In this article, we shall investigate Ashwagandha’s effects on emotional well-being based on studies, expert’s view and real-world user feedback.
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha, scientifically known as Withania somnifera, boasts a rich history in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, spanning centuries of use in India. Celebrated for its adaptogenic properties, this ancient herb is believed to reduce stress with calming and mood-lifting effects.
Nonetheless, recent claims have raised concerns about Ashwagandha’s potential to suppress emotions or dampen emotional responses.
About Emotional Well-Being & Supplementation
Emotional well-being encompasses our capacity to comprehend and navigate our emotions in a positive manner. It entails being mindful of our feelings, expressing them in suitable ways, and effectively coping with stress and adversities.
Natural supplements such as Ashwagandha and Tongkat Ali have long been used to aid emotional well-being and improve mental health.
Impact of Ashwgandha on Stress & Anxiety
Health coaches, fitness instructions, nutritioninsts and doctors are prescribing herbal supplementation such as Ashwagandha and Tongkat Ali in recent years to support a healthy mental state – predominantly by reducing stress, anxiety and depression levels.
One of the primary benefits or uses of Ashwagandha is its potential to reduce stress and anxiety. Several studies have shown that Ashwagandha can lower cortisol levels, a hormone released in response to stress.
By reducing cortisol levels, Ashwagandha may help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and promote a sense of calmness.
However, there is a potential downside that you need to be aware of if you are taking ashwagandha for a prolonged period.
Does Ashwagandha make you emotionless?
Dr. Melinda Ring, an integrative medicine specialist at Northwestern Medicine, said that Ashwagandha could potentially suppress dopamine receptors in the brain. However, ashwagandha is also thought to help regulate cortisol levels (as reported in some studies), she added.
Despite studies showing Ashwagandha reduces cortisol (stress hormones) and anxiety, Ashwagandha has profound impact on emotions, potentially causing excessive emotional numbness, feeling emotionally unresponsive based on reported by users on TikTok in recent years.
Does Ashwagandha suppress my emotions?
A 10-week study in 2022 by a group of researchers showed that long-term usage of ashwagandha may lead to a permanent suppression of adrenal function, affecting hormone production that controls your emotions. The study warned users of the potential detrimental effect of continuous use of Ashwagandha and how it may suppress your emotions due to adrenal insufficiency.
Does Ashwagandha kill your emotions forever?
Ashwagandha does not kill your emotions forever and your emotional senses will be restored after you stop taking Ashwagandha for two weeks. Most users feel more “humane” after stopping Ashwgandha supplementation.
Does Ashwagandha mess my hormones?
A case patient report study showed that a 10-week ashwagandha supplementation may cause adrenal insufficiency (or better known as Addison’s disease), a hormonal disorder that happens when the adrenal glands are not producing sufficient cortisol, aldosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. These hormones help control a variety of important functions in the body, including stress and anxiety.
Can Ashwagandha make you feel more depressed?
Dr Legrand (who is diagnosed with ADHD) reported being more depressed on the 2nd and 3rd week after taking Ashwagandha. Some users reported similar experience after taking ashwagandha.
If you are diagnosed with ADHD or exhibit any mental health symptoms, you need to avoid taking ashwagandha. It is best to consult a healthcare professional for advice before taking ashwagandha or any form of herbal supplements.
Should you feel easily depressed, or exhibit any form of emotional “numbness” or unresponsive to emotional triggers, then it is recommended to stop taking Ashwagandha completely.
What is the best alternative to Ashwagandha for anxiety or stress?
Tongkat Ali provides an alternative to Ashwagandha as studies showed that it may reduce stress, anxiety and depression by reducing cortisol levels and boost dopamine in your brain (both cortical and hippocampal). Tongkat Ali produces similar calming effects and boosts in overall mood on mildly stressed test participants.
Related Article: Tongkat Ali vs. Ashwagandha: Which is better?
Can Ashwagandha be used as a treatment for depression?
Experts’ views on Ashwagandha
“For ashwagandha to have a calming influence, a person would need to consume it regularly for several weeks — a capsule or drink infused with the supplement isn’t likely to have the kind of instant effect some manufacturers advertise.”
– Dr. Yufang Lin, Medicine Specialist, Cleveland Clinic USA
“Ashwagandha could potentially suppress dopamine receptors in the brain”
– Dr. Melinda Ring, Medicine specialist, Northwestern Medicine, USA
Lilian Cheung, a lecturer on nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health also commented that today’s ashwagandha supplements may contain higher concentrations of ingredients than are found in nature.
In other words, due to the unregulated herbal industry, you may be consuming more than what your body requires, and this practice is far from what was practiced in the traditional eastern medicine.
User reviews of Ashwagandha's effects on emotions
Medical School Professor Dr. Cam Maximus commented that Ashwagandha acts like a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) drug and may cause blunted emotions, anhedonia and apathy.
Dr. Cam Maximus is one of influential health coaches for celebrities and personalities in California who cautioned his followers against taking Ashwagandha as it is deemed overrated.
Ashwagandha is one of the most overrated supplements out there.— Dr. Cam Maximus🤴🏻 🥷🏻 🧙🏻♂️ 🤵♂️ (@DrCamRx) June 11, 2023
Just because it’s herbal doesn’t mean it’s safe; it acts a lot like an SSRI.
It reduces sensitivity of the 5-HT1A serotonin receptors and can cause anhedonia, apathy, & blunted emotions.https://t.co/GusNznVUyW
Meanwhile other users reported the same of the numbing effects of Ashwagandha due to its strong SSRI drug effects on emotions.
I urge caution around prolonged use of ashwagandha at higher doses. It can have an effect similar to SSRI’s in some causing a dulling of emotions!!— Dan Connell (@AncestralDan) July 29, 2023
A young female user reported feeling inhumane after she stop taking ashwagandha, claiming that she could not handle her emotions and not express herself to the fullest.
Her followers echoed the same sentiment, expressing negative feeling after taking ashwagandha.
I don’t know why I ever took ashwagagagacacanda— raf ❁ (@rafdelafuente) August 3, 2023
All the emotions hit you like a huge wave after hopping off of it & you forget what it’s like to deal with real emotions
I literally felt inhumane after
What do you think about ashwagandha?
Professional fitness health coach Greg O’Gallagher shared the downside of ashwagandha and how it affects emotions negatively. He warned his followers that taking ashwagandha may reduce the depth of feelings causing blunted emotions and apathy.
Ashwagandha is renowned for a range of potential health benefits which may contribute positively to emotional well-being by effectively mitigating stress and anxiety. However, it may cause emotional numbness and kill your emotions if taken continuously, or for a prolonged period of time.
If you are contemplating taking Ashwagandha to reduce your stress or anxiety, it is prudent to seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional to ascertain its suitability and safety.
Naressa Khan contributes regularly on AKARALI and is part of the global Tongkat Ali research team. As a writer and journalist, Naressa specializes in nutrition, health supplements, and natural wellness. With this approach always in mind, she explores fact-based and scientific evidence of topics related to health, herbs and natural wellness.
Our articles are third party reviewed by our panel of experts and medical advisors to ensure the facts are accurate and credible. These are validated against multiple source references which include but not limited to research studies, peer-reviewed journals, pre-clinical studies, clinical tests and other credible publications.
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