Being one of the foremost ingredients used in Ayurveda, it is highly unlikely that ashwagandha has any side effects. But the truth is, it does. Hard to believe, isn’t it? We know, and hence this post about ashwagandha side effects. Read to understand what we are talking about.
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Is Ashwagandha Safe?
Yes. And it’s incredibly healthy too. It is classified as an adaptogen, which means it helps manage stress. It offers several benefits to the body and brain.
However, its safety depends on its dosage. An overdose of ashwagandha is certainly not healthy. Moreover, certain individuals might experience side effects upon its intake (which is what we will discuss in a while). Here’s the recommended dosage:
Exceeding the dosage is bound to cause side effects. Let’s take a look at them now – the harmful effects of ashwagandha.
What Are The Side Effects Of Ashwagandha?
1. Causes Allergies
Though we need more research, anecdotal evidence suggests that some people might experience allergies due to ashwagandha. The reactions include skin rashes, itchiness, inflammation, chest pain, and difficulty in breathing. Even people allergic to nightshades need to avoid ashwagandha – as the herb belongs to the same family.
2. Can Cause Bleeding
Some sources say that ashwagandha can cause bleeding, which is one reason anyone with a bleeding disorder or who is about to undergo surgery must avoid the herb.
3. Might Lower Blood Sugar Way Too Much
Studies show how ashwagandha can lower blood sugar levels (1). However, this may not be beneficial to someone on diabetes medication – as the herb might end up lowering blood sugar levels way too much, which, again, is a problem.
The herb might have similar effects on blood pressure too – though there is no sufficient information.
4. Can Cause Gastrointestinal Issues
Ashwagandha is known to irritate the gastrointestinal tract, and hence must be avoided by anyone with stomach ulcers. Constipation was another side effect seen in a group that took ashwagandha, as per one study (2). The herb might also cause diarrhea and upset stomach.
[ Home Remedies For Gastritis ]
5. May Cause Drowsiness
This is particularly true in the case of sedative medications – as the additional relaxing properties of ashwagandha can lead to drowsiness. Ensure you don’t use the herb in conjunction with other medications like lorazepam, zolpidem, or alprazolam.
Studies have also confirmed that taking ashwagandha along with sedatives can cause excessive sleepiness (3).
6. Can Cause Dry Mouth
Too much of ashwagandha can cause dry mouth in certain individuals. Though there is not enough research, we advise you to exercise caution and consult your doctor if the condition arises.
[ Read: Effective Ways To Get Rid Of Dry Mouth ]
7. Might Lead To Erectile Dysfunction
As per researchers from the University of Ruhuna, ashwagandha root extract might cause erectile dysfunction and decrease male sexual performance. Even though the herb is touted to be an aphrodisiac, this is something to be considered.
8. Can Cause Liver Damage
Some sources say that excess use of ashwagandha can lead to liver damage. We, however, need more information on this.
9. Might Cause Fever
The use of ashwagandha can increase body temperature and cause fever a week or two post the intake. The body temperature usually reverts to normal within a few days. In case it doesn’t, please consult your doctor.
10. Is Harmful During Pregnancy And Breastfeeding
Ashwagandha is one of those herbs that can harm the baby or even terminate pregnancy. According to reports by the Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center, ashwagandha can induce abortion.
It might also cause miscarriages. Also, there is little information on the safety of ashwagandha during breastfeeding – stay on the safe side and avoid use.
11. Might Worsen Hyperthyroidism
Ashwagandha is known to increase thyroid hormone concentrations, and this can be bad news for people diagnosed with hyperthyroidism (4).
And even individuals diagnosed with hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) must consult their doctor before taking ashwagandha – it can offer relief in this case, though.
[ Read: Thyroid Diet-What Foods To Eat And Avoid ]
12. Might Aggravate Autoimmune Diseases
Ashwagandha extract is known to boost the immune system. But this can be a problem for individuals diagnosed with autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis. This is because medications taken for treating autoimmune diseases decrease immune system response, and supplementing them with ashwagandha may interfere with their effectiveness.
Well, these are the side effects of ashwagandha herb. It could be one of the best things produced by nature, but still, you must exercise precautions.
Other Precautions About Ashwagandha
It is important to take ashwagandha in the right dosage. Strictly follow the medical advice to prevent any adverse reactions. Certain other precautions about ashwagandha include:
- Ashwagandha root extract should be used only as a supplement as it is non-toxic in comparison to Withaferin A (the anticancer molecule).
- It is advisable to take ashwagandha with meals (or breakfast) with a full glass of water.
- As ashwagandha increases the effect of certain drugs or medication, it is important to review the drugs or medications that you are taking before consuming it.
- Those who experience diarrhea or upset stomach after using ashwagandha should take it in capsule form along with food.
There is no doubt that ashwagandha is an incredibly healthy herb with potent health benefits. In fact, one can experience the beneficial effects of this herb within two weeks from taking it. However, ashwagandha side effects must also be kept in mind. Do consult your doctor before taking ashwagandha, especially so if you have any medical condition.
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1. “Hypoglycaemic…”. US National Library of Medicine.
2. “A prospective, randomized…”. US National Library of Medicine.
3. “Ashwagandha”. US National Library of Medicine.
4. “Changes in thyroid hormone…”. US National Library of Medicine.