Ashwagandha (winter cherry) is one of the most important herbs in Ayurveda, a traditional form of alternative medicine based on Indian principles of natural healing. This evergreen shrub, that grows in India, is commonly used for stress, anxiety and brain fog. It can help us improve our memory and concentration. This herb has also shown to be effective in treating depression and addiction, and is increasingly used by people with ADHD. What can Ashwagandha do for children and adults with ADHD? Is it safe to use, and what are possible side effects? We did some research.
The health benefits of Ashwagandha
You may already be familiar with Indian ginseng. Ashwagandha is similar to this root. Some people say Ashwagandha is a miracle cure, and research has been done into the possible benefits of this herb. Ashwagandha may help to reduce stress, depression and anxiety, but it also boosts our immune system. This wonderful root can also support our thyroid.
Ashwagandha can help to:
- reduce stress and anxiety;
- improve memory and concentration;
- reduce brain fog;
- make us feel relaxed;
- improve our mood;
- reduce symptoms associated with arthritis, rheumatism and osteoarthritis;
- improve sleep;
- improve energy levels;
- reduce inflammation.
Research on the benefits of Ashwagandha
Several studies have been conducted on the effect of Ashwagandha, with promising results. For example, a study conducted by Ashwins Health Care and Research Center suggests that highly concentrated Ashwagandha root extract (full spectrum) lowers stress levels. Another extensive study on the benefits of Ashwagandha, conducted by the International Institute of Herbal Medicine (IIHM), suggests that the root may have many positive effects, such as lowering stress, improving our memory (in both children and adults) and reducing symptoms associated with arthritis, rheumatism and osteoarthritis. It has also been found to be useful in Parkinson's-, Huntington's- and Alzheimer's disease. Ashwagandha improves energy levels and is anti-inflammatory.
More research is needed
Some small -scale studies suggest that Ashwagandha could even be useful for cancer treatment, but more research is needed. Ashwagandha also appears to be as effective as an anxiety reliever as Lorazepam and as effective an antidepressant as Imipramine. The possible benefits are promising, but large-scale studies are needed to prove its clinical efficacy in stress-related disorders, neuronal disorders and cancers.
Ashwagandha for ADHD
Because Ashwagandha helps with brain fog, sleep, relaxation, concentration- and memory problems, this remedy is commonly used for treating ADHD naturally. Ashwagandha also aids in the recovery and support of the central nervous system. In addition, insomnia decreases when using Ashwagandha. The traditional application of Ashwagandha is to improve the learning ability and memory of children. Therefore, Ashwagandha is increasingly used as part of a natural treatment for ADHD. But other supplements can also be effective for people with ADD and ADHD.
I have had good experiences with using ashwagandha to manage ADD-symptoms. My neuro4 profile shows that I am deficient in GABA, and ashwagandha supports the increase of GABA. With taking one tablet of Ashwagandha daily, I feel mentally and physically calmer, and my concentration improves.Jose – founder of Wandering Minds
Disadvantages of using Ashwagandha for ADHD
Although many see Ashwagandha as a magical miracle treatment, there also appear to be some drawbacks to consuming this root. For example, as with many other natural remedies, little research has been done on the long-term effects of Ashwagandha.
It is essential that we stick to the recommended daily dose. If we consume too much Ashwagandha, we may get stomach and intestinal complaints such as diarrhea and abdominal pain. There are no serious side effects or safety concerns documented of Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha seems safe to use, except for pregnant women, people with thyroid problems or autoimmune complaints.
Side Effects of Ashwagandha
If we use Ashwagandha for a shorter period (a few months), and we stick to the recommended dose, the chance of developing side effects is small. With prolonged use and high doses, we may experience mild side effects such as headaches, stomach pain, and drowsiness.
Pregnant, breastfeeding, thyroid problems or autoimmune disease? Be safe
Are you pregnant, do you breastfeed, do you have thyroid problems or an autoimmune disease? Then be careful with the use of Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha can increase the production of thyroid hormones. Are you intolerant of products from the nightshade family of plants (such as tomatoes and potatoes)? Then you also have to be careful, because Ashwagandha belongs to this family and consumption can worsen autoimmune symptoms.
Dr. Merry FRCPI PhD reviewed 37 studies on Ashwagandha. None of these studies indicated safety concerns with the use of Ashwagandha for ADHD, except for one case. A healthy 32-year-old woman developed hypothyroidism (an overactive thyroid) after taking Ashwagandha. Research at an Ayurvedic clinic in India revealed an extremely low rate of side effects (only 1.14% experienced mild side effects). As mentioned earlier, it is recommended to avoid taking ashwagandha while pregnant because of the risk of miscarriage. In general, it is recommended to drink extra water when using ashwagandha for ADHD.
Is Ashwagandha addictive for people with an ADHD diagnosis?
Some adults with ADHD are at a higher risk of developing addictions. Because of this, some people wonder if Ashwagandha is safe to use for people with ADHD, without developing addiction. As far as we know, no research has been conducted into the addictive effect of Ashwagandha. Because of the (psychologically) pleasant effects of the drug, it could happen that you become addicted to this feeling. If you stick to the recommended dosage, this is not known to be harmful.
Try Ashwagandha to manage ADHD symptoms?
You are now aware of the most important information such as the benefits, harms and possible side effects of Ashwagandha for ADHD. Do you wish to try Ashwagandha? It is always best to use supplements in consultation with a specialist, such as an orthomolecular therapist or your (family) doctor. Do you fall into one of the risk groups? Always check with your doctor before trying Ashwagandha.
Disclaimer: This article is for inspirational purposes only, and in no way a substitute for medical advice. If you have any questions, always contact a physician or other qualified healthcare professional. A supplement serves as a supplement and is not a substitute for a healthy lifestyle.