How many milligrams is too much ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is an ancient medicinal herb that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. It has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its many purported health benefits, which include reducing stress and anxiety, boosting brain function, and improving energy levels and athletic performance.

However, many people wonder how much ashwagandha they should take to reap these benefits, and whether there is such a thing as taking too much. In this comprehensive guide, we will examine how ashwagandha works, its recommended dosages, possible side effects, and when you may need to avoid it altogether.

What is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha, with the botanical name Withania somnifera, is a small woody shrub belonging to the nightshade family. It is native to India, northern Africa, and the Middle East.

The name ashwagandha comes from the Sanskrit words “ashva” meaning horse, and “gandha” meaning smell. This refers to the distinct horse-like odor of the plant’s roots. As part of Ayurvedic medicine, the root powder or extracts were believed to impart the strength and stamina of a horse.

In Ayurveda, ashwagandha is classified as a rasayana. This refers to herbs that promote youthfulness, longevity, and revitalization. It was thought to balance the body’s energies and counteract the effects of stress and aging.

Some of the key active compounds found in ashwagandha include:

Withanolides – steroidal lactones that have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and neuroprotective effects. The main bioactive withanolides are withaferin A and withanolide D.

Alkaloids – nitrogen-containing compounds like isopelletierine that have sedative effects.

Steroidal lactones – include withanolides which have immunosuppressant properties.

Saponins – plant glycosides that may stimulate the immune system.

These compounds are concentrated primarily in the root of the ashwagandha plant but are also found in the leaves and berries. Now let’s take a look at the specific benefits ashwagandha offers.

Benefits and Uses of Ashwagandha

Modern science is now validating many of the traditional uses of ashwagandha. Here are some of the ways it may benefit your health:

Reduces Stress and Anxiety – Multiple controlled studies have shown ashwagandha supplements can significantly decrease symptoms of anxiety and stress in people with generalized anxiety disorder. It appears to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Boosts Brain Function – Ashwagandha has been shown in studies to improve reaction time, memory, and task performance. It may also help prevent neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Increases Energy and Endurance – Research indicates supplements can boost cardiorespiratory endurance and mitigate exercise-induced muscle damage. This helps increase energy levels.

Supports Immune Function – Compounds in ashwagandha like withanolides have immunomodulatory effects that can strengthen your immune defenses.

Promotes Healthy Aging – Ashwagandha increases antioxidant activity, which helps slow the aging process caused by oxidative stress. It also balances hormones involved in aging like cortisol.

May Help Control Blood Sugar – Several studies demonstrate the ability of ashwagandha to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels in people with diabetes or prediabetes.

Enhances Male Fertility – Ashwagandha supplements appear to enhance semen quality and fertility in men struggling with reproductive health issues.

In addition to supplementation, ashwagandha root powder can also be ingested by brewing it into a tea. The leaves may be used as a vegetable or pressed to make ashwagandha oil for topical use.

Now that we’ve covered the many benefits of ashwagandha, let’s dive into how much you should take to experience these effects yourself.

Recommended Ashwagandha Dosage

The optimal dosage of ashwagandha depends on how you are taking it and the health benefits you are seeking to achieve. Supplements are commonly available in powder, tablet, or capsule form. Typical doses range from 250mg to 5,000mg per day.

Here are general dosage guidelines to follow:

Anxiety – For reducing anxiety and stress, clinical studies have used dosages between 250mg to 600mg taken once or twice daily. Effects become more prominent after about 8-12 weeks of continued use.

Memory and focus – Improvements in memory, reaction time, and attention span have been noted at 500mg per day. For people experiencing mild forgetfulness, doses up to 1,000mg appear beneficial.

Exercise performance – For athletes and active individuals, ashwagandha doses between 500-1,000mg once or twice daily may boost endurance and mitigate muscle damage.

Male fertility – In men adding ashwagandha to improve semen parameters, supplements with a daily dose of 5,000mg for 3 months showed good results.

Blood sugar control – Those with high blood sugar or metabolic syndrome may need doses on the higher end of 300-500mg twice per day to lower glucose and insulin levels.

General health – For preventative health benefits as an adaptogen, doses between 300mg to 500mg once or twice daily are commonly used.

When using the root powder form, doses range from 1-2 grams per day. It’s best to start low and gradually increase over several weeks to find the optimal dosage for you. Never exceed the recommended amount for the intended use.

