Ashwagandha and Weed: Can You Take Them Together?

In this article, we will take a close look at Ashwagandha and Marijuana, two potent substances used in traditional and modern medicine, as well as for recreational purposes. We will understand their origins, benefits, side effects, and potential interactions. The article also explores how these substances work, their role in managing stress, pain relief, and other health benefits.
Nithishwer Mouroug Anand

Nithishwer Mouroug Anand

Nithish is a computational biochemist at the University of Oxford working on alchemical methods for protein-drug interactions.

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Ashwagandha and Weed: An Overview

Origin and History

Ashwagandha, also known as Indian Ginseng or Winter Cherry, is a medicinal plant that has been used in Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani systems of medicine for centuries. It is native to India and Southeast Asia and thrives in dry, hot climates, including northern Africa and the Mediterranean [1].

On the other hand, weed, or cannabis, is a plant that has been used for recreational (and health) purposes for thousands of years. It originated in central asia or western china. The plant is known for its many chemicals, one of which is cannabidiol (CBD). [1]

What is Ashwagandha and How Does it Work?

Ashwagandha a potent Adaptogen: As discussed before, is a celebrated herb often used in Ayurvedic medicine, a traditional medicine system that originated in India [2]. It's considered an adaptogen, meaning it's a substance that helps the body cope with stress [2]. Ashwagandha works by regulating the body’s stress response, helping to balance stress hormone levels and reduce anxiety [3].

Certain neurotransmitters like serotonin and GABA may also get modulated by Ashwagandha [3]. Extracts of ashwagandha can have as many as 35 different chemical components [4].

Ashwagandha has shown potential benefits in various health areas, including reducing stress, improving sleep quality, enhancing cognitive function, and potentially benefiting certain neuropsychiatric conditions. However, many of these benefits are based on smaller studies and require further confirmation through larger clinical trials.

Benefits of Ashwagandha

Its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immune-modulating effects might contribute to overall well-being [4].

Improves Mental and physical Performance: Ashwagandha helps improve your cognitive functions- attention,reaction time etc.[5]. It also helps with your mental health by having positive effects on Stress and the Stress-Related Neuropsychiatric Disorders like Anxiety, Depression, and Insomnia.[6]

An increased use of ashwagandha in sports fields has been observed in recent times and studies have shown that it optimises and improves various variables of physical performance such as strength, oxygen usage, cardiorespiratory fitness and recovery. [7]

Side effects of Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is generally safe when taken for a short period of time (3 months), we don't have sufficient information to prove its long term safety.

There are a number of rare cases where Ashwagandha has been linked to liver injury. In some individuals it causes vomiting, upset stomach and diarrhoea.

It is not advisable for pregnant and breastfeeding women to take Ashwagandha, the same applies to people who have autoimmune or thyroid disorders. [8]

What is Weed and How Does it Work?

Weed, also known as cannabis or marijuana, is a plant that contains many chemicals, one of which is cannabidiol (CBD) [2]. CBD has been used for health purposes for thousands of years [2].

Interaction with endocannabinoid system: The way weed works is primarily through its interaction with the body's endocannabinoid system, a complex cell-signalling system that plays a role in regulating a range of functions and processes including sleep, mood, appetite, memory, and reproduction. The active chemicals in weed, known as cannabinoids, interact with receptors in the brain and body to alter and regulate these functions.

Benefits and Side Effects of Marijuana

Benefits of Weed

Marijuana can be used for relieving pain and cancer related symptoms: studies have shown that CBD can relieve pain in patients with malignant diseases [7]. CBD can also be used to reduce symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and pain [9].

Other benefits: CBD can also be used to help with Sleeplessness, symptoms of depression, and reduce seizures.[2]

Side effects of Weed

Weed also contains another chemical known as THC, high amounts of this chemical can lead to hallucinations, altered senses, disorientation, psychosis, delusion or impaired memory [10].

This can also cause severe addiction, therefore it is crucial that medical use of weed is prescribed by a trusted physician and in a regulated dosage.

Another chemical that can cause side effects is CBD. It can cause vomiting, dry mouth, drowsiness and nausea [7]. The chemical CBD does not cause side effects as severe as THC, even then its use should be regulated properly.

Can you use Ashwagandha and Weed together?

There may not be sufficient evidence to answer exactly how ashwagandha interacts with weed (cannabis).

However, it's important to note that both ashwagandha and cannabis (CBD) have potential benefits and side effects. As discussed before Ashwagandha, a herb used in Ayurvedic medicine, is known to help the body cope with stress, boost energy levels, and increase focus [2]. On the other hand, CBD, a chemical found in cannabis plants, may provide pain relief, anxiety relief, and improved sleep [2].

Both of these drugs have a chance of causing adverse side effects by interaction with other medications. Ashwagandha may interact with immunosuppressants, sedatives, anticonvulsants, thyroid hormone medications, diabetes medications, and high blood pressure medications [8]. CBD may interact with medications that carry a “grapefruit warning” on the label, which can include more than 85 drugs, from antibiotics and blood pressure medications to antihistamines [8].

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Nithishwer Mouroug Anand

Nithishwer Mouroug Anand

Nithish is a Doctoral Researcher in Computational Biochemistry at the University of Oxford. A physicist by training, he applies principles of thermodynamics and computational methods to investigate the interactions between drugs, proteins, and cell membranes. His expertise ranges from single-cell RNA sequencing and cancer genomics to utilizing free energy methods to understand protein biophysics.