Ashwagandha is a household name now, and a lot of us are talking about it. But the question of when to take Ashwagandha remains unanswered. Many of us still don’t know the ideal time to take it.
This blog looks at the different times we can take Ashwagandha and whether it makes a big difference or not.
What is Ashwagandha?
Withania Somnifera, commonly known as Ashwagandha, Indian ginseng, winter cherry, or poison gooseberry, is an annual evergreen shrub in the nightshade family that grows in India, the Middle East, and parts of Africa. Also found in Sri Lanka and Pakistan, ashwagandha has 4,000 years of traditional use to its name and is recognized as a medicinal tonic (Rasayana) in Ayurvedic medicine.
The term ashwagandha comes from the ancient Indo-European language Sanskrit. Broken down, “ashva” means horse, and “gandha” means smell, alluding to the roots’ strong odor.
Ayurvedic medicine is an ancient traditional medicine system in India. It is a healing tradition that uses exercise, mindfulness practices, nutrition, and herbs to balance the body, spirit, mind, and environment. Due to its wide range of health benefits, ashwagandha is widely mentioned in various traditional textbooks of Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, and Chinese medicine.
Ashwagandha has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine to increase energy, improve overall health and reduce inflammation, anxiety, and pain. It is also known as Ashvakandika, Palashaparni, Asgandh, and Gandhapatri. The synonyms are related to a horse since the herb is a potent aphrodisiac and is said to provide the stamina of a horse.
Let’s dive deeper into the benefits of ashwagandha, what it does for the body, and the best time to take it, along with some recipes.
What does Ashwagandha taste like?
Ashwagandha characterizes three different tastes, namely Bitter (Tikta), Pungent (Katu), and Sweet (Madhura). It has hot potency and pungent metabolic properties; it aggravates digestion and pacifies air, earth, and water doshas.
This herb is a potent adaptogen, i.e., it is a non-toxic herb that helps normalize all bodily functions by working on the neuroendocrine system & HPA axis. Ashwagandha’s botanical name is Withania somnifera. The word “somnifera” means “sleep-inductive,” which means that this drug is a potent sedative and helps treat conditions like sleep disorders and insomnia. 
Every part of this miraculous plant is used to treat several health conditions and promote the longevity & vitality of an individual. The science of Ayurveda has been using this powerful remedy for treating umpteen health problems, including infertility, mental disorders, reduced immunity, arthritis, depression, insomnia, etc.
What does Ashwagandha do for the body?
During stressful moments, the cortisol levels in the body become elevated, and this causes the heart to pump harder and faster. When you take rapid breaths, your body generates more glucose for a quick burst of energy, your mind becomes hyper-focused on any threats, and your body goes into fight or flight mode.
Cortisol levels normalize when the stressful event is over, and the associated symptoms resolve. Unfortunately, when a threat is chronic, whether it’s stress from work or the pandemic, the stressful response also becomes chronic. Over time, long-term stress can contribute to persistent inflammation and increase the risk of developing chronic conditions such as heart diseases, stroke, cancer, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, and fibromyalgia .
Research has shown that ashwagandha can help normalize these cortisol levels, thus reducing the stress response. In addition, ashwagandha has also been associated with reduced inflammation and cancer risks, along with improved memory, immune function, and anti-aging properties. This is why people who are stressed, anxious, or with chronic conditions might turn to ashwagandha to help ease their condition .
Ashwagandha is made up of carbohydrates, proteins, very little fat, and a significant amount of crude fiber. It contains iron, calcium, and vitamin C and is loaded with medicinal chemicals, including withanolides (natural steroids), alkaloids, choline, fatty acids, amino acids, plus a variety of sugars. Historically, this Superherb has been used to treat various health conditions, from high anxiety levels to improper thyroid functioning.
Several studies have also shown ashwagandha has compounds that may help fight certain types of cancer.
Ashwagandha may also help boost fertility and promote reproductive health, especially in men. Taking it daily can increase sperm count and motility.
Ashwagandha is a long-standing remedy for arthritis and is usually used with other herbs like Boswellia and turmeric to increase benefits. It contains steroidal compounds that are beneficial for people with arthritis.
