What is ashwagandha and how does it work?

Ashwagandha is one of the most frequently chosen adaptogenic plants in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. Why is it so popular in Poland? Mainly because of its unique properties, which become particularly valuable in a world full of stress, sleep problems and endless deadlines. What are the distinctive features of ashwagandha and when is it worth reaching for preparations containing it? Discover the charm herbal medicine!

What is ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha, also known as Indian ginseng, sluggish vitania or winter cherry, is an adaptogenic plant found naturally mainly in Southeast Asia and the higher reaches of the Himalayas. Ayurvedic medicine has long used the root of this plant to treat a variety of ailments. It is from the root of ashwagandha that the main biologically active compounds are extracted. Recent research suggests that the leaves of vitania ashwagandha also have valuable properties. The main biologically active compounds include alkaloids (such as isopeletierin, anaferin, kuskohigrin, vitanin), steroidal lactones (vitanolides, vitapherins) and saponins.

What properties does ashwagandha have?

Ashwagandha is often chosen by people experiencing increased nervous tension and stress. Supplementation with Indian ginseng is also recommended for other situations such as insomnia, diabetes, difficulties conceiving a child or libido problems.

The benefits of ashwagandha include:

  1. Anti-stress effects: Ashwagandha relieves the effects of stress while strengthening the body's resistance to stressful situations.
  2. Anti-anxiety effects: thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, Indian ginseng can reduce oxidative stress, alleviating feelings of fear and anxiety.
  3. Improving sleep quality: In Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha has traditionally been used as a sleep preparation.
  4. Cardioprotective effects: Indian ginseng has cardiotropic and cardio-protective properties, also improving blood cell production (haematopoiesis).
  5. Neuroprotective effects: The vitanon content of ashwaganda protects against toxic changes in neuronal and glial cells, reduces the production of free radicals and improves psychomotor abilities.
  6. Improved fertility in men: Adaptogen increases testosterone levels, as well as sperm concentration and motility.
  7. Lowering blood sugar levels: Compounds such as vitapherin A have potent anti-diabetic effects by stimulating cells to take up glucose from the blood.
  8. Improving libido: Ashwagandha is considered an aphrodisiac, which can be effective in improving libido in men and women.
  9. Other properties: Normalising thyroid hormone levels, lowering total blood cholesterol levels, supporting muscle recovery after training and supporting the treatment of hormonal changes associated with menopause.

How to use ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is available in a variety of forms, such as powder, tea, pills, capsules, tinctures, drops or gels. To use it as a sleep-enhancing formula, it is advisable to follow the recommendations of the product in question. Optimal dosage is still a topic of debate and can vary depending on the specific supplement. Standard doses intended to facilitate sleep usually oscillate between 250 and 600 milligrams. However, it is important not to use it for more than three consecutive months.

Ashwagandha - side effects

The most common side effects are mild and include symptoms such as diarrhoea, nausea, indigestion and vomiting. There are also less common effects such as dry mouth, feeling drowsy, dizziness, hallucinations, coughing, congestion, blurred vision, rash or weight gain. There are some reports suggesting that ashwagandha supplementation may lead to liver damage. If any side effects occur, especially symptoms associated with liver damage. Such as jaundice or itching of the skin, it is recommended to consult a doctor immediately. However, it is worth mentioning that taurine, contained in ashwaganda, may have a beneficial effect on the function of this organ.


Ashwagandha may be potentially dangerous during pregnancy, due to reports suggesting the possibility of inducing miscarriage. Information on the effects of ashwagandha on breast milk is incomplete and uncertain.

Withania somnifera can lower blood glucose levels, which may be beneficial for people with diabetes. However, these people, usually taking hypoglycaemic medications, should be aware that the addition of ashwagandha may lead to unexpected lowering of blood glucose levels.

Ashwagandha also exhibits hypotensive effects, which can be a problem for people with hypertension or low blood pressure. Individuals with high blood pressure, especially those on antihypertensive medication, may experience an interaction between ashwagandha and their medication, which can lead to unexpected reductions in blood pressure. For individuals with already low blood pressure, ashwagandha can cause an excessive drop in blood pressure and even fainting.

The plant can irritate the gastrointestinal tract, which should prompt those with stomach ulcers to avoid its use. Although many people turn to ashwagandha to boost immunity, studies suggesting increased immune activity may be beneficial for some but detrimental for others, especially those with autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Abnormalities in thyroid function can be troublesome for people with this problem. Studies have shown that ashwagandha can raise thyroid hormone levels in people with subclinical hypothyroidism. This is a condition that does not require treatment. However, if someone is already on medication, additional use of ashwagandha may result in an excessive increase in thyroid hormones. Similarly, in the case of hyperthyroidism. Taking ashwagandha can further increase thyroid hormone levels, which in extreme cases can lead to severe thyrotoxicosis.

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