Common Name: Ashwagandha, Winter Cherry (Withania Somnifera)
Indian Ayurvedic adaptogen. Parts used: roots.
My Experience With Ashwagandha:
Ashwagandha is referred to as the “female ginseng.” I take 715mg of Ashwagandha as part of my Lyme protocol 5 and for it’s other potential benefits, though I’ve seen recommendations of up to 2g for chronic Lyme. Historical uses for Ashwagandha include for backache, fibromyalgia, PMS symptoms, anxiety, thyroid, and liver problems. Lyme can mimic fibromyalgia and many other syndromes, and I’ve found spontaneous muscle weakness, pain, and spasms to be a part of my own history.
My herbal regimen does seem to help all of these issues, though at this time I’m unsure how much of my hormone, anxiety, or PMS improvements are due to this herb- though there does seem to be quite a bit of research supporting the idea that Ashwagandha could be helping these things.
However, as a specific herb for chronic Lyme I know Ashwagandha has had an effect. I had a MASSIVE herx reaction (including one of my worst dizzy spells to date) when I tried it for the first time around 2013 or 2014 – this was back before I knew I had chronic Lyme, and I assumed that I just couldn’t handle Ashwagandha and stopped taking it (I even threw away the pills!).
After I learned I had chronic Lyme, and after learning about herx reactions, I knew what had happened and decided to try it again back in 2018. I had a milder herx reaction that quickly subsided, and this was the beginning of me getting my Lyme symptoms to a more manageable level. As of March 2021 I still take Ashwagandha for my chronic Lyme (I take occasional breaks, and don’t recommend staying on herbs non-stop for long periods). [UPDATE 1/18/2023 – I’ve been feeling amazing lately, and feel I’ve nearly beaten this beast. I still take ashwagandha daily!]
Chronic Lyme disease: this is my main daily herb for chronic Lyme treatment. Coupled with goldenseal, I’ve nearly beat all my symptoms as of early 2023! Being a tonic for the nervous system and auto-immune issues, it’s a good fit for those struggling with chronic Lyme.
Ashwagandha benefits for women: ashwagandha is known as the “female ginseng” – it’s anti-inflammatory properties, promotion of health and energy, and general immune building make it a great option for many women!
Chronic Fatigue: I’ve had chronic fatigue for decades now, and I’m still prone to this issue on occasion. However, I have far more energy and far fewer bad days now that I’m getting my health turned around!
One study reports that ashwagandha supplementation is associated with significant increases in muscle mass and strength and suggests that ashwagandha supplementation may be useful in conjunction with a resistance training program. 1
From another research article, there is a high level of anti-stress activity and even a natural steroidal component to Ashwagandha (An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda):
“Aswagandha is compared well with Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian Ginseng) and Panax Ginseng (Chinese / Korean Ginseng) in its adaptogenic properties, and hence it is popularly known as Indian Ginseng… The extensive studies on the biological model of animals for the adaptogenic / anti-stress properties of Ashwagandha… have shown it to be effective in increasing the stamina (physical endurance) and preventing stress induced gastric ulcer, carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) induced hepatotoxicity and mortality…
An aqueous suspension of Ashwagandha root was used at 100 mg/kg/oral dosage. The results indicate a significant increase in the plasma corticosterone level, phagocytic index and avidity index in rats subjected to cold swimming stress. In the rats pretreated with the drug, these parameters were near control values and an increase in the swimming time was observed. These results indicate that Withania somnifera used in the crude form is a potent anti-stress agent. The results of above studies lend support to the hypothesis of tonics, vitalizers and rejuvenators of Ayurveda which indicate clinical use of Withania somnifera in the prevention and treatment of many stress induced diseases like arteriosclerosis, premature ageing, arthritis, diabetes, hypertension and malignancy…” 2
I use 715 mg daily, as I do take a lot of different herbs daily and try to stick to recommended dosages rather than “therapeutic” doses. If needed, I may trial raising the amounts of this one at some point, and will update this page if I do. For now, I’ve found a nice balance and have no interest in rocking the boat!