When to take ashwagandha – morning or night?
The best time to take ashwagandha depends on why you are taking ashwagandha and what form of ashwagandha you are taking. In general, ashwagandha can be taken during any time of day or night. However, one may prefer to take it in the morning or evening, depending on your tolerance and goals.
Taking Ashwagandha in the morning
Unlike many other supplements, ashwagandha’s benefits are not immediate. It can take days or weeks before you begin to notice its effects.
As such, choosing when to take ashwagandha largely depends on personal preferences and choices.
If you’re taking ashwagandha as part of your supplement routine for general health, you may wish to take it in the morning along with any other supplement or vitamins. Taking ashwagandha on an empty stomach may lead to mild stomach discomfort in some people. Therefore, you can take ashwagandha after breakfast or after eating a small snack or meal.
Alternatively, you can try adding ashwagandha to a drink, smoothie, or any other meal.
Taking Ashwagandha at night
If you are using it to promote sleep, you may opt for ashwagandha powder in moon milk before bed to help you relax.
For people who experience stomach discomfort when taking ashwagandha, taking it at night may be a better option than taking it in the morning, especially if you prefer taking it on an empty stomach.
All things considered, it’s most important to choose a time when you’ll be most consistent in taking it, as well as what feels best for you.
You can have 1 Ashwagandha capsule/tablet with water or 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of Ashwagandha powder with milk or as prescribed by the doctor. Studies suggest that 300 mg of Ashwagandha extract, taken twice daily, can help treat insomnia and enhance sleep quality.
Taking Ashwagandha for sleep
The usual Ashwagandha dosage for sleep is 250-600 mg. A few studies show that taking 300 mg Ashwagandha twice a day might help promote sleep.
That being said, your healthcare provider is the best person to prescribe the right Ashwagandha dosage for sleep.
Taking Ashwagandha for stress
It is well known that Ashwagandha can help lower the levels of stress hormones in our bodies. But what is Ashwagandha dosage for stress?
Most benefits of Ashwagandha for lowering stress are seen when a 500-600 mg dosage is taken daily for at least a month.
When to take Ashwagandha before or after a meal?
Supplements like Ashwagandha work best when taken on an empty stomach since it is the most effective then and allows the full power of the herb to hit the system at once.
However, sometimes consuming Ashwagandha on an empty stomach can cause discomfort. Therefore, the recommended & best time to take Ashwagandha is 30 to 45 minutes after the meal.
Ashwagandha has Ushna Virya (Hot potency), so for some people, sometimes it causes discomfort in the stomach, acidity, or flatulence when taken on an empty stomach before a meal. So if you are experiencing discomfort after taking it on an empty stomach, consider having it after a meal.
How to take ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha can be taken as:
1) Ashwagandha Powder (Churna)– to make this, Ashwagandha roots – which have maximum medicinal benefits, are dried, cut, and sifted for tea or powdered to be taken with milk.
▪ How to take it– Take 1/4-1/2 teaspoon Ashwagandha powder (churna) with milk or honey. It is advisable to consult with a doctor on the dosage based on the health condition you are trying to treat.
▪ Can be taken twice every day after meals.
- Ashwagandha Milkshake
♦ How to take it– Roast 4 tablespoons of Ashwagandha powder (churna) in 1 cup of pure ghee. Add 1-2 teaspoons of honey to it. To consume, add 1 teaspoon powder to a glass of cold milk. Blend it well and drink immediately. This mixture can be stored for later use.
♦ You can skip/omit honey in case you have high blood sugar levels
- Ashwagandha Churna balls /Ladoo
▪ Ashwagandha churna balls are made with herbs like Safed Musli, and Shilajit to maximize the health benefits of Ashwagandha for hair, skin, and immunity.
▪ How to take it? -Take 2 tablespoons of Ashwagandha powder (churna) and add 1 tablespoon jaggery powder to it. Add a pinch of pepper and black salt to the
mixture to enhance the taste. Knead the mixture evenly and properly. Make round-shaped balls with the above mixture in a circular motion between your palms. Can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
▪ Take 1 Ashwagandha churna ball empty stomach in the morning
▪ Have it every morning or as prescribed by the doctors for best results.
