Ashwagandha - NutraPedia

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Ashwagandha: An Overview of Uses and Effects

1) Conditions Studied for Ashwagandha Use

Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera, has been studied for various health conditions, including but not limited to:

  • Stress and anxiety reduction
  • Improving cognitive function and memory
  • Reducing symptoms of depression
  • Increasing strength and muscle mass in conjunction with resistance training
  • Improving sexual function and fertility in men
  • Managing blood sugar levels
  • Supporting heart health by reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • Anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, which may benefit conditions like arthritis

2) Efficacy in Treating Conditions

Research on ashwagandha has shown promising results, though it should be noted that more large-scale, high-quality studies are needed. Here are some findings:

  • Stress and Anxiety: Several studies suggest that ashwagandha may help reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Cognitive Function: Limited research indicates potential improvement in cognitive function.
  • Strength and Muscle Mass: Some evidence supports its use to enhance strength and muscle mass gains from resistance training.
  • Sexual Function: Studies have shown improved semen quality and increased testosterone levels in men.

3) Health Benefits of Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is believed to offer various health benefits, including:

  • Adaptogenic properties, helping the body cope with daily stress
  • Anti-inflammatory effects that may help reduce pain and swelling
  • Antioxidant properties that could protect against cellular damage
  • Potential improvement in sleep quality
  • May enhance brain function, including memory

4) Potential Downsides of Ashwagandha

While ashwagandha is generally considered safe for short-term use, there are potential downsides, such as:

  • Side effects like diarrhea, vomiting, and upset stomach
  • Possible interactions with medications (e.g., thyroid, blood sugar, and blood pressure drugs)
  • The risk of complications for individuals with autoimmune diseases or those pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Not enough research on long-term safety

5) Ashwagandha's Interaction with Genetic Variations

Research into the interaction between ashwagandha and specific genetic variations is still in its early stages. However:

  • Certain genetic profiles may respond differently to the herb, potentially influencing its effectiveness.
  • Individuals with genetic susceptibilities to hormone-sensitive conditions might need to exercise caution due to ashwagandha's potential influence on hormone levels.
  • Genetic variations in liver enzymes could affect how ashwagandha is metabolized and therefore its safety and efficacy.

Note: The information presented here is based on current scientific research as of the knowledge cutoff date and should not be taken as medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Research Summary

Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera, has been the focus of numerous studies due to its potential health benefits. Here is a summary of key research findings:

Cognitive and Mental Health Benefits

  • Ashwagandha may improve cognitive function and memory in healthy individuals as well as in those with mild cognitive impairment.
  • It has shown promise in treating neuropsychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
  • The herb's adaptogenic properties may enhance stress resilience and contribute to better mental health and quality of life.

Physical Performance and Recovery

  • Supplementation with Ashwagandha can improve physical performance, including strength, cardiorespiratory endurance, and recovery in athletes and healthy adults.
  • It may also be beneficial for individuals engaging in resistance training programs.

Fertility and Sexual Health

  • Ashwagandha has been traditionally used to treat male infertility and has shown significant improvements in sperm count, motility, and hormone levels.
  • The herb also enhances sexual function and testosterone levels in adult males.

Stress Resistance and Immunomodulation

  • Ashwagandha extract can reduce stress assessment scores and serum cortisol levels, suggesting its effectiveness in improving stress resistance.
  • The extract has immunomodulatory effects, increasing various immunoglobulins and cytokines, indicating enhanced immune function in healthy adults.

Safety and Toxicity Profile

  • Ashwagandha is generally considered safe with no major adverse events reported in most studies.
  • However, there have been rare cases of liver injury and thyrotoxicosis potentially associated with Ashwagandha use, emphasizing the need for awareness of possible risks.

Anti-Cancer Properties

  • Ashwagandha root extract may inhibit the spread of breast cancer and has antiangiogenic properties.
  • It can also induce selective apoptosis in cancer cells without affecting normal cells.

Other Health Benefits

  • The herb has shown anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, and anti-arthritic properties.
  • It may assist in managing symptoms and improving quality of life in patients with conditions such as osteoarthritis and tuberculosis.

While the evidence for Ashwagandha's health benefits is promising, further research is needed to confirm its efficacy for various therapeutic applications and to fully understand its safety profile.