For Horses and Pets:
I’ve given human doses to my PSSM horse on occasion, but haven’t tried a longer term (week or longer) trial with him. I treat this herb like I treat ginger, cinnamon, astragalus, and others when it comes to my horse – I give it on occasion to add variety to his diet, not as a specific treatment for an ailment.
Ashwagandha is a GABA agonist, like Valerian, St. John’s Wort, and Ginseng. Both Ashwagandha and Ginseng have a tendency to get my horse more “up” – which is typically not needed with my high energy boy! Valerian and St. John’s Wort (SJW in human doses only) both lower anxiety and help him when he’s anxious.
That said, I do make some mixes that include Ginseng and Ashwagandha and they work amazing for my horse, so I feel that some of these herbs work better for some individuals in a combination rather than viewed/used as a single herb.
As always, take care when adding herbal supplements to an animal’s ration – they can’t always tell us when something doesn’t agree with them! If you’d like to learn more about my horse with Polysaccharide Muscle Myopathy, or PSSM, see my Jax’s Story site.
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Historical uses for Ashwagandha, with research articles:
Historical uses that I’ve found through herbal study, backed up with scientific research:
- Promoting health and vitality, energy tonic 2
- “It has anxiolytic effect and improves energy levels and mitochondrial health…”
- Enhancing immunity and treating inflammation 2
- “Withaferin A and 3-b-hydroxy-2,3-dihydrowithanolide F isolated from Withania somnifera show promising antibacterial, antitumoral, immunomodulating and anti-inflammatory properties…”
- Nervous disorders and arthritis pain 2
- Stress and anxiety 3
- “Conclusion: Ashwagandha root aqueous extract was beneficial in reducing stress and anxiety.”
- Degenerative diseases, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 3
- Epstein Barr virus and other auto-immune diseases 3
- Chronic Lyme Disease 5
- Loss of memory 2
- Reduce the incidence of stress-induced ulcers 2 (see 2nd quote above)
- Antibiotic/Antifungal against some pathogens 4
High doses can act as a cardiac and respiratory stimulant, have sedative effects, or depressant effects on higher cerebral centers. Large doses can cause stomach upset and vomiting.
Seek medical advise if you’re pregnant, have diabetes, high or low blood pressure, stomach ulcers, autoimmune diseases, thyroid disorders, or are to undergo surgery.
Where To Purchase:
Note: I earn a commission on some links, at no cost to you. Purchasing through these links is a great way to support this site!
I purchase my Ashwagandha powder through two sources, both of which are very fine powder and great for mixing in my morning tea:
Bulk Supplements’ Fo-Ti has no sugar, soy, dairy, yeast, gluten, or other additives. This is the company I use for pea protein, and bulk herbs in larger amounts, etc. Some of my herbs, like cissus quadrangularis, can be found here when MRH doesn’t carry them.
Research Articles and Sources:
- An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda – The available scientific data support the conclusion that Ashwagandha is a real potent regenerative tonic (Rasayana of Ayurveda), due to its multiple pharmacological actions like anti-stress, neuroprotective, antitumor, anti-arthritic, analgesic and anti-inflammatory etc. It is useful for different types of diseases like Parkinson, dementia, memory loss, stress induced diseases, malignoma and others.
- Adaptogenic and Anxiolytic Effects of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Healthy Adults: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Clinical Study – …persistent stress response due to the environmental and social reasons may aid in developing complicated health issues such as cardiovascular disorders, hypertension, depression, panic attacks, impaired memory and cognition, digestive problems, fatigue syndrome and autoimmune disorders.
- Antimicrobial properties of a non-toxic glycoprotein (WSG) from Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) – The protein designated WSG (Withania somnifera glycoprotein) demonstrated potent antimicrobial activity against the phytopathogenic fungi and bacteria tested…
- LymeDisease.org – Natural remedies for the chronic inflammation of Lyme disease
More Research Articles About Ashwagandha:
An Alternative Treatment for Anxiety: A Systematic Review of Human Trial Results Reported for the Ayurvedic Herb Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) – All five studies concluded that WS intervention resulted in greater score improvements (significantly in most cases) than placebo in outcomes on anxiety or stress scales.