Ashwagandha is a medicinal supplement derived from the Withania somniferum plant, a member of the pepper family commonly found in Africa and India. Ashwagandha contains a class compounds called withanolides, which may help reduce stress and inflammation while boosting immune system activity in the body. Despite these purported health benefits, there are some people who should not take ashwagandha. If you have questions about ashwagandha contraindications, seek additional guidance from your primary medical provider.
Ashwagandha may induce abortion if used during pregnancy. For this reason, expectant mothers should avoid taking this herbal supplement.
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Adults With a Stomach Ulcer
Treatment with ashwagandha supplements may cause mild to moderate stomach irritation. Adults with a stomach ulcer should avoid taking ashwagandha, as this supplement may exacerbate symptoms associated with this health condition.
Adults With an Autoimmune Disease
Increased immune system activity may occur following treatment with ashwagandha. Consequently, adults with any type of autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis or lupus, should not take this supplement. Improper use of ashwagandha may make your disease symptoms worse.
Adults Taking Certain Medications
If you're taking certain prescription medications, ashwagandha supplementation may be inappropriate. Concomitant use of ashwagandha and immunosuppressants, such as prednisone, azathioprine, cyclosporine and basiliximab, should be avoided. Combining these treatments may counteract the effectiveness of immunosuppressive therapy. Ashwagandha may cause drowsiness and should not be used in conjunction with other sedative medications, including lorazepam, alprazolam, zolpidem or phenobarbital. Additionally, ashwagandha may increase thyroid hormone production and should not be used with other thyroid hormone drugs. If your body produces too much thyroid hormone, you may be at risk for developing hyperthyroidism.
Adults Scheduled for Surgery
Do not take ashwagandha within two weeks of surgery. When combined with anesthetic medications, ashwagandha may cause excessive sedation.
Potential Side Effects
Ashwagandha may cause mild to moderate side effects during treatment. Stomach irritation caused by this herbal treatment may result in diarrhea or vomiting. Chronic diarrhea may lead to electrolyte loss and may increase your risk of becoming dehydrated. Seek prompt care from your doctor if stomach discomfort becomes severe or if diarrhea or vomiting persists for more than two to three days.