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Is Ashwagandha Safe?

Ashwagandha is generally safe for short-term use, but long-term safety is unclear. It may cause mild side effects like drowsiness and stomach upset.

Ashwagandha, a popular herb in Ayurvedic medicine, is known for its potential health benefits. However, its safety profile varies depending on the duration of use and individual health conditions.

Short-Term Safety

Ashwagandha is considered safe for most people when used for up to three months. Studies have shown that it can help reduce stress, improve sleep, and enhance overall well-being without significant adverse effects. Common side effects include mild drowsiness, stomach upset, and diarrhea.

Common Side Effects

  • Drowsiness
  • Stomach upset
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea

These side effects are usually mild and transient. In clinical trials, participants tolerated ashwagandha well, with no significant changes in vital signs or biochemical markers.

Long-Term Safety

The long-term safety of ashwagandha is not well-documented. Most studies have only examined its effects for up to three months. There is limited information on its safety over extended periods. Some reports suggest potential liver toxicity and thyroid issues with prolonged use.

Potential Long-Term Risks

  • Liver toxicity
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Hormonal imbalances

These risks highlight the need for more research to understand the long-term effects of ashwagandha.

Special Precautions

Certain groups should exercise caution when using ashwagandha. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, individuals with autoimmune diseases, and those with thyroid disorders should avoid it. Ashwagandha may interact with medications, including sedatives, immunosuppressants, and thyroid hormone medications.

Who Should Avoid Ashwagandha?

  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • People with autoimmune diseases
  • Individuals with thyroid disorders
  • Those taking specific medications

Consulting a healthcare provider before starting ashwagandha is essential for these groups.

Clinical Evidence

Several studies have explored the benefits and safety of ashwagandha. A randomized, placebo-controlled study found that ashwagandha root extract was safe for healthy adults over eight weeks. No significant adverse events were reported, and vital signs remained stable.

Study Findings

  • Safe for short-term use (up to 8 weeks)
  • No significant adverse events
  • Stable vital signs and biochemical markers

These findings support the short-term safety of ashwagandha but emphasize the need for further research on long-term use.

Conclusion

Ashwagandha is generally safe for short-term use, with mild side effects. However, its long-term safety remains uncertain. Special precautions are necessary for certain groups, and consulting a healthcare provider is recommended. More research is needed to fully understand the long-term effects and safety of ashwagandha.

For more detailed information, you can refer to the sources provided by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Nutritional Medicine Institute.

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