How Long Does it Take for Ashwagandha to Work?

ashwagandha powder and a spoon

If you ever feel stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed and have sought natural or alternative solutions for these issues, you may have heard of ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is becoming more well known for its potential health benefits, including its potential to reduce stress and balance hormones. If you are eager, like many with stress-related issues, needing relief ASAP, you may be wondering - "how long exactly does it take for ashwagandha’s benefits to work?" - Well, you have come to the right place to find out!

Ashwagandha, used for thousands of years in Ayuverdic medicine, is a plant with a plethora of healing properties. It's dense with antioxidants, polyphenols, iron, and even amino acids. It is touted to support everything from stress, to anxiety, sleep and cognition.

This introduction aims to arm you with all the knowledge you need to make an informed decision about its usage, benefits, what to expect, and how long it takes to kick in when using it. 

Key Takeaways

  • Ashwagandha is an ancient herb used for many health goals, such as lowering stress, enhancing cognitive function, and improving endurance and sexual function.
  • The dose, frequency, supplement in question, and each person’s physiology affect how long it takes for ashwagandha to work.
  • While some individuals may experience noticeable effects within a few days, Ashwagandha’s full effects can take 4-12 weeks to arise, so consistency is vital.

    What is Ashwagandha?

    Ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub plant found India, Africa, and the Middle East that produces vibrant red berries. Called winter cherry and Indian ginseng, "ashwagandha" roughly means "smell of a horse," named for the pungent stench of the plant’s roots. No need to worry; most ashwagandha products don’t smell nearly as bad as their source materials.

    Many cultures, especially Ayurvedic practices, have used ashwagandha as a traditional medicine for thousands of years. Practitioners believed it to improve longevity, build endurance and physical strength, and enhance sexual activity. Most supplements grind a powder from the plant’s roots, though the berries are sometimes used in some products. 

    Ashwagandha is an adaptogen that generally boosts the body's wellness and ability to cope with everyday life's physical and mental stress. Some studies suggest that a possible mechanism by which ashwagandha works is by reducing overall cortisol levels, which are responsible for the subjective feelings of stress response.

    We still lack a comprehensive scientific understanding of how ashwagandha works in the body, but early evidence supports its ability to improve many physiological systems. Heightened mental function, reduced anxiety, and better sleep are all hallmarks of ashwagandha’s abilities. As such, individuals seeking to enhance their overall performance and productivity can reap its many benefits in a single herb.

    What to Look Out For:

    • You may start to feel "more chill". If you are constantly stressed, you may notice the constant background buzz of anxiety quieting down.
    • Better sleep: You notice a shift from counting your breaths (or sheep) at 2 am to actually sleeping. Revolutionary, we know!
    • Increased in energy: But not the jittery, too-much-coffee kind. More like, "Hey, maybe I will go for that morning jog" kind of energy.

    Health Benefits of Ashwagandha

    Traditional Ayurvedic medicine has used ashwagandha for centuries as a revered, medicinal herb. It is known for its potential health benefits, which include reducing stress and anxiety. Ashwagandha has adaptogenic properties, meaning it helps the body adapt to stressors and promotes a sense of calmness and relaxation, even helping improve sleep. Some studies indicate that ashwagandha may help reduce cortisol levels, the hormone associated with stress, thereby alleviating symptoms of anxiety and improving overall mental well-being.

    Anti-flammatory

    Ashwagandha has also been studied for its potential anti-inflammatory abilities. Chronic inflammation is considered to a contributor to many chronic illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.

    Cognitive health

    Ashwagandha may also have positive effects on brain health and cognitive function. One study suggested a dose of 300mg of ashwagandha taken twice daily improved memory, attention, and information processing speed. It has also been found to promote nerve cell growth and protect them from oxidative stress. These neuroprotective properties potentially reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

    Sexual performance

    Lastly, ashwagandha has been found to have potential benefits for sexual health and fertility. It may help improve sperm quality and motility in men, regulate menstrual cycles and enhance fertility in women. Ashwagandha has also been used traditionally as an aphrodisiac, with some studies suggesting it may improve sexual function and libido.

    Potential Side Effects

    There are relatively few (if any) side effects associated with ashwagandha use, and it’s generally considered safe for adults to take at recommended doses. 

    However, some studies found that participants experienced minor digestive issues and discomfort. While these may be related to other ingredients in certain ashwagandha supplements, it's important to read your labels and make sure you’re not consuming any ingredients to which you’re sensitive or trying to avoid intake.

