Can you take ashwagandha on an empty stomach? What is ashwagandha and how does it work? In this guide, we’ll answer all of your questions about this ancient adaptogen, including the best way to take ashwagandha and who can benefit from it the most!
What is ashwagandha?
If you were to ask an herbalist if there was one herb that everyone could benefit from, their answer would likely be ashwagandha. Whether you take ashwagandha on an empty stomach or with a meal, natural health experts recommend it as a go-to remedy for everything from stress and anxiety to increasing energy and reducing cholesterol, and so much more.
Ashwagandha is an ancient ayurvedic herb that’s native to the Middle East, India, and Africa. The plant itself is small with velvety leaves. It produces bell-shaped flowers and eventually orange fruits that look similar to a tomato. Sometimes it’s called “Indian winter cherry” or “Indian ginseng.”
Ashwagandha is now grown all across the globe. It can be found in the supplement aisle of most health food stores, big box stores, and pharmacies.
Can you take ashwagandha on an empty stomach? What’s the best way to take it?
Yes, you can take ashwagandha on an empty stomach. In fact, many people find that it’s more effective when taken without food. Most herbalists do recommend taking ashwagandha on an empty stomach, with a full glass of water, sometime between breakfast and lunch.
When used in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle, some people begin to notice the benefits of ashwagandha after just two weeks of taking 600 milligrams daily. Ashwagandha has very few side effects or interactions, but in rare cases, it may cause stomach upset, sleepiness, and headache.
If you do find that it causes some stomach discomfort, you can take it with a light snack or a small meal. When choosing your ashwagandha supplement, look for one that’s certified organic and non-GMO. Look for a pure product that doesn’t have any added ingredients or fillers.
It’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor before taking any supplements, especially if you take medication or have a health condition. Don’t take ashwagandha while you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
What is an adaptogen?
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen. To be classified as an adaptogen, an herb must benefit overall health and wellbeing and be non-toxic. But most importantly, an adaptogenic herb must regulate and reduce stress by helping the body adapt to it.
Stress is harmful to your health, especially the immune, neurological, and endocrine systems. Adaptogens, like ashwagandha, have stimulating properties that help to counteract the harmful effects of stress.
The Health Benefits of Ashwagandha
In Ayurveda, ashwagandha is considered to be an overall tonic for rejuvenating the body. Traditionally, it has been used for energy, digestive health, insomnia, fever, endurance, and eye health. It is also beneficial for cognitive health, boosting the immune system, and managing stress.
Here’s a deeper look at the benefits of ashwagandha, according to modern research:
- Stress and Anxiety: As mentioned above, ashwagandha is an adaptogen. Adaptogens help the body manage stress and anxiety. In this modern age, anxiety and stress are common issues for people of all ages, especially workplace stress. Ashwagandha offers a safe alternative to pharmaceutical drugs for reducing moderate to severe anxiety. It may even reduce cortisol levels and boost the body’s resistance to stress.
- Depression: In addition to helping the body manage stress, ashwagandha also has a positive effect on your mood. So, it’s beneficial for those suffering from depression, as well.
- Thyroid Health: There’s a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck that’s called the thyroid. The hormones produced in this tiny gland play an important role in many crucial body functions. If this gland is out of balance, it can lead to issues like lack of focus, hair loss, and weight gain. Ashwagandha can reduce cortisol, which is beneficial for regulating the thyroid. According to studies, ashwagandha can help normalize thyroid levels caused by certain thyroid disorders.
- Cognitive Health: Cognitive health becomes a real concern as we age. Alzheimer’s is a fatal disease of the brain and it is the sixth most common cause of death in the US. Sadly, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s. However, research shows that ashwagandha can relieve the symptoms that accompany Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. This includes memory loss, inability to focus, and feelings of being anxious and overwhelmed.
- Cancer: Although more research still needs to be done on using ashwagandha for cancer treatment, it shows great potential. Withanolides, the naturally occurring steroids found in ashwagandha, have been shown to slow or stop the growth of breast, lung, and colon cancer cells without harming normal cells. It may be even more effective when used in combination with certain anti-cancer drugs for the treatment of ovarian cancer.
- Immune System: In Ayurvedic tradition, ashwagandha is recognized as one of the most potent immune boosters for people of all ages. Modern studies show that it does indeed stimulate the immune system, which helps the body fight viral and bacterial infections.
- Stamina: Many conditions and lifestyle factors can affect sexual wellness and stamina. Ashwagandha supports sexual performance and reproductive health for both men and women. Not only that, but it also improves cardiovascular endurance, increases muscle strength and mass, and boosts overall strength in those who work out regularly.
- Cardiovascular Health: Cardiovascular health is a leading concern among both men and women, especially as you age. Ashwagandha functions as an antioxidant, protecting the heart and reducing inflammation. It also regulates cortisol levels, which reduces the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular issues.
- Fertility: Stress plays a key role in infertility, so it’s no surprise that ashwagandha can help with fertility issues. It also supports the endocrine system, which is vital to female reproductive health. For men, ashwagandha also nourishes the reproductive hormones and can be used in conjunction with other male infertility treatments.
Just about anyone can benefit from taking ashwagandha. This ancient is herb is a powerful adaptogen and antioxidant, so it’s especially useful for those suffering from chronic stress and anxiety. Be sure to take ashwagandha on an empty stomach to maximize its benefits!