  1. Naturopathic care for anxiety: a randomized controlled trial ISRCTN78958974
  2. Clinical Evaluation of the Spermatogenic Activity of the Root Extract of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in Oligospermic Males: A Pilot Study
  3. Randomized placebo-controlled adjunctive study of an extract of withania somnifera for cognitive dysfunction in bipolar disorder
  4. Immunomodulatory Effect of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) Extract-A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo Controlled Trial with an Open Label Extension on Healthy Participants
  5. Effect of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract on sleep: A systematic review and meta-analysis
  6. Effects of Ashwagandha ( Withania somnifera) on Physical Performance: Systematic Review and Bayesian Meta-Analysis
  7. Effect of standardized root extract of ashwagandha ( Withania somnifera) on well-being and sexual performance in adult males: A randomized controlled trial
  8. 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
  9. Pharmacological evaluation of Ashwagandha highlighting its healthcare claims, safety, and toxicity aspects
  10. Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal (Ashwagandha): A comprehensive review on ethnopharmacology, pharmacotherapeutics, biomedicinal and toxicological aspects
  11. Does Ashwagandha supplementation have a beneficial effect on the management of anxiety and stress? A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials
  12. Effect of Pharmacological and Neurostimulation Interventions for Cognitive Domains in Patients with Bipolar Disorder: A Systematic Review and Network Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials
  13. Medicinal herbs for the treatment of anxiety: A systematic review and network meta-analysis
  14. An update on the efficacy of anti-inflammatory agents for patients with schizophrenia: a meta-analysis
  15. Effects of Ashwagandha ( Withania somnifera) on VO2max: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
  16. An alternative treatment for anxiety: a systematic review of human trial results reported for the Ayurvedic herb ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
  17. Assessment of the Efficacy of Withania somnifera Root Extract in Patients with Generalized Anxiety Disorder: A Randomized Double-blind Placebo- Controlled Trial
  18. An investigation into the stress-relieving and pharmacological actions of an ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study
  19. Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha Root Extract on Cognitive Functions in Healthy, Stressed Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study
  20. Adaptogenic and Anxiolytic Effects of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Healthy Adults: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Clinical Study
  21. Body Weight Management in Adults Under Chronic Stress Through Treatment With Ashwagandha Root Extract: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial
  22. Efficacy of Withania somnifera supplementation on adult's cognition and mood
  23. Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial
  24. Effects of an Aqueous Extract of Withania somnifera on Strength Training Adaptations and Recovery: The STAR Trial
  25. Effects of eight-week supplementation of Ashwagandha on cardiorespiratory endurance in elite Indian cyclists
  26. A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial on the effect of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera dunal.) root extract in improving cardiorespiratory endurance and recovery in healthy athletic adults
  27. Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal as Add-On Therapy for COPD Patients: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind Study
  28. In vivo enhancement of natural killer cell activity through tea fortified with Ayurvedic herbs
  29. Clinical evaluation of Ashokarishta, Ashwagandha Churna and Praval Pishti in the management of menopausal syndrome
  30. Comparative evaluation of the effects of Withania somnifera with pentoxifylline on the sperm parameters in idiopathic male infertility: A triple-blind randomised clinical trial
  31. Effect of an ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) root extract on climacteric symptoms in women during perimenopause: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study
  32. Efficacy of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera Dunal. Linn.) in the management of psychogenic erectile dysfunction
  33. Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract for Improvement of Sexual Health in Healthy Women: A Prospective, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study
  34. Safety of Ashwagandha Root Extract: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, study in Healthy Volunteers
  35. Safety and clinical effectiveness of Withania Somnifera (Linn.) Dunal root in human ailments
  36. Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Withania somnifera (ashwagandha): a review
  37. [Thyrotoxicosis following the use of ashwagandha]
  38. Fixed-drug eruption caused by ashwagandha (Withania somnifera): a widely used Ayurvedic drug
  39. Liver Dangers of Herbal Products: A Case Report of Ashwagandha-Induced Liver Injury
  40. Ashwagandha-induced acute liver injury: A case report
  41. Ashwagandha-Associated Acute Liver Failure Requiring Liver Transplantation
  42. A Case of Supplement-Induced Hepatitis
  43. Drug-induced hepatocellular injury due to herbal supplement ashwagandha
  44. Ashwagandha-induced liver injury: A case series from Iceland and the US Drug-Induced Liver Injury Network
