Potential benefits of ashwagandha include better athletic performance and sleep. Some research suggests this herb may help people with conditions like anxiety and infertility, but stronger studies are needed.

Ashwagandha is one of the most important herbs in Ayurveda, which is a traditional form of alternative medicine based on Indian principles of natural healing.

People have used ashwagandha for thousands of years to relieve stress, increase energy levels, and improve concentration.

“Ashwagandha” is Sanskrit for “smell of the horse,” which refers to both the herb’s scent and its potential ability to increase strength.

Its botanical name is Withania somnifera, and it’s also known by several other names, including “Indian ginseng” and “winter cherry.”

The ashwagandha plant is a small shrub with yellow flowers that’s native to India and Southeast Asia. People use extracts or powder from the plant’s root or leaves to treat a variety of conditions, including anxiety and fertility issues.

Here are 8 potential benefits of ashwagandha, based on research.

Ashwagandha is perhaps best known for its ability to reduce stress. It’s classified as an adaptogen, a substance that helps the body cope with stress.

Ashwagandha may help control mediators of stress, including heat shock proteins (Hsp70), cortisol, and stress-activated c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase (JNK-1).

It also reduces the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, a system in your body that regulates the stress response.

Research suggests Ashwagandha supplements may help relieve stress and anxiety.

In a small study with 58 participants, those who took 250 or 600 mg of ashwagandha extract for 8 weeks had significantly reduced perceived stress and levels of the stress hormone cortisol compared with those who took a placebo.

Those who took the ashwagandha supplements also saw improvements in sleep quality compared with the placebo group.

Another study in 60 people found that those who took 240 mg of ashwagandha extract per day for 60 days had significant reductions in anxiety compared with those who received a placebo treatment.

Thus, early research suggests ashwagandha may be a helpful supplement for stress and anxiety.

However, a 2021 review of studies concluded that there’s not enough evidence to form a consensus on the most appropriate dosage and form of ashwagandha for treating stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders such as anxiety.


Ashwagandha may be effective for reducing stress and anxiety symptoms. However, more research is needed to form a consensus on appropriate forms and dosing to address stress and stress-related disorders.

Research has shown that ashwagandha may have beneficial effects on athletic performance and may be a worthwhile supplement for athletes.

One analysis of research included 12 studies in people who took ashwagandha doses between 120 mg and 1,250 mg per day. The results suggest the herb may enhance physical performance, including strength and oxygen use during exercise.

Another analysis that looked at five studies found that taking ashwagandha significantly enhanced maximum oxygen consumption (VO2 max) in healthy adults and athletes.

VO2 max is the maximum amount of oxygen a person can use during intense activity. It’s a measurement of heart and lung fitness.

Having optimal VO2 max is important for athletes and nonathletes alike. Low VO2 max is associated with increased mortality risk, while higher VO2 max is associated with a lower risk of heart disease.

Additionally, ashwagandha may help increase muscle strength.

In a 2015 study, male participants who took 600 mg of ashwagandha per day and participated in resistance training for 8 weeks had significantly greater gains in muscle strength and size compared with a placebo group.


Ashwagandha may help improve measures of physical performance in athletes and healthy adults, including VO2 max and strength.

Some evidence suggests that ashwagandha may help reduce symptoms of other mental health conditions, including depression, in certain populations.

In one study, researchers looked at the effects of ashwagandha in 66 people with schizophrenia who were experiencing depression and anxiety.

They found that participants who took 1,000 mg of ashwagandha extract daily for 12 weeks had greater reductions in depression and anxiety than those who took a placebo.

Limited research from 2013 also suggests that ashwagandha may help improve cognitive impairment in people with bipolar disorder.

A 2021 review concluded that ashwaghanda may help manage depression, anxiety, insomnia, and other mental health-related and neurological issues.

However, more research is needed into all these uses.


The limited research available suggests that ashwagandha may help reduce symptoms of depression and benefit people with some mental health conditions. However, more research is needed.

Ashwagandha supplements have been shown in some studies to benefit male fertility and increase testosterone levels.

In one study, 43 males aged 40–70 with overweight and mild fatigue took tablets containing ashwagandha extract or a placebo daily for 8 weeks.

The treatment was associated with an 18% greater increase in DHEA-S, a sex hormone involved in testosterone production. Participants who took the herb also had a 14.7% greater increase in testosterone than those who took the placebo.

Additionally, a review of four studies found that ashwagandha treatment significantly increased sperm concentration, semen volume, and sperm motility in males with low sperm count.

It also increased sperm concentration and motility in males with normal sperm count.

However, more studies are needed.


Ashwagandha may help increase testosterone levels and may have some potential benefits for male fertility. However, more research is needed.

Limited evidence suggests that ashwagandha may have some benefits for people with diabetes or high blood sugar levels.

A review of 24 studies, including 5 clinical studies in people with diabetes, found that treatment with ashwagandha significantly reduced blood sugar, hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), insulin, blood lipids, and oxidative stress markers.

The reason may be that certain compounds within ashwagandha — including one called withaferin A (WA) — have powerful antidiabetic activity and may help stimulate cells to take in glucose from the bloodstream.

However, research is limited at this time, and more well-designed studies are needed.


