Written by Ben Bunting: BA(Hons), PGCert.
If you're considering trying ashwagandha, you should understand some of the side effects and interactions with your medications.
Also, read about the safety for diabetics and pregnant women.
Ashwagandha may not be for everyone, so be sure to talk to your doctor first.
Side effects of ashwagandha
One of the side effects of ashwagandha is a decreased white blood cell count, putting cancer patients at a higher risk for infections.
However, there are some cases in which ashwagandha is a complementary cancer treatment.
Stress can also affect the nervous system, and ashwagandha is known to protect the brain from degeneration. It also contains powerful antioxidants that help destroy free radicals.
One study found that ashwagandha increased muscle strength and decreased body fat in men.
Its effects were measured by changes in the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS), a test of how well people handle stress.
Another study found that it improved VO2 max and increased strength in healthy adults and athletes.
Likewise, ashwagandha can help reduce the symptoms of depression.
Researchers in India have conducted a study that compared the effects of ashwagandha with those of common pharmaceutical drugs.
Interactions with medications
Although there is no evidence to suggest that ashwagandha is toxic, some studies have shown that it has anti-inflammatory effects and reduces inflammation in laboratory animals.
Some animal studies suggest that it can lower blood sugar levels, improve immune function, and kill cancer cells. These benefits have not been confirmed in human trials.
While the benefits of ashwagandha for diabetes are unknown, it may lower blood sugar levels and interact with drugs used for hyperglycemia and antihyperglycemic medications.
Because ashwagandha supports the immune system, it can interact with immunosuppressants.
These medications suppress the immune system's activity and reduce the amount of antibodies in the body. Combining ashwagandha with immunosuppressants may lower their effectiveness.
Immunosuppressants include azathioprine, cyclosporine, mycophenolate, and prednisone, as well as corticosteroids.
Immunosuppressive drugs may be prescribed for various conditions, such as psoriasis, to prevent the rejection of organ transplants.
Side effects of ashwagandha in diabetics
If you have diabetes, you may be wondering if ashwagandha has any side effects in diabetics.
The herb has several functions, including stimulating the immune system, lowering blood glucose levels, and reducing triglycerides.
However, you should consult your doctor before taking ashwagandha if you are diabetic.
Aside from these beneficial effects, ashwagandha can also cause side effects in diabetics.
In general, ashwagandha can improve insulin secretion and increase the sensitivity of muscle cells to insulin.
This is good news for diabetics. Diabetes has risen 40 percent in the last decade, and the drug ashwagandha may help.
Ashwagandha also decreases the stress hormone cortisol, which is released by the adrenal glands in response to stress and low blood sugar levels.
Side effects of ashwagandha in pregnant women
Ashwagandha is an ancient herb that has skyrocketed in popularity over the past few years.
Although it's been used in traditional Middle Eastern medicine for thousands of years, many pregnant women are curious about its potential benefits and side effects.
As a herbal supplement, ashwagandha is generally safe during pregnancy and may be an option for some women. However, there are some things to keep in mind before trying it during your pregnancy.
The main concern with taking ashwagandha during pregnancy is the possibility of early menstruation.
For this reason, it's recommended to talk to your physician before incorporating ashwagandha into your diet. During pregnancy, ashwagandha can be helpful for boosting milk production, but you should not take large amounts of it.
Excessive intake is linked to increased risk of abortion. To prevent such risks, ayurvedic experts recommend that pregnant women take ashwagandha on a limited basis.
According to ayurvedic experts, a teaspoon to a quarter teaspoon a day may be sufficient. Nonetheless, it's always best to speak with your doctor first.