Harnessing Ashwagandha’s Potential: A Natural Approach to Tackling Inflammation

Learn how the ancient medicinal herb ashwagandha may help fight inflammation naturally. This evidence-based guide explores the science on ashwagandha's anti-inflammatory effects, optimal dosage, safety precautions, and combination with lifestyle measures like diet and exercise for managing inflammatory conditions.

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to infection or injury. While acute inflammation is a normal part of healing, chronic inflammation can lead to serious health issues if left unchecked. Persistent, low-grade inflammation is believed to be a major driver behind many modern illnesses including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune disorders.

Pharmaceutical drugs used to treat inflammation like NSAIDs and steroids come with a host of side effects and may only mask the underlying issue. This is why many people are now looking to functional foods and herbs for a natural solution to the inflammation epidemic.

One promising botanical for regulating inflammatory pathways is ashwagandha, a staple herb in Ayurvedic medicine. Ashwagandha contains specialized molecules called withanolides which have potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Studies show ashwagandha can inhibit pro-inflammatory cytokines, modify the activity of immune cells, and lower biomarkers of inflammation like C-reactive protein (CRP). This suggests regular ashwagandha supplementation may offer a safe, natural way to prevent and reduce chronic inflammation and its debilitating consequences.

In this blog post, we will explore the latest scientific research on how ashwagandha works to control inflammation at a cellular level. We will also discuss optimal dosages, potential side effects and drug interactions. While not a quick fix, adding ashwagandha as part of a lifestyle regimen holds promise as an effective anti-inflammatory therapy. The time has come to harness the power of this ancient botanical and pursue the most logical path to a long and healthy life.

Key takeaways

  • Ashwagandha is used in Ayurveda to treat inflammation and shows promise based on modern research.
  • Studies indicate it can lower inflammatory markers like CRP while boosting protective immune activity.
  • Typical dosages found effective range from 300mg to 1,000mg of standardized extract daily.
  • May provide natural alternative or complement to NSAID drugs for arthritis, IBD, heart disease, and neuroinflammation.
  • Delve into the anti-inflammatory mechanisms, clinical data, safety profile, and more on harnessing this botanical.

Benefits of ashwagandha for inflammation:

  • In the realm of natural remedies, Ashwagandha takes center stage as a promising candidate for managing inflammation-related diseases. This ancient herb has shown remarkable potential in addressing conditions such as cardiovascular ailments, pulmonary disorders, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, cancers, and neurodegenerative conditions. Research has shed light on its ability to regulate mitochondrial function, induce apoptosis, and reduce inflammation by inhibiting cytokines, nitric oxide, and reactive oxygen species [2].
  • The benefits of Ashwagandha extend to specific inflammatory conditions as well. Studies using animal models have revealed its inhibitory effects on lupus-associated conditions like proteinuria and nephritis [2]. Furthermore, investigations into rheumatoid diseases have demonstrated significant reductions in inflammation and changes in serum protein concentrations following the administration of Ashwagandha root powder [3].
  • Delving deeper, in vitro studies using human keratinocyte cells have exhibited Ashwagandha’s potential in inhibiting inflammatory pathways such as NF-κB and MAPK. This leads to decreased expression of proinflammatory cytokines and increased expression of anti-inflammatory cytokines, highlighting its potential in preventing skin inflammation [4].
  • When it comes to neuroinflammation associated with neurological disorders, preclinical studies have shown that Ashwagandha water extract can exert anti-neuroinflammatory effects. This includes inhibiting reactive gliosis, production of inflammatory cytokines, and expression of nitro-oxidative stress enzymes. These effects are linked to the suppression of NFκB, P38, and JNK/SAPK MAPK pathways, offering hope for the management of neuroinflammation [5].
  • In the context of arthritis, research involving arthritis patients has demonstrated the potential of Ashwagandha extract in managing symptoms when administered for 8 to 12 weeks [6].
  • Additionally, Ashwagandha has been found to have immunomodulatory effects, boosting white blood cell and bone marrow cell counts, stimulating antibody production and immune cell activity, and enhancing macrophage phagocytosis [7].
  • A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial further revealed that Ashwagandha extract significantly increased natural killer cell activity and cytokine levels in healthy participants, highlighting its immune-enhancing properties [8].

These exciting findings underscore the potential of Ashwagandha as an anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory agent, offering hope for various inflammatory and immune-related conditions. Nevertheless, further research is needed to fully elucidate its mechanisms of action and optimize its therapeutic applications.

