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Does Ashwagandha Have Side Effects?

Ashwagandha is considered to be one of the most powerful herbal supplements available and it is believed to have multiple health benefits.

However, as with all medicines whether herbal or prescription, there can be some side effects from taking Ashwagandha.

Ashwagandha root, powder, and capsules

    Side Effects Of Ashwagandha

    For the most part, it’s safe to use Ashwagandha for up to three months continuously as long as you aren’t taking too much. Anywhere between 300mg - 1500mg per day is acceptable, depending on how your body has adapted to it.

    The issues start when you exceed this recommended dosage. If you do, especially when you first start taking Ashwagandha, you may suffer from any of the side effects listed below:

    Vomiting & Diarrhea

    Taking too much Ashwagandha can cause diarrhea or vomiting as your body tries to process the influx of vitamins compounds and minerals you’ve fed it.

    These effects can also occur if you take Ashwagandha over a long period of time. This is why it’s recommended that you take a four-week break around every 3 months.

    Drowsiness

    Ashwagandha is believed to lower our cortisol levels and help us feel calmer. However, for this reason, taking too much can lead to drowsiness. You should also avoid taking Ashwagandha alongside any other sedatives.

    Low Blood Pressure

    Some people take Ashwagandha for this purpose. However, if you take too much and you don’t have any high blood pressure issues, you could lower your blood pressure to a dangerous level.

    For this reason, you should also avoid taking Ashwagandha if you have been prescribed blood pressure medication.

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    Can Ashwagandha Be Bad For You?

    While Ashwagandha is believed to possess some amazing health benefits, there are certain circumstances in which it can be considered bad for you. However, these usually only involve pre-existing conditions.

    Below, we’ve put together some examples of situations where taking Ashwagandha could be bad for you.

    Pregnancy

    There is evidence to suggest that taking Ashwagandha during pregnancy could lead to miscarriage, so it’s advised that you stop taking it if you are pregnant.

    The reason for this is that it can help strengthen the adrenal glands, reduce cortisol, and increase blood flow during menstruation. So, while it may be a helpful supplement for achieving conception, it shouldn’t be taken when you are pregnant.

    Breastfeeding

    If you are breastfeeding your child, it’s also recommended that you refrain from taking Ashwagandha.

    While there isn’t any evidence to suggest it has a negative effect on your baby’s health, it’s still a powerful medicinal herb that your baby’s tiny body may not be able to process while it’s developing.

    Surgery

    If you are due to go into surgery, it’s recommended that you stop taking Ashwagandha at least two weeks beforehand. The reason for this is because Ashwagandha is believed to slow down your central nervous system, which is responsible for your body’s respiratory functions.

    When you undergo anesthesia, the central nervous system is also slowed down, and if it’s slowed too much by a mixture of Ashwagandha and anesthesia, you could face difficulties breathing during and after surgery.

    Organic Ashwagandha roots

    Can Ashwagandha Be Harmful?

    Generally speaking, Ashwagandha is a wonderful medicinal herb that is believed to possess multiple health benefits. However, as with all herbal and prescription medications, there are some circumstances in which it may do more harm than good.

    The most common of these circumstances is mixing Ashwagandha with another medicine. Certain prescription drugs may either enhance or negate the effects.

    So, if you’re taking any of the drugs listed below, it’s a good idea to stop taking Ashwagandha until you’ve completed your prescribed course of treatment.

    • Sedatives: Mixing sedatives with Ashwagandha can be harmful in two different ways. First of all, it can enhance the sedative effects, making you incredibly drowsy. Secondly, it can negate the effects of the sedative by raising your energy levels.
    • Immunosuppressants: Since Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, it may reduce the effects of immunosuppressants. This is one of the reasons why it shouldn’t be taken by anybody with an autoimmune disorder.
    • Antihypertensive drugs: Ashwagandha is also believed to lower blood pressure. This means it may interact negatively with any antihypertensive drugs and reduce your blood pressure too much.

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    Aside from the above medicines, another reason why somebody may find they have a bad reaction to Ashwagandha is that they are taking too much. As a rule, you should only be taking between 300mg - 1500mg per day and you should take a 4-week break every three months.

    Who Should Not Use Ashwagandha?

    Ashwagandha can be used by most people and it is a fantastic herbal supplement with lots of health benefits. However, there are some people that should avoid using Ashwagandha altogether.

    This includes the following:

    • Diabetics: This is a bit of a double-edged sword. Studies have shown that Ashwagandha can lower blood sugar levels. However, while this may make it sound helpful for diabetics, it can interfere with diabetes medication and cause your blood sugar levels to drop suddenly.
    • Anybody suffering from a stomach ulcer: One of the potential side effects of Ashwagandha is vomiting and nausea. For this reason, it’s not advised to take it if you suffer from a stomach ulcer as it may irritate the GI tract.
    • Pregnant women: You should stop using Ashwagandha straight away if you are pregnant. The main reason for this is because it can help stimulate the adrenal glands and maintain a healthy menstruation cycle. This isn’t something you want to happen when you’re pregnant.
    • Anybody with an autoimmune disease: Whether you're suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, or any other kind of autoimmune disease, you should not use Ashwagandha. The reason for this is because it increases activity in the immune system. As such, the symptoms of your autoimmune disease could get worse and any medications you’ve been prescribed could stop working.
    • Hemophiliacs: Ashwagandha is also believed to have anticoagulant properties. For this reason, it shouldn’t be taken by anybody suffering from hemophilia or any other type of bleeding disorder. It may also negate the effects of certain blood disorder medications.

    Conclusion

    As with all medicinal herbs, there are some side effects you might experience when you take Ashwagandha. However, for the most part, Ashwagandha is believed to be totally safe if taken in the correct dosage.

    Different forms of Ashwagandha use different parts of the the plant (e.g. KSM-66, Sensoril, Shoden etc.) which can have different effects as well.

    It’s also important to introduce your body to all forms of Ashwagandha slowly, otherwise, you may experience a mild stomach upset.

    Having said that, it is very important to note, also, that there are some people who should never take Ashwagandha. These include pregnant women, hemophiliacs, people with diabetes, and anybody with an autoimmune disease.

    There are also certain medications that it could negate the effects of. So, if you are on medication, we’d always recommend checking with your doctor before you start taking Ashwagandha.

    If you do feel like Ashwagandha is something you'd love to incorporate into your life, these are the best Ashwagandha supplements we've found and where you can buy them.

    Darcy Ogdon-Nolan

    Holding a Bachelor Of Science (Hons.) combined with close to a decade now in the health food and wellness industry, I believe I'm uniquely positioned to provide a depth of knowledge and first-hand experience on emerging health products, trends and ideas! From greens powders and medicinal mushrooms through to protein powders and workout nutrition - I'm particularly interested in what modern science can uncover about what human cultures have been using to treat ailments for millennia!

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