Ashwagandha Dosage: Effective Doses, Side Effects, and More

Medically Reviewed By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD
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Ashwagandha is an herb that may help a wide range of conditions including insomnia, stress, anxiety, neurodegenerative illnesses, and fatigue. Ashwagandha dosage can vary to produce beneficial effects, although side effects are possible. Ayurvedic medicine is a traditional system of medicine practiced in India since at least 6000 BC that has used ashwagandha for centuries.

Current clinical research now supports some claims of ashwagandha’s health benefits, with typical doses ranging between 250 milligrams (mg) and 1,000 mg daily over a limited time period.

Learn more about ashwagandha in this article, including how it works in the body, dosage, side effects, and whether taking ashwagandha might be appropriate for you.

What is ashwagandha?

there are ashwaganda roots against a beige background
Kristin Duvall/Stocksy United

Ashwagandha is a type of evergreen shrub that grows natively to parts of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.

Traditionally, medicinal uses of ashwagandha are diverse and have included treatment for stress and mental health conditions, as well as to improve strength. Ayurveda has also used it for conditions including insomnia, constipation, inflammation, worms, rheumatism, and ulcers.

What are the benefits of ashwagandha?

Many studies investigate the benefits of ashwagandha on a range of health conditions, with some producing positive results.

However, in many cases, researchers specify that further investigation is necessary to learn more about the herb, particularly concerning dosage and long term use.

Some clinical research initially supports the use of ashwagandha for certain health benefits.

Sleep quality

A 2021 systematic review and meta-analysis of trials including a total of 400 participants investigated the effects of ashwagandha extract on sleep.

Reviewers observed that taking ashwagandha extract related to a significant improvement of overall sleep, compared to participants who took a placebo.

Stress and anxiety

In a clinical study published in 2019, researchers investigated the effects of ashwagandha root extract on stress, anxiety, and sleep.

Results indicated a significant reduction in stress when participants took 250 mg/day of ashwagandha over an 8-week period. Additionally, using serum cortisol levels to measure anxiety, researchers observed a decrease in cortisol levels when participants took either 250 mg/day or 600 mg/day.

Mental health

Some research, such as the 2019 clinical study above, suggests that ashwagandha may help to improve anxiety.

A 2021 review investigated studies that researched the neuropsychiatric effects of ashwagandha and observed beneficial results in those studies.

However, the reviewers outline that while some studies demonstrate potential benefits, there is much variation in the dosage and formulas used. This makes it difficult to definitively conclude effectiveness and safety, and to agree on optimal ashwagandha use and dosage for treating neuropsychiatric conditions.

Physical performance

Findings from a 2021 systematic review and meta-analysis suggest that supplementation with ashwagandha may improve certain factors of physical performance.

Researchers observed that ashwagandha supplementation offered a more effective improvement in areas of strength and power, cardiorespiratory fitness, and fatigue and recovery in healthy participants than in those who took a placebo.

Anti-inflammatory effects

Ayurvedic medicine has long used ashwagandha preparations to cure swelling.

Research now investigates the anti-inflammatory properties of ashwagandha in laboratory studies.

A 2020 study observed that withaferin A, a compound of ashwagandha, may decrease the inflammatory response in vitro and in vivo.

Researchers also suggest that further clinical research in humans is necessary to investigate the use of ashwagandha compounds for anti-inflammatory treatments.

Pain relief

Researchers have observed that ashwagandha extracts may improve pain, stiffness, and discomfort.

A 2016 study suggested that participants with knee pain showed reduced scores for pain, stiffness, and disability with supplementation of ashwagandha at doses of 125 mg and 250 mg over a period of 12 weeks. Those who took doses of 250 mg saw the quickest effects of supplementation.

It is important to note, however, that researchers found that supplementation with 250 mg and 125 mg collectively resulted in six participants complaining of mild side effects including nausea, mild gastritis, and mild headache.

Cognitive effects

In a 2021 study, researchers observed that taking one sustained-release capsule of ashwagandha root extract once daily over a period of 90 days improved memory and focus, psychological well-being, sleep quality, and stress levels.

Neurological disease

Researchers from a 2021 study have also observed that ashwagandha may mitigate symptoms of various neurological conditions, including stroke, anxiety, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and tardive dyskinesia.

Additionally, ashwagandha may offer a protective role against these neurological disorders.

However, researchers emphasise the need for more study to improve understanding of the molecular mechanisms that work towards ashwagandha’s neuroprotective qualities.

How much ashwagandha should I take per day?

How much ashwagandha is safe and effective for you can depend on varying factors, such as the concern you are trying to treat, your health profile, and any other medication or conditions.

The 2019 study into ashwagandha and sleep quality suggests that an ashwagandha dosage of between 250 mg and 600 mg daily could offer benefits while presenting no serious adverse side effects.