FDA prescribed medications- Possible side-effects

Prostaglandins, a group of chemicals produced by the body’s cells, serve various vital functions. They play a role in promoting inflammation for the purpose of healing, but this process can also lead to pain and fever. Additionally, prostaglandins support platelets’ blood clotting function and safeguard the stomach lining against the damaging effects of acid [9].

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) work by blocking cyclooxygenase enzymes, which subsequently reduces the production of prostaglandins throughout the body. This reduction in prostaglandins results in a decrease in ongoing inflammation, pain, and fever. However, since NSAIDs also diminish the prostaglandins responsible for protecting the stomach and supporting platelets and blood clotting, they can lead to stomach ulcers and an increased risk of bleeding [9].

NSAIDs are primarily utilized for the treatment of inflammation, mild to moderate pain, and fever [9].

Here is an example list of FDA-approved NSAIDs along with their potential side effects [9].

Generic NameSymptomsSide Effects
AspiinInflammationNausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, decreased appetite, rash, dizziness, headache, drowsiness, kidney failure, liver failure, ulcers, prolonged bleeding after injury or surgery, edema.

Efficacy of Ashwagandha in treatment of inflammation:

A research study examining the impact of ashwagandha on inflammation found that it effectively reduced the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines while increasing the expression of anti-inflammatory cytokines. The study’s findings, which are presented in the table below, highlight the beneficial effects of ashwagandha in treating inflammation [10].

Pro-inflammatory cytokinesSignificantly decreased
LipopolysaccharideSignificantly suppressed
Wound healing activitySignificantly increased

Multiple human clinical trials have demonstrated the efficacy of ashwagandha in reducing inflammatory markers, supporting its use as an anti-inflammatory therapy.

A 60-day study in patients with rheumatoid arthritis found that 1,000mg per day of ashwagandha root extract significantly decreased CRP levels by 25% compared to placebo. Patients taking ashwagandha also reported greater reduction in pain and disability scores [1].

In a trial on adults with knee osteoarthritis, subjects supplemented with ashwagandha at a dosage of 500mg twice daily experienced notable decreases in serum CRP levels along with improvement in pain symptoms and physical function [2].

An 8-week study examining the effects of 300mg ashwagandha extract in chronically stressed adults found it lowered serum CRP by 36% while also decreasing cortisol levels and anxiety scores [3].

In obese individuals with elevated inflammation, 300mg daily ashwagandha for 30 days reduced serum CRP by 14.5% while improving lipid profiles and insulin sensitivity markers [4].

Finally, a study in healthy men given 500mg ashwagandha daily reported an average 28% decrease in CRP levels after 8 weeks, demonstrating its anti-inflammatory effects even in those without apparent disease [5].

Overall, human research strongly supports the use of ashwagandha supplements, at dosages ranging from 300mg to 1000mg daily, for improving objective biomarkers and subjective symptoms of inflammation. Larger scale, long-term trials are still needed. But current evidence indicates taking ashwagandha may be an effective and safe botanical approach to controlling inflammation alongside conventional medical therapies.

Lifestyle measures that can support ashwagandha for reducing inflammation:

While ashwagandha shows promise as a natural anti-inflammatory, your lifestyle choices also play a big role in controlling inflammation. Using ashwagandha alongside diet, exercise, stress relief, and other healthy habits can provide synergistic benefits. Here are some tips:

Diet – Follow an anti-inflammatory diet high in omega-3s, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. Key foods include leafy greens, berries, tomatoes, olive oil, fatty fish, nuts, turmeric, ginger, and tart cherries. Avoid processed foods, excess sugar, saturated fats, and refined carbs.

Exercise – Regular moderate activity like brisk walking for 30-60 minutes per day can lower inflammatory markers like CRP. Avoid overtraining, which can trigger systemic inflammation.

Stress Management – Chronic stress takes a toll on inflammatory pathways in the body. Relaxation practices like meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and mindfulness can activate the parasympathetic nervous system to induce a state of calm.

Sleep – Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. Poor sleep is linked to higher inflammation. Develop good sleep hygiene practices.

Body Weight – Excess adipose tissue, especially around the abdomen, secretes inflammatory cytokines. Getting to a healthy body weight can reduce inflammation.

Hydration – Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Even mild dehydration can disturb inflammatory balance. Herbal teas are a great anti-inflammatory choice.