Certain individuals should use extra caution with ashwagandha:

Pregnant or breastfeeding women – Ashwagandha has not been thoroughly studied in pregnant women and the impact on the fetus is unknown. It’s best to avoid use.

People with medical conditions – Those with diabetes, thyroid, autoimmune or gastrointestinal disorders should consult their doctor before using ashwagandha. It may increase thyroid hormone levels.

People taking medication – Ashwagandha may interact with medications like sedatives, blood pressure drugs, and blood thinners. Check with a pharmacist for possible interactions.

While ashwagandha is generally very well tolerated, taking too much can increase your risk of side effects. Let’s take a look at what they are.

Ashwagandha Side Effects

Ashwagandha is considered very safe when taken in the recommended dosages outlined above. Mild side effects reported include:

– Stomach upset
– Diarrhea
– Nausea
– Vomiting

These effects are more common when taking larger than recommended doses. They can often be minimized by taking ashwagandha with food.

More serious side effects can occur at extremely high doses over 1,000mg per day and may include:

– Liver damage
– Abdominal pain
– Rapid heartbeat
– Kidney problems

Pregnant women may face increased risk of miscarriage or early delivery if they take ashwagandha.

People with underlying health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, thyroid disorders, or autoimmune disease should use caution with ashwagandha until they know how it affects them. It may stimulate the immune system or impact hormone and blood sugar levels.

Always start with low doses and gradually increase over several weeks while monitoring for any side effects. And be sure to consult your doctor if taking any other medications to avoid unfavorable interactions.

Signs of Ashwagandha Overdose

Overdose symptoms occur when exceptionally large doses of ashwagandha supplements are consumed, usually over 5,000mg per day. Taking too much can cause serious toxicity.

Symptoms of ashwagandha overdose include:

– Stomach pain or cramps
– Diarrhea
– Vomiting
– Dizziness
– Fast heartbeat
– Fatigue
– Fever
– Jaundice
– Dark urine

In extreme cases, consuming over 20 grams per day can be fatal. Overdose can cause organ failure, coma, and death in rare situations.

Seek emergency medical attention if you experience these severe side effects. You should not attempt to self-treat an ashwagandha overdose with home remedies.

To avoid toxicity, do not exceed dosage recommendations based on the format you’re using and the health condition being treated. Monitor for mild side effects and reduce your dosage if they occur. Combining with other supplements or sedative medications increases overdose risk.

Best Practices for Safely Using Ashwagandha

When taking ashwagandha supplements, follow these best practices to minimize side effects and safety concerns:

Follow label directions – Never take more than the recommended dose for the specific ashwagandha product based on the extract concentration.

Start low, go slow – Begin with the lowest suggested dose and slowly increase over several weeks as your body adjusts.

Take with food – Consuming ashwagandha with a meal can reduce mild stomach upset. Avoid taking on an empty stomach.

Avoid at night – Ashwagandha can be mildly sedating, so dosage during the daytime is best.

Look for standardized root extract – Products made from concentrations of ashwagandha root like KSM-66® or Sensoril® may offer the greatest potency and benefits.

Beware of additives – Be cautious with multi-ingredient blends with extra herbs, stimulants or fillers.

Talk to your doctor – Discuss taking ashwagandha if you take any medications or have a health condition, especially diabetes or thyroid disorders.

Take occasional breaks – Consider cycling ashwagandha by taking it daily for several months then taking 1-2 weeks off.

By carefully following dosage guidelines and handling this powerful herb responsibly, you can safely use ashwagandha to enhance your health and prevent side effects.


Ashwagandha is an impressive Ayurvedic herb that modern research confirms has many evidence-based health benefits when taken in the right dosages. It performs best at doses between 300mg to 1,000mg depending on the desired therapeutic effect.

Consuming the recommended amount tailored to your needs offers advantages like lower stress, increased energy levels, improved brain function, better athletic performance, enhanced fertility, and boosting immunity.

Exceeding the optimal dosage for each intended use or combining with other sedative drugs raises your risk of side effects and toxicity. Make sure to consult your doctor if you have any medical conditions or take other medications.

When using ashwagandha responsibly by sticking to dosage guidelines, it appears safe for most healthy adults. But it’s always wise to start low and go slow, watching for possible stomach upset and other adverse reactions.

By using this ancient Ayurvedic herb wisely, you can unlock its many medicinal properties and avoid endangering your health due to taking too much ashwagandha.

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