- Moon Milk
- Moon Milk
Moon milk made from a mixture of honey, cinnamon, and cow’s milk is a warm drink derived from Ayurvedic traditions typically. You may consider moon milk to be a distant cousin of the much treasured ‘Haldi doodh’.
This drink is ideal for calming down your senses. If we talk about the basic ingredients of moon milk – nutmeg, ashwagandha, and milk – all of these are packed with nutrients that help reduce stress and induce sleep. At night, the body goes into that physiological state where the internal healing process starts; so the inclusion of these nutritional ingredients will help in accelerating the process.
How to make it: Step 1. Heat the milk in medium/low flame. Add ashwagandha, turmeric, and nutmeg to it then switch off the flame and close the lid.
Step 2. Let the milk sit for 5-10 minutes to get the spices infused.
Step 3. Add coconut oil and whisk well. You may also add some sugar, palm sugar, honey, or maple syrup to the milk if you want.
Step 4. Pour the milk into a glass and drink before you go to bed.
You can replace the whole milk with coconut milk, almond milk, soy milk, or any other vegan milk.
2) Ashwagandha Tea- This is the best caffeine-free drink to soothe you into a restful sleep every night. All you need to do is boil the herb’s roots in water to infuse the water.
▪ How to make it- Add 1 teaspoon of Ashwagandha powder to 2 cups of water. Bring it to a boil until it reduces to 1/2 of the original quantity. Add some milk and honey to it. Drink once a day. You can omit honey in case you have high blood sugar levels.
3) Ashwagandha chocolate – A dark chocolate infused with Ashwagandha. This combination helps in boosting libido and acts as a natural aphrodisiac.
4) Ashwagandha Oil – From arthritis to even a sore day after working out, Ashwagandha oil is your go-to since it relieves muscle tension.
5) Ashwagandha paste for your hair – Ashwagandha can reverse premature graying of hair by producing melanin – the pigment responsible for the color of your hair.
6) Ashwagandha Tablets– This is the most hassle-free and convenient way to take Ashwagandha. These can be taken twice a day. Here’s how to take Ashwagandha tablets.
- Take 1-2 Ashwagandha tablets with water or warm milk after your meals ▪ Have this twice a day, after lunch and dinner
- It is always advisable to consult the doctor first to know the correct dosage based on your needs and get the best results more effectively.
How Long does it take for Ashwagandha to actually start working?
It can take some time for ashwagandha to begin working within the body, and the duration also varies by the individual taking it and their health goal. It can take days to weeks or even months before you begin to notice its effects.
For instance, it will take longer to see weight loss with ashwagandha than to see it alleviate stress and anxiety. In a study involving 60 people who took 300 mg of ashwagandha daily, it took longer than 10 weeks for them to observe its full effects on their sleep quality compared with those in the control groups. 
Is it safe to take Ashwagandha Daily?
Ashwagandha is a medicinal herb that may offer several health benefits, such as improved blood sugar, inflammation, mood, memory, stress, and anxiety, as well as a boost in muscle strength and fertility.
If you take it in the form of powder, take 5g or 1 spoon every day. If you consume ashwagandha supplements, one pill would be sufficient for a day.
The long-term safety of ashwagandha is not known. Large doses of ashwagandha might cause stomach upset, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Though there’s a scientific basis for claiming these doses safely, everybody is different, and so is their tolerance to specific supplements. Starting low will help you gauge your tolerance, and you should discuss the upper range with a medical professional.
Benefits of Ashwagandha
- Reduces anxiety & stress 
- Helps enhance sleep 
- Boosts testosterone & helps treat male infertility 
- Reduce blood glucose levels 
- Helps tackle depression 
- Beneficial in boosting energy
- Has anti-cancer properties 
- Has antioxidant & anti-inflammatory properties
Who should not take Ashwagandha?
Unfortunately, the use of Ashwagandha by some people may lead to serious side effects. Following groups of people should avoid using Ashwagandha :
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding: Women who are pregnant should not take Ashwagandha. Also, women who are breastfeeding. 
For people with low sugar levels: This herb can further drop their blood glucose levels for people having low glucose levels. 