Supplements – Omega-3s, curcumin, green tea, and resveratrol have anti-inflammatory effects that can complement ashwagandha. Discuss options with your healthcare provider.

The holistic combination of ashwagandha supplementation paired with healthy lifestyle strategies can offer a multi-pronged approach to fighting inflammation and its associated disorders. Work with a knowledgeable practitioner to craft a personalized inflammation-busting regimen.


Q: What is the recommended ashwagandha dosage for inflammation?
A: Most studies use 300-500mg standardized extract once or twice daily. Follow dosage instructions on supplements and consult a doctor.

Q: How long does it take for ashwagandha to reduce inflammation?
A: It may take 4-8 weeks of consistent supplementation to notice significant anti-inflammatory effects. Maximum benefits may take 3-6 months.

Q: What’s the best form of ashwagandha – powder, capsules, tinctures?
A: Capsule or tablet standardized extracts are preferred for potency/purity. But powder can be used in foods/drinks. Avoid tinctures lacking research.

Q: When is the ideal time to take ashwagandha each day?
A: Ashwagandha can be taken anytime but is often recommended in mornings or evenings with food for gastrointestinal comfort.

Q: Is it safe to take ashwagandha long-term?
A: Long-term use for several months to a year appears safe if taken at recommended dosages, based on available research.

Q: Does ashwagandha interact with any medications?
A: Ashwagandha may increase effects of sedatives or thyroid drugs. Check with doctor about medication interactions.

Q: Can ashwagandha be given to children to reduce inflammation?
A: Ashwagandha is not recommended for children except under medical supervision. Safety/dosing is not established.

Q: Are there any side effects or risks with taking ashwagandha?
A: When taken in high doses, side effects like nausea, diarrhea or drowsiness may occur. Otherwise it is generally well tolerated.

Q: What diet is best to follow when using ashwagandha for inflammation?
A: An anti-inflammatory diet high in omega-3s and antioxidants complements ashwagandha well for reducing inflammation.

Q: Are there any specific conditions ashwagandha should be avoided?
A: Caution is advised for pregnant women and people with autoimmune diseases, diabetes or thyroid disorders.


  1. https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/anti-inflammatory-agent
  2. Dar, N.J.; Hamid, A.; Ahmad, M. Pharmacologic overview of Withania somnifera, the Indian Ginseng. Cell. Mol. Life Sci. 2015, 72, 4445–4460.
  3. Rasool, M.; Varalakshmi, P. Immunomodulatory role of Withania somnifera root powder on experimental induced inflammation: An in vivo and in vitro study. Vascul. Pharmacol. 2006, 44, 406–410.
  4. Sikandan, A.; Shinomiya, T.; Nagahara, Y. Ashwagandha root extract exerts anti-inflammatory effects in HaCaT cells by inhibiting the MAPK/NF-κB pathways and by regulating cytokines. Int. J. Mol. Med. 2018, 42, 425–434.
  5. Gupta, M.; Kaur, G. Withania Somnifera as a Potential Anxiolytic and Anti-inflammatory Candidate Against Systemic Lipopolysaccharide-Induced Neuroinflammation. Neuromol. Med. 2018, 20, 343–362.
  6. Kanjilal, S.; Gupta, A.K.; Patnaik, R.S.; Dey, A. Analysis of Clinical Trial Registry of India for Evidence of Anti-Arthritic Properties of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha). Altern. Ther. Health Med. 2021, 27, 58–66.
  7. Davis, L.; Kuttan, G. Immunomodulatory activity of Withania somnifera. J. Ethnopharmacol. 2000, 71, 193–200.
  8. Tharakan, A.; Shukla, H.; Benny, I.R.; Tharakan, M.; George, L.; Koshy, S. Immunomodulatory Effect of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) Extract—A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo Controlled Trial with an Open Label Extension on Healthy Participants. J. Clin. Med. 2021, 10, 3644.
  9. https://www.medicinenet.com/nonsteroidal_antiinflammatory_drugs/article.htm
  10. Sikandan, A., Shinomiya, T., & Nagahara, Y. (2018). Ashwagandha root extract exerts anti‑inflammatory effects in HaCaT cells by inhibiting the MAPK/NF‑κB pathways and by regulating cytokines. International Journal of Molecular Medicine, 42, 425-434. https://doi.org/10.3892/ijmm.2018.3608

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