Ashwagandha Withdrawal: Is It Real?

In this article, we will take a closer look at Ashwagandha withdrawal symptoms. Ashwagandha is a natural supplement that has recently gained a lot of popularity, especially on social media. Even though Ashwagandha is associated with a variety of health benefits, some of which have solid scientific backing, there have been reports of people suffering Ashwagandha withdrawal symptoms. While these are usually quite rare, cases of increased anxiety after stopping Ashwagandha have been reported. Let us understand what may be causing these withdrawal symptoms, and whether they are a cause for concern.
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Can Ashwagandha Cause Withdrawal Symptoms?

Ashwagandha is not typically associated with withdrawal symptoms. Current scientific literature does not provide strong evidence to suggest that discontinuing Ashwagandha leads to withdrawal symptoms. However, individual reactions can vary, and some might experience a temporary increase in anxiety symptoms, especially if Ashwagandha was used to treat anxiety. This phenomenon is know as rebound anxiety.

Always consult a healthcare provider before starting or stopping any supplement regimen.

Uses and Side Effects of Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), is a plant that grows naturally in India and Southeast Asia. It's often used in Ayurvedic medicine, a traditional medicine system that originated in India. Extracts of ashwagandha can have as many as 35 different chemical components, but so far, a specific active ingredient hasn't been determined [1].

Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, which means that it's a substance that helps the body cope with stress. People have used Ashwagandha for thousands of years to boost different aspects of their health. Ashwagandha has been used to relieve stress , boost energy levels, and increase focus [2]. Some people also take Ashwagandha to improve sexual desire, pleasure, or performance, and to treat a variety of conditions including insomnia, anxiety, rheumatism, constipation, skin conditions like boils and ulcers, goiter, parasitic worms, and snake bites [1]. While Ashwagandha may not actually help with all of these, there is some real science behind the healing properties of Ashwagandha.

For a better analysis of the science behind Ashwagandha's healing properties, read our blog about Ashwagandha and alcohol.

Ashwagandha contains many bioactive components, such as steroidal alkaloids and lactones [3].

One of the key bioactive components found in Ashwagandha is Withaferin-A (Wi-A), contained in the leaves of the plant. Another significant component is Withanone (Wi-N), also found in the leaves [3]. These components, known as withanolides, may have powerful effects on our health. For example, some studies suggest that Withaferin A may have anticancer properties, but more research is needed to confirm this.

Other compounds of interest in Ashwagandha are Withanoside II, Withanoside IV, Withanoside V (commonly referred to as Withanosides), and Sitoindoside IX, which may also have potential therapeutic effects [4]. Ashwagandha is also rich in phenolic acids, flavodoids, and other substances such as steroidal lactone triterpenoids [5].

Even though Ashwagandha is generally safe to take (when taken within recommended dosages), it can cause side effects. Some side effects include gastrointestinal upset (upset stomach), rare allergic reactions, and interactions with certain medications [6].

Is Ashwagandha Addictive?

Ashwagandha is not typically associated with addiction. In contrast, there are studies suggesting that the opposite may be true, and that in fact, Ashwagandha may have anti-addictive properties. For example, a study conducted on mice showed that Ashwagandha reduced alcohol withdrawal anxiety and decreased ethanol intake after 21 days of chronic administration [7]. This suggests that Ashwagandha may help with alcohol dependence, but more human studies are needed.

Moreover, Ashwagandha has been found to have a variety of therapeutic effects, including anti-anxiety, anti-depressant, and nootropic actions, primarily through modulation of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and serotonergic systems [7]. These properties may contribute to its potential use in managing addictive disorders.

Ashwagandha Withdrawal Symptoms

Based on the available literature, it seems that Ashwagandha withdrawal symptoms are not very common. In fact, Ashwagandha is considered an adaptogen, meaning it helps the body adapt to stress and does not typically influence body functions more than necessary nor cause withdrawal symptoms [8].

That being said, Ashwagandha may sometimes cause withdrawal symptoms. Some people experience anxiety symptoms when they stop taking Ashwagandha, especially if Ashwagandha was being used to manage their anxiety or stress. This is called rebound anxiety, and it can occur because an abrupt stop in Ashwagandha intake may affect neurotransmitter balance in the brain [8].

However, it's important to note that everyone's body chemistry is different, and reactions to stopping any supplement can vary.

In conclusion, even though Ashwagandha is generally considered safe, you should always consult your healthcare provider before starting or stopping Ashwagandha.

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