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When it comes to the world of adaptogens and stress-helping supplements, ashwagandha is one of the most talked-about. “Ashwagandha has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties,” says Kelsey Lorencz, RDN. “As an adaptogen, it has the ability to help our bodies better respond to stress. Unlike other adaptogens, ashwagandha has more of a sedative effect, which can be helpful for people who tend to be anxious or nervous. While it can help your body respond to chronic and oxidative stress, it can also help with tension and nerves.”
Meet the Expert
- Kelsey Lorencz, RDN, owner of Graciously Nourished.
- Kimberly Snyder is a three-time New York Times best-selling author, a plant-based celebrity nutritionist, holistic wellness expert, and the founder of Solluna by Kimberly Snyder.
- Mona Fahoum, ND, owner of Meridian Medicine in Seattle.
- Faatimah Bah, a dietitian in Saudi Arabia.
- Nicole Avena, Ph.D., author of Why Diets Fail.
What to Look For in an Ashwagandha Supplement
When it comes to choosing an ashwagandha supplement, Snyder says that, first and foremost, you want to make sure it has the USDA organic stamp. Brands can pretty freely include the words “natural” and “organic” on product packaging regardless of whether or not the formulas are fully organic, but the USDA stamp should ensure that the supplement is made from at least 95% organic ingredients.
Whole herb formulas
Snyder also recommends looking for supplements that contain the whole herb rather than herb extractions. This way, you can ensure you receive the maximum amount of benefits from the plant.
Properly grown and sourced
Where and how ashwagandha is grown will affect how efficacious it will be. “While ashwagandha can grow all around the world, traditionally black soil is considered the most ideal condition for this plant, which is where nature can concentrate its active compounds,” says Snyder. “One such place is the Nagori region of central India, where the high altitude, black soil, and limited rain and fertilizer allow the plant to flourish to its fullest potential.”
In addition to being grown in black soil, Snyder stresses the importance of going with a brand that understands that harvesting time is to be respected. “The fruits of the ashwagandha plant should be mature but not dried out, which is when the active principles are the highest.”
Of course, not all of this information may be listed on a product label, so be sure to do your research or reach out to a brand directly before making a purchase.
Now, which supplement to try? We asked nutrition experts to weigh in on the best ashwagandha supplements, below.
Best Overall: Life Extension Optimized Ashwagandha
Ready, set…reduce your stress levels! “I like this product for patients who need extra stress support,” says Anya Rosen, MS, RD, CPT, a functional medicine practitioner in New York City. The supplement contains Sensoril ashwagandha extract, which is made from ashwagandha’s root and leaf. “It contains both the root and leaf, and 10 percent withanolide, so it’s very potent,” she adds.
Key Ingredients: Sensoril Ashwagandha extract | Age Range: Adult | Dosage: 1 capsule | Certified: cGMP-certified by NSF International
Note that when using these products, or any type of supplement, it’s important to consult your doctor for proper dosing information, especially if you are pregnant and/or breastfeeding, or have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.
Best Budget: Himalaya Ashwagandha Capsules
“This scientifically proven formula is made with 100 percent pure extracts of ashwagandha,” says Faatimah Bah, a dietitian in Saudi Arabia. “The ashwagandha content per capsule is 670 milligrams, and much of this is at a higher concentration than a standard supplement.” And, at less than 50 cents per capsule, they’re relatively budget-friendly.
Key Ingredients: Organic ashwagandha powder, organic ashwagandha extract, organic ashwagandha supercritical C02 extract | Age Range: Adult 18+ | Dosage: 1 capsule | Certified: USDA organic, non-GMO, GMP, Good Laboratory Practice Certification
Best Drugstore: YouTheory Ashwaganda
Manufactured in a facility that processes fish extracts
Many ashwagandha supplements sell online, but here’s one you may be able to find in your local drugstore. “This is a great ashwagandha supplement because it contains KSM-66, which is an organic, full-spectrum ashwagandha extract that is sourced from the root,” says Nicole Avena, Ph.D., author of Why Diets Fail. “It comes in easy-to-take vegetarian capsules, and it is also dairy, soy, and gluten-free.”
Key Ingredients: Organic ashwagandha root extract, organic ashwagandha root powder, and ginger root extract | Age Range: Adult 18+ | Dosage: 2 capsules | Certified: Non-GMO
Best Powder: Apothékary Ashwagandha
No indication it's third-party verified
Yup, blending ashwagandha into lattes is a thing. “I love this supplement, which comes in powder form and can be easily added to smoothies, lattes, or other warm drinks,” says Gena Hamshaw, RD, a registered dietitian in New York City and author of The Full Helping blog. “I like adding it to turmeric lattes when I'm winding down in the evening. Apothékary supplements are organic, fair trade, and non-GMO, and the brand has really high standards around ingredient quality and purity.”
Key Ingredients: Ashwagandha | Age Range: Adult 18+ | Dosage: 1 teaspoon | Certified: Whole30 compliant
Best for Sleep: Integrative Therapeutics Cortisol Manager
Although most ashwagandha supplements are meant for stress management, some can help with sleep. “This supplement is great for chronic insomnia due to stress,” says Tricia Pingel, NMD, a naturopathic physician specializing in stress and adrenal fatigue. “It contains nutrients needed to restore proper sleep-wake cycles and to help improve both sleep quality and quantity. These include ashwagandha, L-theanine, epimedium, and phosphatidylserine from soy lecithin. Ashwagandha is an herb that combats stress, which is often a major underlying cause of many sleep disorders."
