatment.8

  • Taking Ashwagandha

    Ashwagandha has numerous benefits. However, if you truly want to reap them, you must understand how to correctly use Ashwagandha. While methods have varied over the years, the four primary ways to use the herbal supplement are as follows:

    • Taking it as a paste
    • Grinding it into a fine Ashwagandha powder (Ashwagandha Churna) 
    • Applying it topically
    • Ingesting it orally

    These days, you will most likely find an Ashwagandha supplement on grocery store shelves in Ashwagandha tablet or Ashwagandha pill form, which should be taken daily for the best results.

    Ashwagandha Dosage

    There is no set dosage for Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha dosages can typically fall into a range from 250mg daily to up to 1500mg or more.

    If you’re just beginning to take Ashwagandha root powder, it’s probably best to start with a smaller dosage to make sure you don’t have side effects, then move up if needed. You can also talk to your doctor about the dosage or type of Ashwagandha capsule you are considering to make sure you don’t have any unintended interactions with anything else you’re taking. 

    Keep in mind, taking too much of the ayurvedic supplement could make you feel ill or lead to other side effects. Low and slow is the smartest way to go to find the best dosage for your body.

    Taking Ashwagandha as Part of a Blend

    While you can take Ashwagandha on its own, you may also decide it works best in combination with other supplements. This may mean taking multiple pills at once, or it may mean taking one supplement with multiple ingredients.

    To make it easy for you to reap the benefits of Ashwagandha with synergistic herbs, we combine the Ashwagandha plant, Albizia Bark and Flower, Avena Sativa, Holy Basil, L-theanine, and CBD into our Be Calm vegan capsules. The formula is created to modulate your stress response and keep you feeling your best. 

    Additionally, by combining Ashwagandha extract with other ayurvedic herb extracts and supplements you may experience more benefits to your holistic health. 

    When to Take Ashwagandha

    So you’ll be taking Ashwagandha root extract as a capsule, but how do you know when to take Ashwagandha? Is it better to take it in the morning or at night? Do you take it every day? And for how long?

    The good news is that there’s not any right or wrong answer. You can take Ashwagandha at any time so long as you are consistent.9 However, you may find that certain times of day come with more benefits for you.

    Taking Ashwagandha in the Morning

    For some, taking their supplements and vitamins in the morning just makes sense. However, there are many reasons why you might want to take Ashwagandha herb in the morning, rather than before bed:

    • Convenience – For most people, the morning is the time they are likely to be taking other supplements or medications. It’s easier to remember to take everything when you’re taking it all at the same time.

    • Morning pick-me-up – It is a good way to start your day. While Ashwagandha isn’t something that works immediately, it can still be a confidence boost to take it at the beginning of your day. It serves as a reminder that you’re doing something to help your mind and body.

    • Easy to remember – Taking the supplement in the morning means you don’t have to remember to take it later. Some days can be exhausting, and all you want to do at the end of the day is rip off your jeans, eat a delicious meal, and melt into the bed. Most likely, you’ll barely remember to brush your teeth, let alone take a supplement. As such, taking your pill early in the day ensures that you don’t forget it later on.

    Taking Ashwagandha at Night

    Conversely, there are several reasons why taking Ashwagandha at night may be more beneficial for you and your lifestyle:

    • You’re a night owl – Maybe other people get so wiped out they forget to do things before bed, but not you. If you’re a lot more likely to forget to take your supplement before you had your cup of morning coffee than before you turn down the sheets, incorporating it into your nighttime routine can help you take the supplement consistently.

    • You have trouble falling asleep – Ashwagandha may help you fall asleep. The calming effect of knowing that you’re taking something to help your anxiety may prove to be more soothing than a bedtime story.

    • You’re prone to an upset stomach – Taking Ashwagandha on an empty stomach may cause side effects. Upset stomach is one side effect people who take Ashwagandha may deal with. Taking it first thing in the morning, before you’ve eaten, may exacerbate this. As such, it may be helpful to take your supplement after a large meal to avoid stomach aches. 

    How Long Should I Take It For?

    Ashwagandha doesn’t work right away, unlike Rhodiola. You need to continue taking it for days, possibly weeks, to see how it interacts with your unique physiology. For your first regiment, be sure to take it for at least a month, or up to three months, before gauging its effects on your body. 

    Afterward, you can evaluate whether it’s working, whether you’re experiencing any side effects, and whether you want to continue taking the supplement.

    If you are interested in supplements with an immediate effect, read our blog post comparing Ashwagandha vs Rhodiola

    Side Effects of Ashwagandha

    Ashwagandha is safe for most people, and the side effects experienced are often not serious. When consuming Ashwagandha, the most common side effects are:

    • Upset stomach
    • Diarrhea 
    • Vomiting

    If you experience any of these symptoms, you may need to adjust to a lower dose or stop taking the supplement altogether. Additionally, Ashwagandha is not recommended for anyone who is pregnant or nursing a baby.

    If you’re taking medications, also be aware that Ashwagandha may react poorly with certain medications. Talk to your doctor before you start ingesting Ashwagandha, especially if you take:

    • Immunosuppressants
    • Antidiabetic drugs
    • Antihypertensive drugs
    • Sedatives
    • Thyroid hormones or have impaired thyroid function

    Plant People and You

    Ashwagandha supplementation has been used for thousands of years and continues to provide holistic benefits to our minds and bodies. 

    If you’re looking for a mind and spirit-lifting supplement you can trust, look no further than Plant People. We want you to feel good about using our products. That’s why we provide you with doctor-formulated, plant-based supplements that are supported by holistic science to help you feel your absolute best.

     

    Written by Emily Spring 

    Emily Spring is the Director of Marketing at Plant People. A longtime proponent of balanced living, she has enjoyed over 8 years driving growth in the lifestyle, health and wellness sectors with deep experience in functional solutions for optimizing anyone's everyday life.

    Reviewed by Gabe Kennedy

    Co-Founder of Plant People, Gabe Kennedy is an acclaimed chef and entrepreneur. Growing up in a house of healers and herbalists, he is passionate about the power of food as a tool for health, and actualized this passion and belief system into his company, Plant People. Named to Forbes 30 under 30 Gabe has shaped menus and cooked his way around the world with his mission to promote a more communal, green and healthy world.

     Gabe is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. You can learn more about his work at his website.

     

    Sources: 

    1. African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines. An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3252722/ 
    2. Healthline. 12 Proven Health Benefits of Ashwagandha. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-proven-Ashwagandha-benefits 
    3. NIH National Library of Medicine. A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of Ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23439798/ 
    4. Medical News Today. What are the benefits of Ashwagandha? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318407#_noHeaderPrefixedContent
    5. Sage Journals. Body Weight Management in Adults Under Chronic Stress Through Treatment With Ashwagandha Root Extract: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2156587216641830 
    6. Research Gate. Therapeutic uses of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) with a note on withanolides and its pharmacological actions. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260419415_Therapeutic_uses_of_Withania_somnifera_Ashwagandha_with_a_note_on_withanolides_and_its_pharmacological_actions 
    7. National Center for Biotechnology Information. An investigation into the stress-relieving and pharmacological actions of an ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6750292/ 
    8. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal) Root Extract in Improving Memory and Cognitive Functions. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28471731/ 
    9. Healthline. When Is the Best Time to Take Ashwagandha? https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/Ashwagandha-in-the-morning-or-night 

     

     

     

     

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