    The Slow Burn of Ashwagandha: Patience is Key

    First things first, if you're expecting to pop an Ashwagandha pill and immediately feel zen-like a monk on a mountaintop, you might need to recalibrate your expectations. Unlike coffee, which kicks in faster than you can say "caffeine," Ashwagandha is more of a slow ride. Think of it as planting a seed. You water it (take your supplement), and then...you wait. 

    While ashwagandha offers plenty of reasons to take it, many miss out on the herb’s benefits because they don’t stick with it long enough to see its effects. Ashwagandha doesn’t work immediately; in fact, many studies suggest it takes 4-12 weeks for any noticeable results to occur.

    How fast ashwagandha starts working depends on many factors, including the type of supplement, dose size, frequency of consumption, and even an individual’s body chemistry. As individuals add ashwagandha to their self-care routine, it’s important to factor this delay into expectations and how they want to reach their health goals.

    The best way to determine when ashwagandha’s effects start working and one’s personal experience with the supplement is to track consumption and impact over time. Keeping a journal and evaluating markers such as sleep quality, mood, energy level, physical endurance, and stress tolerance/levels will give you a good understanding of when or whether the ashwagandha is working. Review every four weeks or so to observe any shifts in trends.

    When to Take Ashwagandha

    The best time of day to take an ashwagandha depends on one’s individual preferences, schedule, and needs. Some take it first thing in the morning with breakfast to support mental clarity and their ability to focus. Others use it in the evening as part of their wind-down ritual. As mentioned above, consistency is the primary factor in enjoying ashwagandha’s health benefits, so pick a time each day when it’ll be easy to remember to take it.

    The Bottom Line

    Ashwagandha offers effective and robust benefits, significantly influencing physical, emotional, and mental health. However, the time it takes for ashwagandha to start working for anxiety and other needs depends on the user’s physiology, as well as other factors ike dosage, potency, and how often its taken. While it takes anywhere from 1-3 months for people to start noticing these effects, it’s worth the wait to enjoy its positive impact with consistent use. 

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How do I know if ashwagandha is working?

    When taking ashwagandha, it's essential to understand that the effects may vary from person to person. However, a few signs can indicate if ashwagandha is working for you. You may observe a reduction in anxiety symptoms, improved sleep quality, or better ability to handle stress. Any of these indicators could be a sign that ashwaghanda is working for you.

    How immediate are the effects of ashwagandha?

    The herb's effects can vary from person to person, and it is essential to understand that it may not provide immediate relief for everyone. While some individuals may experience noticeable effects within a few days or weeks, others may require several weeks or even months of consistent use before experiencing the full benefits of ashwagandha for anxiety relief and other health benefits.

    How does ashwagandha make you feel?

    While effects vary, some individuals may experience a sense of calmness and relaxation after taking ashwagandha, while others may notice improvements in their energy levels and focus. Others use it for more specific health goals, such as improved endurance or enhanced sexual function. 

    Sources

    1. Cheah, K. L., Norhayati, M. N., Yaacob, L. H., & Rahman, R. A. (2021). Effect of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract on sleep: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLOS ONE, 16(9), e0257843. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0257843
    2. Choudhary, D., Bhattacharyya, S., & Joshi, K. (2016). Body weight management in adults under chronic stress through treatment with ashwagandha root extract. Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 22(1), 96–106. https://doi.org/10.1177/2156587216641830 
    3. Mikulska, P., Malinowska, M., Ignacyk, M., Szustowski, P., Nowak, J., Pesta, K., Szeląg, M., Szklanny, D., Judasz, E., Kaczmarek, G., Ejiohuo, O., Paczkowska-Walendowska, M., Gościniak, A., & Cielecka‐Piontek, J. (2023). Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)—Current Research on the Health-Promoting Activities: A Narrative Review. Pharmaceutics, 15(4), 1057. https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmaceutics15041057 
    4. Choudhary, D., Bhattacharyya, S., & Bose, S. (2017). Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal) Root Extract in Improving Memory and Cognitive Functions. Journal of Dietary Supplements, 14(6), 599–612. https://doi.org/10.1080/19390211.2017.1284970 
    5. Ambiye, V. R., Langade, D., Dongre, S., Aptikar, P., Kulkarni, M., & Dongre, A. (2013). Clinical Evaluation of the Spermatogenic Activity of the Root Extract of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in Oligospermic Males: A Pilot Study. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013, 1–6. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/571420 
    6. Dongre, S., Langade, D., & Bhattacharyya, S. (2015). Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract in Improving Sexual Function in Women: A Pilot Study. BioMed Research International, 2015, 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/284154 

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