Ashwagandha for Insomnia?
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Claudia
Posted on: November 24, 2005

I was given ashwagandha about 6 months ago for insomnia. How long is it safe to continue to take a dropper in the evening? Are there any possible side effects from it? I was told it helps lower cortisol, the stress hormone.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) has been used safely in India for thousands of years, to increase endurance to stress, to promote strength and endurance in cases of fatigue and sexual impotency and for recuperation after illness. It is not known to have side effects.

I have heard of only one case where it caused a problem: heart palpitations that started when a patient took ashwagandha, and stopped when the ashwagandha was withdrawn. Because this was such an irregular reaction, it is thought that the ashwagandha used may have been contaminated. Ashwagandha should not be used with barbiturates (sedative or hypnotic drugs or herbs) because it will potentiate the sedative or hypnotic effects.

The dose you are taking is small. The normal dose of a tincture is 20 to 40 drops, three times daily. It is unlikely to cause side effects at this dosage. I believe it is a good idea to change herbal remedies to avoid a remedy becoming ineffective over a long term. For information on other herbs used for insomnia, please see our website at www.richters.com. Choose "Q&A" from the main menu, then enter "insomnia" for the search.

Ashwagandha is known to protect against stress, which usually means protecting the adrenal glands, which could indicate that it helps to balance the adrenal hormone cortisol. As far as I know, the mechanism of how ashwagandha works is not known.

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