Limited evidence suggests that ashwagandha may reduce blood sugar levels through its effects on insulin secretion and cells’ ability to absorb glucose from the bloodstream.

Ashwagandha contains compounds, including WA, that may help reduce inflammation in the body.

Animal studies have shown that WA may also help reduce levels of inflammatory proteins such as interleukin-10 (IL-10), and there’s some evidence ashwagandha may help reduce inflammatory markers in humans too.

In a 2021 study, researchers gave people with COVID-19 an Ayurvedic drug containing 0.5 grams of ashwagandha and other herbs twice per day for 7 days. This reduced participants’ levels of inflammatory markers CRP, IL-6, and TNF-α compared with a placebo.

The treatment formulation also contained:

  • 1 gram of giloy ghanvati (Tinospora cordifolia)
  • 2 grams of swasari ras (a traditional herbo-mineral formulation)
  • 0.5 grams of tulsi ghanvati (Ocimum sanctum)

However, research on ashwagandha’s potential effects on inflammation remain limited.


Ashwagandha may help reduce inflammatory markers in the body. However, more research is needed.

Taking ashwagandha may benefit cognitive function.

One review of five clinical studies found early evidence that ashwagandha could improve cognitive functioning in certain populations, including older adults with mild cognitive impairment and people with schizophrenia.

Cognitive functions it may benefit included:

  • executive functioning
  • attention
  • reaction time
  • performance on cognitive tasks

A study in 50 adults showed that taking 600 mg of ashwagandha extract per day for 8 weeks led to significant improvements in the following measures compared with taking a placebo:

  • immediate and general memory
  • attention
  • information-processing speed

The researchers noted that compounds found in ashwagandha, including WA, have antioxidant effects in the brain, which may benefit cognitive health.

However, more research is needed before experts can draw strong conclusions.


Ashwagandha supplements may improve memory, reaction time, and the ability to perform tasks in certain populations. However, more research is needed.

Many people take ashwagandha to promote restful sleep, and some evidence suggests it may help with sleep issues.

For example, a study in 50 adults ages 65–80 found that taking 600 mg of ashwagandha root per day for 12 weeks significantly improved sleep quality and mental alertness upon waking compared with a placebo treatment.

Additionally, one review of five high quality studies found that ashwagandha appeared to:

  • have a small but significant positive effect on overall sleep quality
  • reduce anxiety levels
  • help people feel more alert when they woke up

The results were more pronounced in people with insomnia and in those who took more than 600 mg daily for 8 weeks or longer.


Recent evidence suggests that ashwagandha may be an effective natural remedy to improve sleep and may especially help people with insomnia.

Ashwagandha is likely safe for most people when used for up to 3 months, although its long-term effects are unknown.

However, ashwagandha may not be safe if a person:

Some people using ashwagandha supplements have reported the following adverse effects:

  • upper gastrointestinal discomfort
  • drowsiness
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting

Ashwagandha’s effects may not be immediate, and you may have to take it for several months before noticing its effects.

Always speak with a doctor to ensure ashwagandha or other supplements are safe for you to use.

Dosing recommendations for ashwagandha vary. For example, research has shown doses ranging from 250–1,250 mg per day to to be effective for different conditions. Consult a healthcare professional if you have questions regarding ashwagandha dosing.

You can take ashwagandha in many ways, in either a single dose or multiple doses per day. And you can take it either with meals or on an empty stomach.

How much ashwagandha can you take per day? Find out more.


Although ashwagandha is safe for most people, it’s not safe for everyone. It’s important to check with a healthcare professional before taking ashwagandha to ensure it’s safe for you and that you use a safe dose.

What are the benefits of taking ashwagandha?

Possible benefits of ashwagandha include:

  • reducing stress
  • improving sleep
  • boosting athletic performance
  • improving memory
  • increasing male fertility
  • reducing inflammation
  • managing blood sugar

What happens when you take ashwagandha daily?

The effects of ashwagandha will take time to appear, so a healthcare professional may recommend taking one dose daily. However, the long-term effects are unknown, and experts only recommend using it for up to 3 months.

Who should not take ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha may not be safe:

  • during pregnancy
  • while breastfeeding
  • if you have prostate cancer, thyroid problems, or an autoimmune condition
  • if you are about to have surgery
  • if you have liver problems
  • if you are taking benzodiazepines or other medications

Always check with a healthcare professional before using ashwagandha.

Why is Ashwagandha not FDA-approved?

Since Ashwagandha is a natural herbal supplement, it is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Ashwagandha is an ancient medicinal herb with various possible health benefits.

Study findings suggest that it may help reduce anxiety and stress, support restful sleep, and even improve cognitive functioning in certain populations.

Ashwagandha is likely safe for most people in the short term. However, it’s not appropriate for everyone, so it’s important to talk with a healthcare professional before adding ashwagandha to your routine.

Just one thing

Try this today: Here are more ideas to help you reduce stress:

  • Spend some time in the great outdoors.
  • Try to get enough sleep.
  • Move your body by participating in enjoyable activities.
  • Spend time with loved ones.
  • Set boundaries to protect and prioritize your physical and mental health.

Read this article for more ways to reduce stress and anxiety.

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