Additionally, phosphatidylserine is a fatty substance produced by your body naturally and that’s incredibly important in your brain and spinal cord as it aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, adds Pingel. “As a supplement, it has been shown to support the body’s stress response, which is a very common cause of restless nights,” she says.
Key Ingredients: Ashwagandha, L-theanine, magnolia bark extract, phosphatidylserine | Age Range: Adult 18+ | Dosage: 2 tablets | Certified: Vegan, NSF, Emerson Quality Program
Best Organic: ORGANIC INDIA Ashwagandha
If you’re wanting to purchase an organic product, look no further than this pick. “This supplement contains a huge percentage of the root extract,” says Bah. “The ashwagandha is grown sustainably, using regenerative agriculture. This is a plus if you care about the environment.”
Key Ingredients: Organic ashwagandha root | Age Range: Adult 18+ | Dosage: 2 capsules | Certified: USDA organic, non-GMO, B corporation, halal
Best for Stress: Nature Made Calm & Relax
No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
This product is designed to promote relaxation. “This is my top pick, as it contains 125 milligrams of ashwagandha and 300 milligrams of magnesium,” says Allison Koch, PhD, RDN, PrEP Program Director ALFA in Hickory, NC. “Pairing the calming mineral magnesium with ashwagandha is a win-win. I can honestly say this was my go-to supplement that I was excited to find extremely helpful during the very stressful work-from-home days of 2020.”
Key Ingredients: Magnesium oxide and Sensoril ashwagandha | Age Range: Adult 18+ | Dosage: 2 capsules | Certified: USP verified
Best for Brain Health: Thorne Memoractiv
The first ingredient in this supplement, which is designed to support brain health, is ashwagandha—and you also get doses of acetyl-L carnitine, ginkgo phytosome, bacopa extract, pterostilbene, caffeine, lutein, and zeaxanthin isomers. “Thorne Memoractiv supports brain health and mood-boosting abilities if taken consistently,” says Mona Fahoum, ND, owner of Meridian Medicine in Seattle. Note that ginkgo is a blood thinner, so discuss with your doctor before taking this supplement.
Key Ingredients: Ashwagandha, acetyl-L carnitine, ginkgo phytosome, bacopa extract, pterostilbene, caffeine, lutein, zeaxanthin isomers | Age Range: Adult 18+ | Dosage: 2 capsules | Certified: cGMP certification from NSF International
Best Splurge: Nootropics Depot Shoden Ashwagandha Extract Powder
Not for anyone pregnant or nursing
“This powder is one of my favorites,” says Lacey Dunn, RD, author of Women’s Guide to Hormonal Harmony. “It includes the highest bioavailable withanolide content available for stress, sleep, and anxiety support. I prefer knowing the exact withanolide content, which is the beneficial and active compound within ashwagandha that provides most of its benefits.” Per the supplement’s product page, Shoden is a clinically tested, purified extract of ashwagandha that’s made from carefully selected roots and leaves. At $40 for 30 grams, the powder is a bit of a splurge, but we vote that it's worth it.
Key Ingredients: Shoden ashwagandha | Age Range: Adult 18+ | Dosage: 120 milligrams | Certified: N/A
Ashwagandha supplements can help with everything from stress to sleep to brain health. Team Byrdie’s top pick is Life Extension Optimized Ashwagandha, while Nootropics Depot Shoden Ashwagandha Extract Powder is also top-rated. Trying to save dollars? Himalaya Ashwagandha Capsules are less than 50 cents per capsule.
What are the benefits of ashwagandha supplements?
“The most notable benefit ashwagandha supplements offer is their effect on lowering stress levels,” says Bah. “The herb is classified as an adaptogen, which indicates its capability to normalize physiologic processes and thereby stabilize the body's response to stress. Studies suggest that ashwagandha not only lowers stress levels but provides the mind with protection against future stress—which is said to improve quality of life.”
And ashwagandha may have other benefits. “Some people also use ashwagandha for improving thinking ability, reducing pain and swelling, and to increase libido,” says Bah.
Can you take ashwagandha supplements with other supplements?
According to Snyder, you can take ashwagandha with other supplements. “To date, there are no major studies I’m aware of that show ashwagandha to have any interactions with other drugs or supplements,” she says. “However, if you’re concerned or on prescription drugs, you should always ask your doctor about taking any herbs.”
When should you take ashwagandha supplements?
You can take ashwagandha at different times of the day, depending on your health goals. “If you’re looking to consume ashwagandha for general health promotion, it’s recommended to take it on an empty stomach in the morning,” says Snyder. “If you’re looking to gain bulk and strength, it’s recommended to consume ashwagandha after meals.”
How often should you take ashwagandha supplements?
With ashwagandha, you can’t just pop a supplement and hope to feel chill immediately. You need to take it daily. “The key with ashwagandha and any other adaptogen is giving it time to work,” says Lorencz. “It can take up to 60 days of regular consumption to see and feel the benefits.”
Do ashwagandha supplements expire?
Yes, they do. "As with any herbal or medicinal supplement, the longer it's exposed to air and sunlight, the less effective it will be,” says Lorencz. “It won't necessarily go bad at a certain date, but the longer it's exposed to the elements the more likely it is to decrease in effectiveness.” Keep your supplement, root, or powder in an airtight container and in a dark and cool location to help keep it potent as long as possible, she suggests.
Why Trust Byrdie
Byrdie contributor Amy Gorin, MS, RDN is a registered dietitian nutritionist and has over a decade of experience in the nutrition industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. She specializes in plant-based nutrition and is one of the most recognized nutrition experts in America. For this piece, she interviewed 10 additional experts to weigh in on the benefits of ashwagandha, as well as provide their product picks.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find any ashwagandha supplements from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at email@example.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.