Ashwagandha Side Effects and Ashwagandha Benefits

Highlights
Studies indicate ashwagandha may have benefits of anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antistress, antioxidant,
immunomodulatory, hemopoietic, and rejuvenating effects. It also appears to exert a positive effect on the endocrine,
cardiopulmonary, and central nervous systems. Some researchers suggest ashwagandha exhibits a variety of benefits
with limited side effects or toxicity. [22]

Ashwagandha, used in traditional Indian and Ayurvedic medicine, grows in India and Africa. The roots of ashwagandha
are believed to have health benefits on various conditions including inflammation (including arthritis), and a wide range of
infectious diseases. [1,2] Ashwagandha contains withanolides as its major active ingredients to account for most of its
medicinal benefits or uses. [4]

Basic studies have shown its ability to simulate the immune system cells, inhibit inflammation and improve memory in
animal studies. [5-7] Thus, it is not a surprise that herbalists claim ashwagandha as a tonic or adaptogen [8].  It may
relieve anxiety. Adaptogen is an herb counteract the effects of stress and promote general wellness. Usually, marketers
suggest dosages of 3-6 grams of the dried root a day. [9] Ashwagandha tea is also available.
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ASHWAGANDHA HEALTH BENEFITS

Ashwagandha benefits of anti-microbial activities.
Oral administration of the aqueous extracts successfully obliterated salmonella infection in Balb/C mice as revealed by
increased survival rate as well as less bacterial load in various vital organs of the treated animals. [18] In another study,
ashwagandha given orally once daily for 7 consecutive days in a dose of 100 mg/kg after intravenous infection of
Aspergillus fumigatus prolonged the survival period of infected mice. [27] Thus, it is believed that ashwagandha may
benefit people at risk of certain infections.

Ashwagandha benefits of anti-oxidant activities.
Withania somnifera inhibited both the lipid peroxidation and protein oxidative modification induced by copper in Wistar
rats. These effects were similar to those of superoxide dismutase and mannitol. [19] In another study of mice,15 days
treatment with Ashwagandha root powder did not produce any significant change, 30 days treatment produced a
significant decrease in lipid peroxidation, and an increase in both superoxide dismutase and catalase in mice. Thus,
Ashwagandha root powder possesses free radical scavenging activity. [24] This anti-oxidative activity is important as it
may contribute the ashwagandha health benefits.

Ashwagandha benefits on neuronal activities and memory.
In a study, ethanol extract of Ashwagandha roots induced dendrite extension in a human neuroblastoma cell line.  The
compounds responsible for this activity are found to be withanosides IV and VI. [20, 22] Further, chronic treatment with
electroconvulsive shock in mice, for 6 successive days at 24 h intervals, disrupted memory consolidation on day 7. Daily
administration of ashwagandha for 6 days significantly improved memory consolidation in mice receiving chronic
electroconvulsive shock treatment.  [21]  Thus, it is possible that ashwagandha may benefit people at risk of certain
neuronal conditions.

Ashwagandha benefits on immunomodulatory activities.
In a study of mice, Indian researchers found ashwagandha prevented myelosuppression in mice treated with all three
immunosuppressive drugs cyclophosphamide, azathioprin, or prednisolone. They also noticed a significant increase in
hemoglobin concentration (P < 0.01), red blood cell count (P < 0.01), white blood cell count (P < 0.05), platelet count (P
< 0.01), and body weight (P < 0.05) in Ashwagandha-treated mice as compared with untreated (control) mice. [25] In
another study of mice, researchers also found a significant increase in white blood cell and platelet counts in animals
treated with extracts of Ashwagandha. [26]

Ashwaganha benefits of anti-stress activities.
Ashwagandha was shown to increase swimming time in rats in physical working capacity test, i.e. rats swimming
endurance test. Significant increase in relative heart weight and glycogen content in myocardium and liver was also
observed in ashwagandha treated group. [23]

Grandhi A and co-workers from Indian Drugs Research Association, Pune, prepared aqueous suspensions of roots of an
Indian drug Ashwagandha and the Korean drug Ginseng. And, they supplemented mice with either one of these
suspensions. They found that a significant increase in mice swimming time after intake either one of these preparations.
[15] Thus, ashwaganha may benefit people in sport or under pressure.

