Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera, winter cherry, or Indian ginseng, is an herb that has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic, Indian, Unani, and traditional African medicine.
In the last few years, ashwagandha has made its way over to western countries and has been praised by health enthusiasts for its ability to help people suffering from a myriad of conditions, from arthritis and anxiety to Parkinson’s disease and liver disease. Plenty of people are on the ashwagandha train, but others are still skeptical.
This skepticism isn’t necessarily unwarranted, especially since the herb’s popularity has resulted in the development and sale of several less-than-credible products.
In order to reap the benefits of ashwagandha, it’s important to choose a high-quality supplement. In this article, we’ll teach you how to find the best Ashwagandha supplements and explain how you can incorporate them safely into your diet.
Types of Ashwagandha Supplements
Ashwagandha supplements come in three main forms: powders, liquid extracts, and capsules. Each form comes with its own benefits and drawbacks.
Of the three, the powder is the most economical option for consuming ashwagandha. It’s also very versatile. It’s great to cook with and can be mixed easily into liquids for drinking.
Liquid Extract and Capsules
Ashwagandha liquid extract and capsules tend to be more expensive than powdered options.
However, they are both easy to consume and are ideal for people who travel a lot and don’t want to carry a container of powder around with them. Those who just want a simple option for dosing will also enjoy ashwagandha in its liquid or capsule form.
How to Choose Quality Supplements
As with any product, not all ashwagandha supplements are created equal. To reap the full benefits of ashwagandha and avoid experiencing any adverse effects, it’s important to look for products that have a sufficient amount of active ingredients but don’t contain any harmful contaminants or additives.
1. Active Ingredients
When you’re looking at the label on supplement package, don’t just focus on the amount of ashwagandha powder present in each serving. What’s actually more important is the percentage of active ingredients. The active ingredients in ashwagandha root include withanolides, alkaloids, and saponins. Most supplements contain somewhere between 1.5 and 4.5 percent active ingredients.
Look for ashwagandha supplements that are certified organic. This will help you ensure that the product is not contaminated with heavy metals like lead or mercury. You should also avoid buying products that aren’t tested by third-party laboratories. These labs test for heavy metals, pesticides, and microbiological pathogens like Salmonella and E. Coli.
3. Fillers and Additives
Avoid ashwagandha supplements (and any supplement, for that matter) that list “other ingredients” on the label. This is a code word for fillers and additives that could potentially be harmful and won’t provide any additional health benefits. You should be able to identify every single component in your supplements, especially if you’re going to be taking them for a long time.
How Much Should I Take?
Ashwagandha is easy to dose in liquid and capsule form, but powder gets a little trickier.
Generally speaking, 15-30 grams of powder is considered a high dose. This is most beneficial for people dealing with severe fatigue, insomnia, or stress. High doses should only be used for short periods of time, until acute conditions are stabilized.
A moderate dose typically ranges from 2-5 grams and is best for chronic insomnia or anxiety. It can also be used in moderation during recuperative periods for its general health benefits.
How to Incorporate Ashwagandha Powder into Your Diet
On its own, ashwagandha powder has a bitter taste that most people don’t enjoy. Luckily, there are lots of ways to get all of its benefits without having to plug your nose while you eat or drink it.
Listed below are four tasty options that will make it easy for you to make ashwagandha part of your daily routine.
One of the tastiest ways to incorporate ashwagandha into your diet is to mix it into a smoothie.
Simply mix frozen fruit, milk, and about two tablespoons of ashwagandha powder together in a blender. You can easily customize your smoothie to fit your specific preferences by adding things like nut butter, cinnamon, honey, or yogurt as well.
You can also mask the bitter taste of ashwagandha by mixing it into your favorite baked goods. Use a couple tablespoons of it alongside other dry ingredients (flour, sugar, etc.) to make cookies, brownies, bars, or any other dessert that you want to make a little healthier.
The simplest way to make ashwagandha tea is to mix about one teaspoon of the powder into a cup of boiling water or milk. Let it cool and then add sugar to sweeten it.
Ashwagandha works well in baked goods, but it can also be mixed into savory recipes like pasta.
Simply mix the powder in with other dry ingredients, as you would if you were baking with it, and then cook your pasta according to your favorite recipe.
Ashwagandha supplements are generally considered to be very safe. However, some people have experienced stomach issues (pain, diarrhea, etc.) after consuming too much of it. To avoid such discomfort, it’s best to start with a small amount to let your body adjust.
People with the following conditions should exercise caution when consuming Ashwagandha supplements:
- Pregnancy: Ashwagandha has, in some instances, been linked to miscarriage.
- Diabetes: Monitor blood sugar when consuming since ashwagandha has been known to lower blood sugar levels.
- High or low blood pressure: Ashwagandha may lower blood pressure and interfere with any medications you’re currently taking.
- Thyroid conditions: Ashwagandha has the potential to increase thyroid hormone levels and could interfere with certain medications.
Ashwagandha also has the potential to intensify the effects of sedative medications since it can cause drowsiness. It’s recommended to avoid these types of medications while also supplementing with ashwagandha.
Ashwagandha supplements offer a variety of health benefits and can be incorporated into just about anyone’s daily routine.
Keep these tips in mind if you’ve been hesitant to try ashwagandha, especially in its powdered form. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel (and how much better it tastes)!