Not typically, but individual reactions to herbs may vary, and in some cases, ashwagandha might trigger or worsen anxiety.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal) holds significant importance as a medicinal plant with a history spanning over 3,000 years in Ayurvedic and indigenous medicine. The root has traditionally been used to alleviate stress, enhance strength, and promote overall well-being.

Yet, as with any herbal supplement or medication, individual reactions can vary, and some people might experience unexpected side effects, including anxiety or panic attacks.

While ashwagandha is generally known for its calming properties, it may potentially trigger anxiety in some individuals.

People’s reactions to ashwagandha may vary due to their individual body chemistry. What might relax one person could make another more anxious. In addition, ashwagandha could potentially interact with other medications or supplements, leading to unexpected anxiety.

Can too much ashwagandha cause anxiety?

Ashwagandha is widely known for its ability to reduce stress and anxiety, but excessive consumption of any substance can sometimes lead to unexpected effects, including the worsening of anxiety.

There are some concerns that excessive use of ashwagandha might affect thyroid hormone levels in some individuals, potentially leading to hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid).

In a case study, a 62-year-old woman in good health used ashwagandha root extract (ARE) for stress relief. She reported no adverse symptoms within the first few weeks of nonregular supplementation, but after 2 months of consistent daily dosing at 1,950 milligrams (mg), she experienced symptoms of thyrotoxicosis (excessive thyroid hormone levels), including worsened anxiety, fatigue, weight loss, “hysteric” behaviors, and other symptoms.

However, it’s important to note that most studies on this topic suggest that ashwagandha may have a beneficial impact on thyroid health by helping to balance thyroid hormone levels, particularly in cases of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).

For instance, during an 8-week study, 600 mg of daily ashwagandha root extract led to notable improvements in thyroid hormone levels (TSH, T3, and T4) in people with subclinical hypothyroidism. The treatment effectively normalized these levels over the study period, and only a small percentage of participants (8%) reported mild and temporary adverse effects.

The optimal dosage of ashwagandha may also vary from person to person. Taking more than the recommended dosage might lead to an imbalance in its effects, potentially causing an increase in restlessness and anxiety.

How do I know the right dosage for ashwagandha?

The best way to know how much ashwagandha (or any herbal supplement) is right for you is to discuss it with your primary physician. They’ll be able to advise you on dosage, check for reactions with any of your other medications, and let you know what side effects to expect.

You can also learn more about ashwagandha dosage here.

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While there are no studies suggesting that ashwagandha can cause panic attacks, anecdotal reports suggest they can occur in some individuals.

The positive influence of ashwagandha on mood is partially attributed to its impact on serotonin and GABA. However, just like medications that affect these neurotransmitters, not every individual responds in the same way. So it’s possible it could trigger a panic attack in some people.

Can ashwagandha use cause depression?

Most studies, like this one from 2019, report a reduction in depression after taking ashwagandha; however, not everyone’s body responds in the same way.

Ashwagandha may cause a drop in blood sugar levels. In some cases, this could worsen depressive symptoms, especially for those already dealing with low energy, mental fog, lack of motivation, or occasional depressive states.

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Discontinuing the use of any herb can potentially lead to a temporary increase in anxiety symptoms, especially if the herb was being used to manage stress or anxiety. This phenomenon, known as rebound anxiety, can occur with the abrupt cessation of substances that have been affecting neurotransmitter balance in the brain.

Importantly, however, there are no known studies suggesting that stopping ashwagandha can cause anxiety. In fact, evidence suggests that, as a true adaptogen, ashwagandha doesn’t typically influence body functions more than necessary nor cause withdrawal symptoms.

Research strongly supports ashwagandha’s potential for treating various conditions, particularly anxiety and central nervous system (CNS) disorders.

A 2019 study explored the effects of ashwagandha on stress in adults. Participants took either ashwagandha or a placebo for 60 days. Those who took ashwagandha showed reduced anxiety and stress levels. Hormone levels related to stress also improved.

Learn more about the benefits of ashwagandha here.

Get involved

If you’d like to participate in an ashwagandha study, check out, which is maintained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and provides information about ongoing clinical trials.

You can use keywords like “ashwagandha” or “Withania somnifera” to narrow down your search.

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Ashwagandha is widely considered to be a safe and effective supplement to help relieve anxiety and depression. However, not everyone has the same brain and body chemistry, and all medications and supplements may affect everyone differently.

It’s important to use ashwagandha supplements cautiously and under the guidance of a healthcare professional, especially if you have thyroid or autoimmune issues or are taking medications to lower your blood sugar or blood pressure.

If you’re considering using ashwagandha, it’s recommended that you consult with a healthcare professional to ensure its safe and appropriate use.