Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
February 23, 2024 ·  5 min read

How Does Ashwagandha Help With Brain Health?

In recent years, there has been growing interest in the use of natural supplements to promote brain health and cognitive function. One such supplement that has gained popularity is Ashwagandha. Derived from the root of the Withania somnifera plant, Ashwagandha has been used for centuries in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for its potential health benefits. Let’s explore the evidence and mechanisms behind Ashwagandha’s potential role in improving brain health and what to look for in a quality Ashwagandha supplement.

What is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera or Indian ginseng, is an herb native to India and parts of Africa. It is classified as an adaptogen, a group of herbs known for their ability to help the body cope with stress. Ashwagandha is known for its numerous health benefits, including stress reduction, improved sleep, and enhanced energy levels. However, its potential effects on brain health have gained significant attention in recent years. (1)

Read More: The Top 10 Medicinal Plants and Herbs for Your Health

How Does Ashwagandha Help with Brain Health?

Some studies have explored the potential cognitive benefits of Ashwagandha. One study published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements found that Ashwagandha supplementation led to significant improvements in cognitive function, including attention, information processing speed, and reaction time. (2) Another study published in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine reported that Ashwagandha extract improved memory and cognitive performance in individuals with mild cognitive impairment. (3)

The potential mechanisms behind Ashwagandha’s brain-boosting effects are still being explored. One proposed mechanism is its ability to modulate stress responses. Chronic stress has been linked to cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases. Ashwagandha has been shown to regulate cortisol secretion, the primary stress hormone, thereby reducing the negative impact of chronic stress on brain health. (4)

Ashwagandha also exhibits antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which are crucial for maintaining brain health. Oxidative stress and inflammation have been implicated in the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Ashwagandha may help protect against cognitive decline and improve overall brain function by reducing oxidative damage and inflammation.

General Benefits Backed by Science

While Ashwagandha’s potential effects on brain health are fascinating, it is important to note that it also offers several other general health benefits. Numerous studies have demonstrated its ability to reduce anxiety and stress, enhance mood, and improve sleep quality. Although not directly related to brain health, these benefits are significant contributors to overall cognitive function and mental well-being. (5)

How to Take Ashwagandha

To experience the potential brain-boosting effects of Ashwagandha, it is important to choose a high-quality supplement. When purchasing an Ashwagandha supplement, look for the following qualities:

  1. Third-party tested for impurities and potency: This ensures that the supplement contains the claimed amount of active ingredients and is free from contaminants.
  2. Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) standards: GMP certification ensures that the supplement is manufactured in a facility that follows strict quality control protocols.
  3. NSF certified: NSF certification indicates that the supplement has undergone rigorous testing and meets strict standards of safety and quality.

It is also important to follow the recommended dosage instructions provided by the manufacturer or consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance.

One ashwagandha supplement that has been used in clinical studies is KSM-66. This supplement uses only the root of the plant, no leaves. They use their own, special extraction process that doesn’t rely on the use of alcohol or chemical solvents. On their website, they say that they did 24 double-blind, placebo-controlled trials that found their supplement:

  • Reduce stress, stress-related food cravings and enhance quality of sleep
  • Enhance memory and cognition
  • Increase endurance, strength, and immune function
  • Improve sexual function in both men and women, and testosterone in men

Precautions and Potential Side Effects

While Ashwagandha is generally considered safe for most people when taken as directed, it is essential to be aware of potential side effects and precautions. Some individuals may experience mild side effects such as stomach upset or diarrhea. As an adaptogen, Ashwagandha may also interact with certain medications, including sedatives, thyroid medications, and immunosuppressants. It is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement, especially if you have underlying medical conditions or are taking medications.

The Bottom Line

Ashwagandha holds promise as a natural supplement for promoting brain health. Evidence suggests that it may have cognitive-enhancing effects, improve memory, and protect against neurodegenerative diseases. However, it is important to select a high-quality supplement that has been third-party tested for impurities, follows GMP standards, and is NSF certified. As with any supplement, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating Ashwagandha into your routine, particularly if you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking other medications.

Read More: 9 Proven Health Benefits of Ashwagandha


  1. Ashwagandha.” NIH
  2. Effects of Acute Ashwagandha Ingestion on Cognitive Function.” NCBI. Dante Xing,Choongsung Yoo, Drew Gonzalez, Victoria Jenkins, Kay Nottingham, Broderick Dickerson, Megan Leonard, Joungbo Ko, Mark Faries,Wesley Kephart, Martin Purpura, Ralf Jäger, Ryan Sowinski, Christopher J. Rasmussen, and Richard B. Kreider1. October 2022.
  3. Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha Root Extract on Cognitive Functions in Healthy, Stressed Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study.” NCBI. Kumarpillai Gopukumar, Shefali Thanawala, Venkateswarlu Somepalli, T. S. Sathyanaryana Rao, Vijaya Bhaskar Thamatam, and Sanjaya Chauhan. 2021.
  4. Does ashwagandha affect brain health?Examine
  5. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)—Current Research on the Health-Promoting Activities: A Narrative Review.” NCBI. Paulina Mikulska, Marta Malinowska, Miłosz Ignacyk, Paweł Szustowski, Joanna Nowak, Karolina Pesta, Monika Szeląg, Damian Szklanny, Eliza Judasz, Gabriela Kaczmarek, Ovinuchi Prince Ejiohuo, Magdalena Paczkowska-Walendowska, Anna Gościniak, and Judyta Cielecka-Piontek. April 2023.

    Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.