Adults Scheduled for Surgery: Ashwagandha may cause excessive sedation when combined with anesthetic medications so you should stop taking Ashwagandha at least two weeks before having surgery. 
Adults With a Gastric Ulcer: You should avoid Ashwagandha if you have ulcers in the stomach.
People with thyroid disorders: Anyone being treated for hyperthyroidism should also avoid ashwagandha supplements, as they can further increase thyroid hormone levels. 
Also, people who are taking sedative medications, medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs), medications that decrease immunity (Immunosuppressants), and people with thyroid disorders should check in with their doctor before trying Ashwagandha supplements.
As is the case with virtually anything in life, what works for your friend’s, mom’s, or favorite influencer’s body isn’t necessarily going to work well with your anatomy. So you must speak to your physician and do your research on any supplement before adding it to your daily routine. While this super herb has an array of studies to back up its benefits, this known stress-buster can also induce unpleasant side effects.
Taking ashwagandha helps reduce the symptoms of stress to help one feel more at ease. But if you develop coping tools to help manage stress in the future, that will help you better in the long run. It is essential to take it over long-term for at least three months to have biological changes to build the body’s resilience to anxiety, stress, etc.
Most people are in the dilemma of finding the best time to take ashwagandha to gain maximum benefits. So the best time of day to take ashwagandha is both in the morning and at night based on one’s goal and preference.
Q: How long does ashwagandha stay in your system?
A: It varies from person’s body makeup and metabolism speed but it is generally easy to digest.
Q: Can I take Ashwagandha and Shatavari together?
A: Yes, Ashwagandha and Shatavari can be taken together, Ashwagandha works to build stamina and Shatavari may increase the sperm count and libido. Together, they help improve strength and sexual health.
Q: What can you not take with ashwagandha?
A: Taking ashwagandha along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.
Q: Which is the best ashwagandha powder or capsule?
A: Ashwagandha powder, because it is a more natural source rather than a capsule.
- Sophia E. Gerontakos, David Casteleijn, Alexander N. Shikov, and Jon Wardlea, A Critical Review to Identify the Domains Used to Measure the Effect and Outcome of Adaptogenic Herbal Medicines, Yale journey of biology and medicine, June 2020.
- Morgan A. Pratte, BS, Kaushal B. Nanavati, MD, Virginia Young, MLS, and Christopher P. Morley, An Alternative Treatment for Anxiety: A Systematic Review of Human Trial Results Reported for the Ayurvedic Herb Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), 2014.
- Jaysing Salve, Sucheta Pate, Khokan Debnath, and Deepak Langade, Adaptogenic and Anxiolytic Effects of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Healthy Adults: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Clinical Study,NCBI, 2019.
- Deepak Langade, Subodh Kanchi,Jaising Salve, Khokan Debnath, and Dhruv Ambegaokar, Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract in Insomnia and Anxiety: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Study, 2019.
- L.C. Mishra,B.B. Singh, Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha): A Review, September 2000.
- MedlinePlus, Ashwagandha, U.S. National Library of Medicine,2020
- Zahra Samadi Noshahr , Mohammad Reza Shahraki , Hassan Ahmadvand , Davood Nourabadi , Alireza Nakhaei ,Protective effects of Withania somnifera root on inflammatory markers and insulin resistance in fructose-fed rats, PubMed, 2015,
- Ashok Kumar Sharma , Indraneel Basu , Siddarth Singh,Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Subclinical Hypothyroid Patients: A Double-Blind, Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial,National Library of Medicine, 2017.
- Adrian L. Lopresti, Peter D. Drummond, and Stephen J, Smith, A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Study Examining the Hormonal and Vitality Effects of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in Aging, Overweight Males, National Library of Medicine,2019.
- Jessica M Gannon , Jaspreet Brar, Abhishek Rai, K N Roy Chengappa, Effects of a standardized extract of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) on depression and anxiety symptoms in persons with schizophrenia participating in a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial, National Library of Medicine, 2019.
- Dushani L. Palliyaguru, Shivendra V. Singh, and Thomas W. Withania somnifera: from prevention to treatment of cancer, National Library of Medicine, 2016.