However, the 2016 research regarding joint pain suggests that doses of 125 mg and 250 mg of ashwagandha root presented mild side effects.

Some guidance suggests doses of up to 1,000 mg daily, with a 2021 systematic review outlining that some research has used higher doses with no adverse side effects. However, the appropriate dosage for you will still depend on many factors.

Some guidelines suggest that daily ashwagandha is possibly safe for up to 3 months, as the long-term impact of ashwagandha is not yet completely known.

If you are considering taking ashwagandha but are unsure of the best dosage for you, contact your doctor to discuss how to take it safely and effectively.

Can you overdose on ashwagandha?

Different research has studied the effects of different dosages, and more research may be necessary to understand the long term safety of taking certain quantities of ashwagandha.

Products with higher doses of ashwagandha are also commercially available, but may not be suitable for everyone.

Taking too much ashwagandha can cause side effects, and it can have adverse reactions with certain medications and conditions.

Always talk with your doctor before starting any vitamin or supplement or before changing how much you take.

How should I take ashwagandha for the best results?

There are a number of safe ways to take ashwagandha orally. There is not enough research on other applications of ashwagandha, such as applying it to the skin, to advise their use.

Ashwagandha supplements are available as powder, tea, capsules, and tablets, as well as in liquid form.

Depending on your preferred format, you can try various ways of adding ashwagandha supplements into your routine. For example, if using a powder, you can add it to your meals, smoothies, and other foods.

You also can try ashwagandha tea. However, due to the herb’s strong taste and smell, you may want to look for a tea blend that includes ashwagandha among other flavors and ingredients.

Are there negative side effects to ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha can produce side effects.

Side effects occur especially when taking too much ashwagandha and can include diarrhea or nausea, headaches, and drowsiness. In rare cases it may cause liver problems.

Contact your doctor for advice before taking ashwagandha

It is essential to talk with your doctor before using any form of ashwagandha to evaluate if you need an ashwagandha supplement and how it could affect your health or any current treatments.

When taken inappropriately, ashwagandha can have side effects and potentially serious medicinal interactions.

Ashwagandha can react with certain medications and supplements you may already take, and result in adverse effects.

However, you should not stop taking any prescribed medication.

If you experience any of the following conditions or take medications for these conditions, consult your doctor before taking ashwagandha.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

It is probable that ashwagandha is not safe for pregnant people. Some evidence has demonstrated that ashwagandha may cause miscarriages.

There is also very little information about whether ashwagandha is safe to take while breastfeeding, so it is recommendable to avoid its use for the safety of you and your child.

Diabetes

Ashwagandha may lower blood sugar levels.

If you are already taking diabetes medication or are at risk of low blood sugar levels, taking ashwagandha might cause your blood sugar to drop too low.

High and low blood pressure

Ashwagandha may also lower blood pressure.

Taking ashwagandha alongside any medication or supplements that lower blood pressure could cause the blood pressure to drop to an unsafe level.

Examples of supplements that present a risk of low blood pressure when taken with ashwagandha include andrographis, casein peptides, L-arginine, niacin, and stinging nettle.

Thyroid conditions

Ashwagandha may increase the levels of thyroid hormones.

Taking it as the same time as thyroid hormone pills may result in too much thyroid hormone in the body and increase the side effects of thyroid hormone and your medication.

Prostate cancer

If you have prostate cancer that is hormone-sensitive, only take ashwagandha with the guidance of a doctor.

This is because ashwagandha may increase testosterone levels and interfere with your treatment.

Autoimmune conditions

Ashwagandha may cause the immune system to increase activity and could worsen the symptoms of autoimmune disease.

If you have an autoimmune condition such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis, you should avoid taking ashwagandha.

You should also avoid taking ashwagandha if you are on any immunosuppressant medication, as it can decrease the efficacy of these treatments.

Learn more about immunosuppressants and being immunocompromised here.

Sedatives

Ashwagandha may cause sleepiness or slowed breathing.

Certain sedative medications and supplements can also cause sleepiness and slow breathing. Mixing these supplements and medications may cause breathing problems, excessive sleepiness, or both.

Sedative medications and supplements can include benzodiazepines, central nervous system depressants, hops, kava, L-tryptophan, melatonin, and valerian.

Summary

Ashwagandha may be effective in treating or improving a variety of conditions, including stress, anxiety, neurological disease, and insomnia. Further research is necessary to confirm its effects.

Effective dosage can vary, and it is advisable to discuss what dose will be optimal for you with your doctor. As ashwagandha can produce side effects and adverse medicinal interactions, consulting with your doctor can help make sure your treatment remains safe and effective.

Typically, doses may range between 250 mg to 1,000 mg daily.

More research is necessary to confirm the benefits of ashwagandha, its long term safety, and appropriate dosage.

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Medical Reviewer: Jillian Kubala, MS, RD
Last Review Date: 2022 May 30
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