Is Ashwagandha Safe During Pregnancy?
If you are interested in holistic healing, health, and wellness, you have probably heard of ashwagandha over the past several years. The traditional herbal supplement has skyrocketed in popularity recently, but it is nothing new. It has been used for thousands of years in traditional Middle Eastern medicine. Although you may have heard of this ancient root before, how much do you really know? If you are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant, you may want to learn more, so you can answer the question, can you take ashwagandha while pregnant. Below we will talk about what ashwagandha is, its benefits, side effects, and if it is known to be safe during pregnancy. We will also discuss how to use it and where you can purchase this popular supplement. Keep reading to learn more.
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), is also known as “Indian Winter cherry” or “Indian Ginseng.” It is an evergreen shrub found in India, Africa, and parts of the Middle East.
Ayurvedic medicine is the traditional medicine practiced in India. It is a tradition of healing that uses nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, and herbs to balance the body, mind, and spirit. Different parts of the plant, including the leaves, seeds, and fruit are used for different treatments. It is part of the nightshade family. If you have a sensitivity to nightshades, this is something to be mindful of if you are interested in using it.
Ashwagandha Health Benefits
Ashwagandha has long been used to normalize cortisol levels which reduces the body’s stress response. The use of ashwagandha is also shown to reduce inflammation, reduce cancer risks, improve memory, improve immune function, and have anti-aging properties.
In Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha is a Rasayana. A Rasayana means that it is believed to help maintain youth, both physically and mentally. Its neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects are the subjects of ongoing studies. Because inflammation underlines many health conditions, ashwagandha has caused much hope among many with chronic conditions. Using the supplement to reduce inflammation can protect your body against many illnesses. Ashwagandha can be used to help treat:
- skin conditions
Seeing all these benefits, I am sure you are interested to know, can you take ashwagandha while pregnant? Keep reading as we discuss the research or lack of about ashwagandha and its safety for pregnant women.
Is Ashwagandha Safe During Pregnancy?
Ashwagandha is not considered safe to be taken during pregnancy. There are several reasons why this supplement is recommended to be avoided by pregnant women. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), deemed it unsafe because it can possibly cause miscarriages and trigger uterine contractions and premature birth.
In traditional medicine, it is still widely used, but usually in very small doses. These doses are prescribed and monitored by the pregnant woman’s doctor or natural healer. You should always consult a professional before starting any new supplement or vitamin that may affect your health and your baby.
Can You Take Ashwagandha While Pregnant?
The supplement is said to be unsafe to be consumed during pregnancy by many large medical organizations. The root has compounds that may trigger early menstruation and contractions. There are Eastern medicine practitioners who believe pregnant women can consume it in small doses. These are doses of no more than 1/2 to 1 teaspoon daily. If you are interested in using ashwagandha while pregnant, it is best to speak to your medical provider before adding it to your supplement and vitamin routine.
Ashwagandha and Pregnancy
As discussed above, there is evidence that ashwagandha can contribute to uterine contractions and possibly cause miscarriages. Due to this fact, if you are looking to use ashwagandha during your pregnancy, you should speak to your doctor before purchasing and using the supplement. They may have advice on how much and what formulation is best. They also may tell you when during your pregnancy it may be safest for use. The lack of solid research on the supplement can make it hard to definitively claim one way or the other the safety of ashwagandha in pregnant women.
Ashwagandha and Fertility in Women
In Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha has been used for centuries to aid women in fertility. Ashwagandha enhances the endocrine system. It helps to regulate the thyroid and adrenal glands. These glands are responsible for maintaining the balance of a woman’s reproductive hormones. They play an essential role in treating female infertility. Ashwagandha is also very iron-rich. Ashwagandha may have benefits for women suffering from iron-deficient anemia who may have issues conceiving or have had frequent miscarriages.
Ashwagandha is known to be an essential restorative herb for postpartum support. There is evidence it stimulates milk production, rebuilds physical strength, and reduces stress. Studies have shown that ashwagandha promotes antioxidant activity and has anti-inflammatory and immune-protecting properties. The antioxidant activity reduces damage from free radicals in the body. One of the most popular uses of ashwagandha by a woman after giving birth is for postpartum anxiety.
Postpartum anxiety affects 10% of women. Postpartum anxiety causes women to be overly anxious about everything related to their newborn. Racing thoughts, constantly worrying, and physical symptoms like heart palpitations are common. Experiencing anxiety like this causes these women to lose sleep, be unable to leave the house, and are not able to enjoy this new and exciting phase of their life. Many naturopathic physicians will suggest ashwagandha to help alleviate this condition. It works via the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA-axis). Ashwagandha helps modulate the stress hormones the body produces. It can also help to support optimal energy and to work well for postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression.
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Ashwagandha Side Effects
Medical News Today reports that most people can usually take ashwagandha in small-to-medium doses without side effects. As of today, there have not been enough studies to examine the possible side effects of ashwagandha. On the other hand, taking large amounts of ashwagandha can cause digestive upset, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Those side effects are believed to be because of the irritation of the intestinal mucosa.
Ways to Use Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is sold in capsules, tinctures, and even gummies but is most commonly and popularly found in powder form. Powdered ashwagandha is traditionally mixed with honey, ghee, or water. It can be ingested or even applied topically to alleviate inflammation. Ashwagandha powder has an earthy, bitter flavor. It is possible to counteract that bitter flavor. You can mix the powder into sweet desserts, hot beverages, and smoothies. It has an earthy flavor that lends itself well to making a homemade hot cocoa recipe that you can drink before bed to help you relax and sleep well. For those looking for relief without the bitter taste, the capsules can be the best form to take the supplement.
Where Can I Buy Ashwagandha?
As with any supplement, you will want to do your due diligence and research before purchasing. Ashwagandha is available in many different forms. The most popular being powders and also in capsule form. The supplement can be purchased online, at vitamin and natural food stores, and many times through holistic and Eastern medicine practitioners.
According to the American Botanical Society, ashwagandha is not regulated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States. It is not listed as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), and it does it appear in the GRAS Notice Inventory database. The lack of regulation means it is up to you as a consumer to make sure you are purchasing a high-quality supplement from a reputable retailer.
Ashwagandha Capsules by NutriRise
Ashwagandha Gummies by Goli
Ashwagandha Root Powder by Organic
If you are looking for stress and inflammation relief, anti-aging properties, and immune support, ashwagandha is a tried and true health supplement. It has been around for thousands of years in traditional medicine. Its benefits can be life-changing for those it is effective. Unfortunately, there is a lack of strong scientific evidence as to its benefits for pregnant women.
The evidence we do have shows that its potential side effects may outweigh its benefits. The correlation between ashwagandha and miscarriages is not one to be overlooked. If you are interested in finding out, can you take ashwagandha while pregnant, and adding it or any supplement to your vitamin and supplement routine, it is best to speak to your healthcare provider before doing so. They may have a deeper understanding of ashwagandha, and their knowledge of your individual health and pregnancy can help you make an informed decision. Supplements that are unregulated by the FDA always come with risks, especially when you are pregnant.
Ashwagandha, without a doubt, is a powerful ancient supplement used for thousands of years in traditional medicine. It will be up to you and your physician or healer to decide if it is safe for you during pregnancy or if you should wait until postpartum to begin reaping its benefits.