Ashwagandha benefits of anti-cancer effects.
Japanese researchers found that the leaf extract of Ashwagandha has a significant anti-proliferative activity in human
tumorigenic cells. However, it did not impart any protection against the oxidative damage caused by high glucose and
hydrogen peroxide to human tumor cells suggesting that it can be used as an anti-tumor, but not as an anti-oxidant,
substance. [14]

Devi PU, an Indian researchers, noticed a significant antitumor and radiosensitizing effects in experimental tumors from
the alcoholic Ashwagandha root extract. Withaferin A gave a sensitizer enhancement ratio of 1.5 for in vitro cell killing of
V79 Chinese hamster cells at a non-toxic concentration of approximately 2 microM. [12] This group also injected alcoholic
ashwagandha extract at daily dosages of 200 to 1000 mg/kg body wt for 15 days starting from 24 hr after intradermal
inoculation of 5 x 10(5) cells of S-180 to BALB/c mice. They observed a significant increase in the volume doubling time
and growth delay was seen when the ashwagandha dose was increased from 500 to 750 mg/kg body wt. [10] They
further obtained similar results in a study of Sarcoma-180 grown on the dorsum of adult BALB/c mouse using alcoholic
root extract of W. somnifera and their modification by heat. [11] Thus, ashwagandha root extract may benefit people at
risk of certain cancers.
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ASHWAGANDHA SIDE EFFECTS, PRECAUTIONS, SAFETY, DANGER AND TOXICITY

Ashwagandha Safety and Toxicity
In a study of rats for intake of ginseng and ashwagandha for 90 days, researchers found significant increase in body
weight, food consumption and liver weight, and improved hematopoiesis. They did not reveal any toxicity of brain, heart,
lung, liver, spleen, kidneys, stomach, testis and ovaries. [17] Thus, ashwagandha probably is safe without serious side
effects.

Ashwagandha Side Effects
Ashwagandha probably is safe for most healthy people when taken by mouth for short-term use. The side effects of large
dosage of ashwagandha may include stomach upset, diarrhea and vomiting, while the side effects of long-term use is
unknown.

There is a case about ashwagandha side effect. The reporter speculated that ashwagandha could increase serum
concentrations of thyroid hormones causing thyrotoxicosis of a healthy woman. Chronic fatigue is the one of the main
symptoms of thyrotoxicosis. The symptoms resolved spontaneously after discontinuation of the ashwagandha capsules.
[13]

Panda S and Kar A from D.A. University, Indore, India noticed that ashwagandha root extracts could regulate thyroid
function with special reference to type-I iodothyronine 5'-monodeiodinase activity in mice liver. Furthermore,
ashwagandha root extract significantly reduced hepatic lipid peroxidation, whereas the activity of antioxidant enzymes
such as superoxide dismutase and catalase were increased. These findings reveal that the ashwagandha root extract
stimulates thyroidal activity and also enhances the antiperoxidation of hepatic tissue. [16]

