Ashwagandha and Alcohol: Can You Drink While Taking Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha has become a herbal supplement hit in recent years, with claims of broad spectrum benefits, including cardio and neuroprotective benefits, athletic performance, sleep and anti-inflammation. As Ashwagandha is a herbal supplement, it has numerous phytochemicals so its therapeutic mechanism is complex and not fully understood. A frequent question is whether you can drink alcohol while taking Ashwagandha. In this article, we will cover some of the evidence-backed mechanisms through which Ashwagandha exerts its beneficial properties and critically examine whether you can drink alcohol while taking Ashwagandha.
Klara Hatinova

Klara Hatinova

Klara is postgraduate researcher in experimental psychology at the
University of Oxford.

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An overview of Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha, also known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry, comes from the plant specifies Withania somnifera, a herb that grows naturally in India and Southeast Asia. It has been frequently used in Ayurvedic medicine and has recently gained popularity in mainstream media due to its spectrum of health claims [1, 2].

The plant is part of the nightshade family and has been used for thousands of years for its therapeutic properties. In Ayurvedic medicine, it is typically the root of Ashwagandha, but the leaves and flowers can also be utilised. Extracts of Ashwagandha can have as many as 35 different chemical components, representing a broad pharmacological effect [1, 2].

Benefits of Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha has been trialled and tested for a spectrum of conditions, and there are significant benefits of ashwagandha such as:[2]

  • Reduced stress and anxiety [3]
  • Improved energy and reduced fatigue
  • Reduced pain and inflammation [4]
  • Sexual function and fertility [5]
  • Improving sleep, especially in adults with insomnia [6]
  • Improving athletic performance [7]
  • Improved mental health (mainly reduced anxiety, depression) [2, 8]
  • Reduced blood sugar levels [9] (although the benefits are not fully clear)
  • Improved cognition: attention, memory and reaction time [6]

In modern medicine, ashwagandha has shown potential benefits in certain neuropsychiatric conditions, improving sleep quality, and enhancing adaptogenesis in healthy adults. It also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action, which may benefit neurodegenerative states [3].

All these benefits sound excellent and its long-term use in traditional medicine indicates that Ashwagandha is safe to consume in the long term. However, the dose at which Ashwagandha can produce long-term effects, potential toxicity and other drug interactions are still not well studied [2]. It is not recommended to take Ashwagandha for longer than 3 months [10].

Common Side Effects of Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is considered very safe for up to 3 months, with few side effects reported [10]. In rare cases, the following mild side effects can be experienced: gastrointestinal upset, dizziness, nausea or vomiting. You may also experience coughing, dry mouth or rashes [11].

It is advised not to take Ashwagandha when pregnant, breastfeeding, or suffering from liver or kidney problems. Additional caution should be taken by people on psychoactive medication such as benzodiazepines, anti-psychotic medication or opioids, as their effects can be potentiated or diminished by Ashwagandha. People taking immunosuppresants, diabetic medication or blood pressure medication should always consult a medical professional when starting a new herbal supplement [11].

Can I Drink Alcohol While Taking Ashwagandha?

The scientific evidence is not entirely clear on whether and how alcohol and Ashwagandha interact. This is due to the number of chemicals Ashwagandha includes, making it difficult to track and isolate them for a controlled study.

Ashwagandha can interact with similar sedative medication, such as benzodiazepines, which indicates that Ashwagandha can also interact with the effects of alcohol.

Indeed, Ashwagandha increases the levels of GABA [12] - the inhibitory neurotransmitter that can cause sedation within the brain. Alcohol mimics GABA-signalling and, therefore, can inhibit some of the benefits of Ashwagandha. Furthermore, the combination of alcohol and Ashwagandha can have an additive effect on sedation and sleepiness, reducing your ability to carry out tasks and increasing risk of injury or accidents.


On the other hand, Ashwagandha has demonstrated a beneficial effect on reducing withdrawal symptoms in alcohol dependence [12, 13]. Nonetheless, alcohol withdrawal should be a medically monitored process and self-medicating with Ashwagandha is not encouraged.

What will happen if I drink alcohol while taking ashwagandha?

Drinking alcohol while taking ashwagandha may not have any unexpected or detrimental effects. The effects you may experience will depend on individual factors such as pre-existing medical conditions, amount of alcohol and ashwagandha consumed, as well as the time interval between their consumption. Common effects may include increased sleepiness, sedation, nausea or gastric upset. You can also reduce the plausible benefits of Ashwagandha [2].

There is sparse empirical evidence of alcohol and ashwagandha interactions in humans. Therefore, the specific effects on the human body are difficult to state. A single case study examined a woman who experienced liver impairment after taking high doses of ashwagandha and alcohol. Critically, this was in combination with a spectrum of additional supplements and analgesic medication and pre-existing liver complications [14]. Thus in healthy, moderately active people, consuming alcohol while taking Ashwagandha is likely not to be damaging to the liver [15].

Interactions of Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is an herbal supplement with a wide-ranging impact on the human body across a spectrum of biological systems. Due to this, it interacts with several medications, including:

  • Sedatives
  • Anticonvulsants (seizure medication), thyroid hormone medications, diabetes medications, and high blood pressure medications

Importantly, Ashwagandha has no demonstrated impact on the Cytochrome P450 system, which means that it will not affect the breakdown and activation of medicaments reliant on this system [16]. Patients with testicular cancer, autoimmune diseases or epilepsy should always contact a healthcare professional before taking Ashwagandha, as it may exacerbate their condition [17].

To summarize, healthy, active individual should not experience any unusual side effects from drinking alcohol and consuming Ashwagandha. As always, monitoring your symptoms and reporting any unusual changes to a medical professional is important when combining pharmacological substances. If you have a pre-existing condition, make sure to consult your medical professional before taking Ashwagandha and avoid drinking alcohol.

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Klara Hatinova

Klara Hatinova

Klara is a postgraduate researcher in experimental psychology at the University of Oxford. She has worked across a spectrum of hot topics in neuroscience, including her current project measuring reinforcement learning strategies in Parkinson’s disease. Previously, she studied the efficacy of psilocybin as a therapy for critical mental health conditions and examined molecular circadian rhythms of migraine disorders. She completed her undergraduate degree in Neuroscience at the University of Glasgow and participated in a year abroad at the University of California, where she worked on a clinical trial for spinal cord injury.