You may be already somewhat clued up on the world of ashwagandha, or perhaps it’s your first time hearing of it.
Either way, it’s good to know about the benefits of ashwagandha supplements, especially for your mental health.
One of the most known uses of ashwagandha is its ability to reduce stress levels, as it is classified as an adaptogen, a substance that helps the body cope with stress.
Our guide will dive into how adaptogens can aid your mental health, the recommended daily dosage, and how other mental health conditions, like anxiety and ADHD, could benefit from ashwagandha.
- What is ashwagandha?
- Health benefits of ashwagandha
- How ashwagandha benefits mental health
- The science behind it
- Ashwagandha and anxiety
- Ashwagandha and depression
- Ashwagandha and ADHD
- What's the recommended dosage for ashwagandha?
- In summary
For those who need a bit of guidance into what ashwagandha actually is, this is the place.
Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera or ‘winter cherry’, is a small evergreen shrub from parts of India, the Middle East and Africa1.
Renowned for being one of the world’s most powerful herbs and spanning back thousands of years, it’s grown in popularity for the wealth of benefits it provides for consumers.
You can learn more about ashwagandha from our detailed guide, including how it’s extracted and used.
Its health benefits are commonly known among consumers, making it a popular supplement choice. These include:
- Helping with brain function (e.g., concentration, memory)
- Maintaining normal cholesterol levels
- Reducing blood sugar levels
- Benefiting physical endurance
- Reducing stress levels
As ashwagandha is an adaptogen, it reportedly helps the body cope with stress by reducing cortisol levels (the stress hormone) in your body.
This means that taking ashwagandha tablets daily could help with symptoms of mental health conditions.
With adaptogen properties reducing cortisol in the body, ashwagandha has been suggested to help improve mental health conditions, including:
- Anxiety (including social anxiety and anxiety disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder)
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Ashwagandha reportedly helps to control stress mediators, including heat shock proteins (Hsp70), cortisol, and stress-activated c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase (JNK-1).2
It can also reduce the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is a system in your body that regulates the stress response.3
In a study of 58 participants, those who took 250mg or 600mg of ashwagandha daily showed a drop in their cortisol levels and improved sleep quality. These findings suggested that ashwagandha root was beneficial in relieving both stress and anxiety.4
In some cases, yes – ashwagandha could help with anxiety levels.
Early research suggests that ashwagandha could provide beneficial aid for those suffering from anxiety or anxiety-related disorders.
A study to support this involved 60 people taking 240mg of ashwagandha a day for 60 days. They then reported significant reductions in anxiety compared to those who took the placebo treatment.5
However, another recent study suggested that more research is required to appropriately advise the best form of ashwagandha for helping with stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders, such as anxiety.6
There is evidence to suggest that ashwagandha can be used to help symptoms of depression, too.
A 2012 study showed adults reporting high levels of stress taking 600mg of ashwagandha per day for 60 days, saw a 77% reduction in symptoms of depression, compared to a 5% drop in symptoms from the placebo group.7
However, it’s important to note that although ashwagandha may help with symptoms of depression, such as providing stress relief, it should not be used as an alternative to prescribed anti-depressant medication.
In short, it depends.
There has been clinical research to show that a combination herbal product which contains ashwagandha may improve impulse control.
However, the effect of ashwagandha powder alone is unclear, and there is little research to support using it.
That being said, ashwagandha could still be beneficial for alleviating the symptoms that are often a by-product of having ADHD, such as anxiety and stress.
Daily doses range from 250mg to 5g.
However, the right amount for you will depend on several factors. This includes the health benefit you’re taking it for and your tolerance to the supplement.
If you’re taking ashwagandha to reduce stress and anxiety symptoms, most benefits are linked to dosages of around 500-600mg per day. It’s advised this dosage is taken for at least one month to see the effects.
However, it’s recommended that if you’re taking ashwagandha to help improve symptoms related to mental health or alongside other medication, you should consult your GP beforehand who’ll be able to advise on the best dosage to take.
It’s also important to note that some studies have suggested that there may not be enough evidence on the most appropriate dosage and form of ashwagandha for supporting stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders, such as anxiety.8
Some evidence has suggested that ashwagandha could help to reduce stress levels and anxiety symptoms, benefiting a range of other mental health conditions with these symptoms, too.
However, more detailed research is required to advise appropriate forms and dosing to address these disorders.
Whether you suffer from a mental health condition or not, it’s advised to consult with a healthcare professional before adding ashwagandha to your routine.
For more information about ashwagandha, our detailed guide has you covered.