Ashwagandha has been used in traditional medicines like ayurveda and unani since ancient times. It is a perennial shrub mainly grown in the Asian and African countries, also known as Indian ginseng. Ashwagandha has long been used for its beneficial effects on the body. It has anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, and antioxidant properties.
Whenever we consume any health supplements we always have some questions in mind like how long does ashwagandha take to work, how fast ashwagandha works, does it works immediately, how do I know that it's really working, and so on.
Understanding Ashwagandha’s Time Frame
How any product reacts in your body depends on factors like the purity of substance that you use, the quantity of herb, the amount of active ingredient that is absorbed from the gut, how your body metabolizes this product, and so on. Blood carries these active chemicals to various organs of the body but these effects can vary from one person to another.
Furthermore, all the organs of your body do not respond similarly to ashwagandha. Some organs respond quickly while others may take time to show their reaction to this herb. Therefore, you may not notice all the effects of ashwagandha at the same time. So if you are wondering how long does ashwagandha take to work for anxiety, and how long does ashwagandha take to work for testosterone, the answer can vary from person to person.
For Sleep Quality
Stress and anxiety are the main factors that disturb sleep. Ashwagandha acts on different subtypes of GABA receptors(1) separately which is key to its adaptogenic potential. In an animal study, it was found that ashwagandha increases serotonin receptor activity too. It decreases stress and anxiety. Once stress is decreased your sleep quality will improve dramatically.
For sleep quality, the onset of action of ashwagandha can vary between individuals. A meta-analysis(2) involving 400 participants showed that ashwagandha when taken at doses higher than 600mg/day dose for 8 weeks improved sleep quality significantly.
Another randomized controlled trial done among 60 college students of age 18 to 50 years showed that Ashwagandha root extract when taken at 700mg per day showed improved sleep and mental clarity in 30 days(3).
To summarize, ashwagandha takes about 4 to 8 weeks to have a noticeable improvement in sleep quality. Again it depends on the amount of pills that you are taking, the dosage frequency, and your body's metabolism.
Fertility and Sexual Function
For proper sexual function, male and female partners need to be in mood, have arousal, erection in male, lubrication in female, and orgasm. Stress is a common factor that deteriorates sexual function followed by hormonal disbalance mainly androgenic hormone. Ashwagandha decreases stress and thus improves sexual performance in both males and females.
Besides this, it activates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) to increase the production of luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) in females, and androgens (testosterone) in males(4).
Though these hormones are present in both genders, the quantity of production and their effect differs between males and females. This activation leads to increased sperm production and motility. Also, it improves libido, lubrication, and orgasm during sexual intercourse.
A randomized controlled trial (RCT) done on 80 healthy heterosexual women showed that taking Ashwagandha at 300mg twice a day for 8 weeks improved parameters of sexual function(5) (desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, sexual satisfaction, and pain) significantly.
Studies have shown that with regular use of 675mg per day of Ashwagandha for 90 days, sperm count and motility(6) increased by more than 50%.
For Hair Growth
Ashwagandha is rich in antioxidants(7) like flavonoids, catechin, polyphenols, etc. that promote hair growth. Antioxidants are known to prevent damage too. It increases Dihydroepiandroesterone (DHEA) levels in the blood.
DHEA(8) stimulates hair growth. It prevents damage because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and increases the thickness of hair. It decreases stress in the body which also helps to promote hair growth. It also increases blood circulation in the scalp which also helps in hair growth. There are only a few studies on the duration taken by ashwagandha to show action. A study showed that it takes at least 8 weeks(9) to see the visible effect on hair growth.
For Thyroid Health
Ashwagandha increases thyroid hormone levels in the body. A RCT showed a decrease in thyroid stimulating hormone(10) after using ashwagandha 600mg daily for at least 8 weeks to detect an increase in thyroid hormone levels in the body.
If you are taking medicine for increased thyroid hormone levels you may need to increase the drug dose as ashwagandha further increases thyroid hormone and if you are taking drugs for decreased thyroid hormone you may need to decrease the drug as it also increases hormone levels. It is better to consult your doctor to adjust medicines for thyroid disorders when you are taking ashwagandha.
Muscle Strength and Growth
Ashwagandha decreases not only mental stress but also physical stress. It decreases the soreness of muscles and lessens fatigue. It strengthens muscle power.