  45. DNA damage by Withanone as a potential cause of liver toxicity observed for herbal products of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha)
  46. Modulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis by plants and phytonutrients: a systematic review of human trials
  47. A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Study Examining the Hormonal and Vitality Effects of Ashwagandha ( Withania somnifera) in Aging, Overweight Males
  48. Withania somnifera Improves Semen Quality in Stress-Related Male Fertility
  49. Ashwagandha root in the treatment of non-classical adrenal hyperplasia
  50. Withania somnifera improves semen quality by regulating reproductive hormone levels and oxidative stress in seminal plasma of infertile males
  51. Selective killing of cancer cells by Ashwagandha leaf extract and its component Withanone involves ROS signaling
  52. Selective killing of cancer cells by leaf extract of Ashwagandha: components, activity and pathway analyses
  53. Adaptogenic and cardioprotective action of ashwagandha in rats and frogs
  54. Rasayana drugs from the Ayurvedic system of medicine as possible radioprotective agents in cancer treatment
  55. Withania somnifera: an Indian ginseng
  56. Merger of ayurveda and tissue culture-based functional genomics: inspirations from systems biology
  57. Indian herbs and herbal drugs used for the treatment of diabetes
  58. Monograph. Withania somnifera
  59. Adaptogenic activity of Withania somnifera: an experimental study using a rat model of chronic stress
  60. Restoration of stress-induced altered T cell function and corresponding cytokines patterns by Withanolide A
  61. Augmentation and proliferation of T lymphocytes and Th-1 cytokines by Withania somnifera in stressed mice
  62. Effects of Withania somnifera on Reproductive System: A Systematic Review of the Available Evidence
  63. Efficacy of Withania somnifera on seminal plasma metabolites of infertile males: a proton NMR study at 800 MHz
  64. Withania somnifera improves semen quality by combating oxidative stress and cell death and improving essential metal concentrations
  65. Botanicals in health and disease of the testis and male fertility: A scoping review
  66. The biology of ageing: the special senses
  67. Neurobiology of resilience
  68. Neurobiological Mechanisms of Stress Resilience and Implications for the Aged Population
  69. Neurobiology of Resilience: Interface Between Mind and Body
  70. Stress-Related Dysfunction of Adult Hippocampal Neurogenesis-An Attempt for Understanding Resilience?
  71. Effect of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) on the development of chemotherapy-induced fatigue and quality of life in breast cancer patients
  72. Neuroprotective effects of Withania somnifera dunal.: A possible mechanism
  73. Nitric oxide synthase protein and mRNA are discretely localized in neuronal populations of the mammalian CNS together with NADPH diaphorase
  74. Nitric oxide synthase and neuronal NADPH diaphorase are identical in brain and peripheral tissues
  75. Effects of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) on Stress and the Stress- Related Neuropsychiatric Disorders Anxiety, Depression, and Insomnia
  76. Effect of GABA on GnRH neurons switches from depolarization to hyperpolarization at puberty in the female mouse
  77. Activation of A-type gamma-aminobutyric acid receptors excites gonadotropin-releasing hormone neurons
  78. Effect of Withania somnifera Dunal root extract against pentylenetetrazol seizure threshold in mice: possible involvement of GABAergic system
  79. The methanolic extract of Withania somnifera ACTS on GABAA receptors in gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons in mice
  80. Pharmacological effects of Withania somnifera root extract on GABAA receptor complex
  81. Effect of Withania somnifera on Sleep-Wake Cycle in Sleep-Disturbed Rats: Possible GABAergic Mechanism
  82. Protective effect of Withania somnifera Dunal on the behavioral and biochemical alterations in sleep-disturbed mice (Grid over water suspended method)
  83. Potential clinical applications of Ashwagandha ( Withania somnifera) in medicine and neuropsychiatry
  84. Clinical evaluation of the pharmacological impact of ashwagandha root extract on sleep in healthy volunteers and insomnia patients: A double-blind, randomized, parallel-group, placebo-controlled study
  85. A randomized, double blind, placebo controlled study to evaluate the effects of ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract on sleep quality in healthy adults
  86. The Impact of Ashwagandha on Stress, Sleep Quality, and Food Cravings in College Students: Quantitative Analysis of a Double-Blind Randomized Control Trial
  87. 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
  88. Assessing depression following two ancient Indian interventions: effects of yoga and ayurveda on older adults in a residential home
  89. Influence of Yoga and Ayurveda on self-rated sleep in a geriatric population
  90. Exploratory study to evaluate tolerability, safety, and activity of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in healthy volunteers
  91. Protective effect of Withania somnifera dunal root extract against protracted social isolation induced behavior in rats
  92. Anxiolytic-antidepressant activity of Withania somnifera glycowithanolides: an experimental study
  93. Adaptogenic activity of a novel, withanolide-free aqueous fraction from the roots of Withania somnifera Dun
  94. Adaptogenic activity of a novel withanolide-free aqueous fraction from the roots of Withania somnifera Dun. (Part II)
  95. A biologically active constituent of withania somnifera (ashwagandha) with antistress activity