WARNING AND PRECAUTIONS
People with thyroid or liver issues should not use this herb or related products. Also, ashwagandha has immunological
effects, people with auto-immune diseases should not take ashwagandha. Auto-immune diseases include multiple
sclerosis, lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis, etc.
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1. Duke JA. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985, 514–5. 2. Duke JA. CRC Handbook of Medicinal
Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985, 514–5. 3. Bone K. Clinical Applications of Ayurvedic and Chinese Herbs. Queensland,
Australia: Phytotherapy Press, 1996, 137–41. 4. Wagner H, Nörr H, Winterhoff H. Plant adaptogens. Phytomed 1994;1:63–76. 5.
Wagner H, Nörr H, Winterhoff H. Plant adaptogens. Phytomed 1994;1:63–76. 6. Anabalgan K, Sadique J. Antiinflammatory activity of
Withania somnifera. Indian J Exp Biol 1981;19:245–9. 7. Bhattacharya SK, Kumar A, Ghosal S. Effects of glycowithanolides from
Withania somnifera on an animal model of AlzheimerÂ’s disease and perturbed central cholinergic markers of cognition in rats.
Phytother Res 1995;9:110–3. 8. Bone K. Clinical Applications of Ayurvedic and Chinese Herbs. Queensland, Australia: Phytotherapy
Press, 1996, 137–41. 9. Bone K. Clinical Applications of Ayurvedic and Chinese Herbs. Queensland, Australia: Phytotherapy Press,
1996, 137–41. [10] Devi PU, et al, In vivo growth inhibitory effect of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) on a transplantable mouse
tumor, Sarcoma 180. Indian J Exp Biol. 1992 Mar;30(3):169-72. [11] Devi PU, et al, Antitumor and radiosensitizing effects of Withania
somnifera (Ashwagandha) on a transplantable mouse tumor, Sarcoma-180. Indian J Exp Biol. 1993 Jul;31(7):607-11. [12] Devi PU.
Withania somnifera Dunal (Ashwagandha): potential plant source of a promising drug for cancer chemotherapy and radiosensitization.
Indian J Exp Biol. 1996 Oct;34(10):927-32. [13] van der Hooft CS, et al, Thyrotoxicosis following the use of ashwagandha. Ned Tijdschr
Geneeskd. 2005 Nov 19;149(47):2637-8. [14] Kaur K, et al, Evaluation of the anti-proliferative and anti-oxidative activities of leaf
extract from in vivo and in vitro raised Ashwagandha. Food Chem Toxicol. 2004 Dec;42(12):2015-20. [15] A comparative
pharmacological investigation of Ashwagandha and Ginseng. J Ethnopharmacol. 1994 Dec;44(3):131-5. [16] Panda S, Kar A. Changes
in thyroid hormone concentrations after administration of ashwagandha root extract to adult male mice. J Pharm Pharmacol. 1998 Sep;
50(9):1065-8. [17] Aphale AA, et al, Subacute toxicity study of the combination of ginseng (Panax ginseng) and ashwagandha
(Withania somnifera) in rats: a safety assessment. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 1998 Apr;42(2):299-302. [18] Owais M, et al,  
Antibacterial efficacy of Withania somnifera (ashwagandha) an indigenous medicinal plant against experimental murine salmonellosis.
Phytomedicine. 2005 Mar;12(3):229-35. [19] Gupta SK, et al, Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) attenuates antioxidant defense in
aged spinal cord and inhibits copper induced lipid peroxidation and protein oxidative modifications. Drug Metabol Drug Interact. 2003;19
(3):211-22. [20] Kuboyama T, et al, Axon- or dendrite-predominant outgrowth induced by constituents from Ashwagandha.
Neuroreport. 2002 Oct 7;13(14):1715-20. [21] Dhuley JN. Nootropic-like effect of ashwagandha (Withania somnifera L.) in mice.
Phytother Res. 2001 Sep;15(6):524-8. [22] Mishra LC, Singh BB, Dagenais S. Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Withania
somnifera (ashwagandha): a review. Altern Med Rev. 2000 Aug;5(4):334-46. [22] Tohda C, Kuboyama T, Komatsu K. Dendrite
extension by methanol extract of Ashwagandha (roots of Withania somnifera) in SK-N-SH cells. Neuroreport. 2000 Jun 26;11(9):1981-
5. [23] Dhuley JN. Adaptogenic and cardioprotective action of ashwagandha in rats and frogs. J Ethnopharmacol. 2000 Apr;70(1):57-63.
[24] Panda S, Kar A. Evidence for free radical scavenging activity of Ashwagandha root powder in mice. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol.
1997 Oct;41(4):424-6. [25] Ziauddin M, et al,  Studies on the immunomodulatory effects of Ashwagandha. J Ethnopharmacol. 1996
Feb;50(2):69-76. [26] Agarwal R, Studies on immunomodulatory activity of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) extracts in
experimental immune inflammation. J Ethnopharmacol. 1999 Oct;67(1):27-35. [27] Dhuley JN. Therapeutic efficacy of Ashwagandha
against experimental aspergillosis in mice. Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol. 1998 Feb;20(1):191-8.
Ashwagandha benefits, Ashwagandha side effects,
Ashwagandha extract, powder, supplement, dosage, reviews November 30, 2011
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Ashwagandha Reviews
Ashwagandha is a short shrub (35–75 cm) with a central stem from which branch extend radially in a star pattern (stellate) and covered with a
dense matte of wooly hairs. The flowers are small and green, while the ripe fruit is orange-red and has milk-coagulating properties. Its roots are
used for medicinal purposes.Ashwagandha has been used in Ayurveda; ashwagandha contains alkaloids and steroidal lactones. Ashwagandha
leaves contain withaferin A. Withaferin A may have many uses in chemotherapy. Ashwagandha is believed to be able to benefit people suffered
from many different diseases, while its side effect may include stimulation of the thyroid gland. [Wikipedia.com] We are going to review what
scientists found about ashwagandha benefits and side effects in the next section.

Related Terms: Ashwagandha, Withania somnifera, Indian ginseng, Winter cherry, Ajagandha, Kanaje Hindi, Amukkara (Tamil), Samm Al Ferakh.
Family: Solanaceae or nightshade. Related Species: Withania coagulans (Dunal) (Paneer dodi, Ashutosh booti)
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