When activities related to physical fitness/resistance training/ gym are done along with the consumption of Ashwagandha, it potentiates the increase of muscle strength(11), and the desired result is achieved sooner. It also helps in the recovery of injured muscles.
A study (RCT) done among 57 individuals who consumed 300mg of ashwagandha two times a day for 8 weeks had significantly improved muscle strength during resistance exercises(12). It also decreases exercise-induced muscle injury. It takes around 8 weeks to see the effect after continuous consumption.
Stress and Enhancing Well-being
Ashwagandha has GABAergic property which decreases anxiety and stress of life. It boosts immunity and has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. All these factors increase the overall well-being of the body. It can take 8 to 12 weeks time to see the result however the level of effect and duration taken to show effect can vary among individuals.
Assessing Ashwagandha’s Impact
The effect of nutraceuticals like Ashwagandha can be felt very slowly even one may not realize its effects. It is a good idea to maintain a logbook of problems that you had before starting the product and revisit the logbook in a certain time interval, let's say one week. The degree of effect of Ashwagandha depends on how frequently you are using the product. If you are using the product daily then you will have the desired effect sooner than in the individual with missed doses.
FAQs on How Long Does Ashwagandha Take to Work
How Do I Know if Ashwagandha is Working?
It is really a tricky question as it may take 8 to 12 weeks in general to realize the effects of ashwagandha. Even it may go unnoticed. It is better to maintain a logbook to note why you are taking ashwagandha and revisit the issues in certain time intervals like once a week. You may feel improved sleep, reduced stress, increased energy level, decreased fatigue, improved sexual performance, etc. after using ashwagandha for few weeks.
How Should I Feel After Taking Ashwagandha?
You may feel nothing just after taking ashwagandha for up to a few weeks too. After 4 to 8 weeks of regular use of Ashwagandha at 300 to 600mg per day, you may feel decreased stress, improved sleep, increased muscle strength, and energy level.
What Are the Immediate Effects of Ashwagandha?
You may feel nothing just after taking Ashwagandha. Few people may feel sleepy or dizzy after taking ashwagandha. If you take in higher doses like 1000mg you may feel nausea, and abdomen upset too.
Ashwagandha decreases stress and improves sleep quality, muscle strength, hair growth, thyroid function, and sexual performance. It is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and rejuvenator of muscle and nerves. In short, it is a ‘jack of all trades’ and helps in the overall well-being of the body. It boosts up energy of the body and increases immunity power. It promotes optimal health and wellness of our body.
A common question asked frequently is how long does ashwagandha take to work? It varies among individuals and what effect you are expecting. In general, it takes 4 to 8 weeks to show most of the effects and may take even longer than 90 days for hair growth, enhancing well-being, and sexual function.
- Sleep-promoting activity of amylase-treated Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera L. Dunal) root extract via GABA receptors, (1)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10281725/
- Effect of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract on sleep: A systematic review and meta-analysis, (2)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34559859/
- The Perceived Impact of Ashwagandha on Stress, Sleep Quality, Energy, and Mental Clarity for College Students: Qualitative Analysis of a Double-Blind Randomized Control Trial, (3)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35984870/
- Effect of standardized root extract of ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) on well-being and sexual performance in adult males: A randomized controlled trial, (4)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35873404/
- Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract for Improvement of Sexual Health in Healthy Women: A Prospective, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study, (5)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36447681/
- Clinical Evaluation of the Spermatogenic Activity of the Root Extract of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in Oligospermic Males: A Pilot Study, (6)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24371462/
- Combinations of Ashwagandha leaf extracts protect brain-derived cells against oxidative stress and induce differentiation, (7)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25789768/
- Hormonal Effects on Hair Follicles, (8)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7432488
- A Prospective Six-month Single-blind Study Evaluating Changes in Hair Growth and Quality Using a Nutraceutical Supplement in Men and Women of Diverse Ethnicities, (9)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35309272/
- Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Subclinical Hypothyroid Patients: A Double-Blind, Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial, (10)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28829155/
- Effects of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) on Physical Performance: Systematic Review and Bayesian Meta-Analysis, (11)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8006238/
- Examining the effect of Withania somnifera supplementation on muscle strength and recovery: a randomized controlled trial, (12)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26609282/
- Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha Root Extract on Cognitive Functions in Healthy, Stressed Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study, (13)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34858513/
- A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults, (14)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23439798/