  96. Effect of Withania somnifera Dunal in ethanol-induced anxiolysis and withdrawal anxiety in rats
  97. A double-blind, placebo-controlled evaluation of the anxiolytic efficacy ff an ethanolic extract of withania somnifera
  98. Clinician guidelines for the treatment of psychiatric disorders with nutraceuticals and phytoceuticals: The World Federation of Societies of Biological Psychiatry (WFSBP) and Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT) Taskforce
  99. Effect of Withania somnifera on forced swimming test induced immobility in mice and its interaction with various drugs
  100. Attenuation of oxidative damage-associated cognitive decline by Withania somnifera in rat model of streptozotocin-induced cognitive impairment
  101. Influence of Withania somnifera on obsessive compulsive disorder in mice
  102. Current animal models of obsessive compulsive disorder: a critical review
  103. Synergistic induction of heme oxygenase-1 by the components of the antioxidant supplement Protandim
  104. Effect of Withania somnifera root extract on reserpine-induced orofacial dyskinesia and cognitive dysfunction
  105. Effect of Withania somnifera root extract on haloperidol-induced orofacial dyskinesia: possible mechanisms of action
  106. Withania somnifera prevents morphine withdrawal-induced decrease in spine density in nucleus accumbens shell of rats: a confocal laser scanning microscopy study
  107. Morphine withdrawal-induced morphological changes in the nucleus accumbens
  108. Ashwagandha leaf derived withanone protects normal human cells against the toxicity of methoxyacetic acid, a major industrial metabolite
  109. Withania somnifera root extract ameliorates hypobaric hypoxia induced memory impairment in rats
  110. Sominone enhances neurite outgrowth and spatial memory mediated by the neurotrophic factor receptor, RET
  111. Protective role of Ashwagandha leaf extract and its component withanone on scopolamine-induced changes in the brain and brain-derived cells
  112. GDNF signalling through the Ret receptor tyrosine kinase
  113. Functional receptor for GDNF encoded by the c-ret proto-oncogene
  114. Search for natural products related to regeneration of the neuronal network
  115. Axon- or dendrite-predominant outgrowth induced by constituents from Ashwagandha
  116. Neuritic regeneration and synaptic reconstruction induced by withanolide A
  117. Synthesis of withanolide A, biological evaluation of its neuritogenic properties, and studies on secretase inhibition
  118. Withanoside IV and its active metabolite, sominone, attenuate Abeta(25-35)-induced neurodegeneration
  119. Effects of Acute Ashwagandha Ingestion on Cognitive Function
  120. Effects of an Adaptogenic Extract on Electrical Activity of the Brain in Elderly Subjects with Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Two-Armed Cross-Over Study
  121. Diurnal cortisol slopes and mental and physical health outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis
  122. Randomized placebo-controlled pilot clinical trial on the efficacy of ayurvedic treatment regime on COVID-19 positive patients
  123. In vivo effects of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract on the activation of lymphocytes
  124. Clinical evaluation of Rasayana compound as an adjuvant in the management of tuberculosis with anti-Koch's treatment
  125. Adjunct therapy of Ayurvedic medicine with anti tubercular drugs on the therapeutic management of pulmonary tuberculosis
  126. Phase III randomized clinical trial of BV-4051, an Ayurvedic polyherbal formulation in moderate SARS-CoV-2 infections and its impact on inflammatory biomarkers
  127. Withania somnifera as a safer option to hydroxychloroquine in the chemoprophylaxis of COVID-19: Results of interim analysis
  128. Hypocholesteremic and antioxidant effects of Withania somnifera (Dunal) in hypercholesteremic rats
  129. Analysis of Clinical Trial Registry of India for Evidence of Anti-Arthritic Properties of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha)
  130. A 32-week randomized, placebo-controlled clinical evaluation of RA-11, an Ayurvedic drug, on osteoarthritis of the knees
  131. Natural products as a gold mine for arthritis treatment
  132. Effects of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) and Terminalia arjuna (Arjuna) on physical performance and cardiorespiratory endurance in healthy young adults
  133. Cardioprotection from ischemia and reperfusion injury by Withania somnifera: a hemodynamic, biochemical and histopathological assessment
  134. Withania somnifera provides cardioprotection and attenuates ischemia-reperfusion induced apoptosis
  135. The protective effect of a purified extract of Withania somnifera against doxorubicin-induced cardiac toxicity in rats
  136. Antidiabetic and antihyperlipidemic activity of hydroalcoholic extract of Withania coagulans Dunal dried fruit in experimental rat models
  137. Effects of Withania somnifera in patients of schizophrenia: a randomized, double blind, placebo controlled pilot trial study
  138. Protective effect of Withania somnifera against oxidative stress and pancreatic beta-cell damage in type 2 diabetic rats
  139. Hypoglycaemic and hypolipidaemic effects of Withania somnifera root and leaf extracts on alloxan-induced diabetic rats
  140. Withania somnifera root extract inhibits mammary cancer metastasis and epithelial to mesenchymal transition
  141. The tumor inhibitor and antiangiogenic agent withaferin A targets the intermediate filament protein vimentin
  142. Withaferin a alters intermediate filament organization, cell shape and behavior
  143. Withaferin A inhibits matrix metalloproteinase-9 activity by suppressing the Akt signaling pathway

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