Ashwagandha, also known as Withania Somnifera, is a powerful herb that has been used as part of Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. Harvested from a shrub native to Africa and Asia, ashwagandha offers several health benefits related to stress, sleep, cognitive function, and inflammation. Read on to understand more about ashwagandha and whether it’s right for you. 

What is Ashwagandha? 

Ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub that grows in India and parts of Africa. In addition to Withania Somnifera, ashwagandha is also known as Winter Cherry or Indian ginseng. As one of the central herbs used in Ayurvedic medicine – a system based on rebalancing a person’s mind-body connection to avoid disease and illness – ashwagandha is typically taken as a supplement, powder form, or made into tea using the leaves of the plant.   

When harvesting ashwagandha as an herbal medicine, the root, leaves, seeds, and flowers are often used, however, the root is the most powerful source. 

Ashwagandha Uses

Ayurvedic medicine is centered around the belief that illness and disease are ultimately caused by physical or mental imbalance, such as pain, injury, or inflammation, as well as the underlying anxiety, worry, or stress that ensues. Ayurvedic medicine, therefore, is aimed at reducing imbalances, restoring a healthy mind-body connection, and improving overall health. 

Containing anti-inflammatory properties, brain-nourishing nutrients, and stress-reducing capabilities ashwagandha is known as a Rasayana, or a rejuvenator, in Ayurvedic medicine.   

Due to its healing abilities, ashwagandha is often recommended to:

  • Reduce stress & anxiety
  • Improve sleep & insomnia
  • Help treat brain health & depression
  • Reduce body inflammation

Ashwagandha to Reduce Stress and Anxiety

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), everyone experiences stress at some level. Described as a mental state of tension or worry that is usually triggered by a difficult situation, stress can arise as a response to an illness but it can also be the underlying cause of an illness. 

Anxiety, on the other hand, is commonly felt as a fear or dread about something that could, or will happen. When anxiety occurs frequently, it is medically referred to as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and it has been proven to make health conditions, illnesses, and chronic pain worse.  

As an adaptogen, Ashwagandha has been proven to lower the stress hormone cortisol and help lower the reaction of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which controls the body’s response to stress and anxiety. Supporting studies have revealed that participants taking a daily dose of ashwagandha not only showed significantly lower levels of cortisol in their saliva but also reported feeling less stress and anxiety. 

Ashwagandha to Improve Sleep & Insomnia

A recent study that focused on people suffering from insomnia concluded that taking 600 mg of ashwagandha root supplements per day for 8 weeks not only improved sleep but also helped participants feel more rested and alert upon waking. The results were compared to participants who only took a placebo for the duration of the study.  

Ashwagandha for Brain Health & Depression

When it comes to brain health, ashwagandha is known to improve cognitive function. During one study, participants who took 225-600 mg of ashwagandha extract daily for 30 days reported improved memory, better decision-making, and faster cognitive reaction.  

A further study in 2021 concluded that a daily dose of ashwagandha also helped patients to better manage depression, neurological issues (like Alzheimers), and mental health conditions.  

Ashwagandha For Inflammation

Inflammation is often the body’s protective response to an injury, infection, pain, illness, or disease. It occurs when white blood cells enter the blood and tissues thereby increasing blood flow to the part of the body that is affected in an effort to heal it. However, if the body cannot heal itself, inflammation lingers. 

Treating the inflammation that occurs as a symptom of many conditions, can significantly help to lower the associated pain too.  

In that respect, several studies have shown the benefits of ashwagandha on inflammation in the body, particularly for lowering levels of inflammatory proteins like interleukin-10 (IL-10) and inflammatory markers. 

Is Ashwagandha Good for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)?

Yes, ashwagandha can be incredibly beneficial for PCOS patients. As one of the main causes of infertility, PCOS is known to affect more than 6 million American women. In addition to fertility issues, inflammation, and insulin resistance, PCOS can also cause depression as well as a lack of sleep due to anxiety and worry. 

Acne, facial hair growth, and weight gain are common side effects of PCOS and these physical changes in appearance can often instigate the anxiety and depression linked to the condition. That said, levels of the mood-boosting hormone serotonin are also typically low in women with PCOS, which can also contribute to feeling mentally low. 

To counteract the influence of insulin on PCOS and reduce the severity of symptoms, female health experts recommend a regular intake of a natural sugar known as inositol. More specifically, a blend of 40:1 myo-inositol and D-Chiro inositol has been proven to improve insulin resistance and hormone balance, thereby regulating menstruation, and reducing facial hair growth, acne & weight gain.  

Here at Intimate Rose, we added vitamin D and 500 mg of ashwagandha to our blend of inositol to help reduce the feelings of depression and anxiety that are often caused by PCOS. 

Are There Side Effects to Taking Ashwagandha? 

Side effects from taking ashwagandha are rare but taking high doses can cause abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, drowsiness, or vomiting. 

Some health experts state that ashwagandha should not be taken for more than three months due to the unknown side effects of taking it long-term. However, it often takes three months for a daily dose of ashwagandha to take effect, and the long-term relief it provides in the absence of any side effects has been significantly helpful for many. 

If ashwagandha is proving helpful in relieving your anxiety, depression, PCOS, brain fog, or sleep problems, consider making a plan with your healthcare provider to continue taking it long-term while monitoring the emergence of any side effects.    

Who Should Not Take Ashwagandha? 

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are advised to refrain from using ashwagandha. As are those with liver problems, and patients taking medication like anticonvulsants, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines.  

Those suffering from autoimmune diseases and thyroid disorders are also advised to avoid taking ashwagandha due to its impact on the immune system. In these cases, Ashwagandha could over-activate the immune system and increase the severity of their symptoms. 

Because ashwagandha can have a calming or slowing effect on the central nervous system, healthcare professionals recommend that those about to undergo surgery should stop taking the herb at least two weeks before surgery. Although not proven, it is feared that the effects of anesthesia and ashwagandha together could adversely impact the nervous system.   

Ashwagandha Dosage: How Much Should You Take?

Based on the outcomes of clinical trials, there is no standard dose for ashwagandha. Some studies are based on participants taking 250-600 mg, while others are based on 250-1500 mg. Higher doses of ashwagandha, however, can cause side effects like diarrhea, vomiting, or abdominal discomfort for some but not for others. 

The best way to begin taking ashwagandha is to consult with a healthcare provider to ensure that it’s right for your condition, follow their suggested dosage, and stop if you notice any side effects.   


Ashwagandha is an ancient medicinal herb widely used within the Ayurvedic medical system to rebalance and renourish the mind and body. Containing anti-inflammatory properties, brain-nourishing nutrients, and stress-reducing capabilities ashwagandha is known to reduce anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, insomnia, and body inflammation, while improving cognitive function. 

Although it is safe for most, and side effects are rare, before taking ashwagandha it’s always best to consult with a healthcare provider about dosage and suitability for your condition.  


National Center for Complementary & Integrative Health – Ashwagandha -

National Library of Medicine - Adaptogenic and Anxiolytic Effects of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Healthy Adults: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Clinical Study -

National Library of Medicine - Effects of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) on Stress and the Stress-Related Neuropsychiatric Disorders Anxiety, Depression, and Insomnia -

National Library of Medicine - Effects of Acute Ashwagandha Ingestion on Cognitive Function -

National Library of Medicine - Efficacy and Tolerability of Ashwagandha Root Extract in the Elderly for Improvement of General Well-being and Sleep: A Prospective, Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study -

Endocrine Society – PCOS -

Mental Health America – Inositol -

National Library of Medicine - The inositols and polycystic ovary syndrome -

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