Stress Relief Supplement Is Safe to Use and "Very Effective"—But Doctors Urge Caution

Here's what to know before taking this popular pill.

If your anxiety levels have you hanging on by a thread, you may be looking for some fast support—and experts say there's a stress relief supplement that could safely help. However, they're also urging caution when it comes to long-term use. Read on to find out why Ashwagandha has been deemed "very effective," but not without an important added warning.

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Ashwagandha can serve several functions, including stress relief.

ashwagandha medicine, feel younger
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Ashwagandha is an adaptogen that experts say can help lower your levels of stress when taken in the form of a capsule, gummy, tincture, or tea.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, three features qualify a plant as an adaptogen: It's non-toxic when taken in normal doses, it helps your body cope with stress, and it allows your body to return to balance or homeostasis.

"Ashwagandha has a positive effect on the endocrine, nervous, immune and cardiovascular systems by regulating your metabolism and helping you relax by calming how your brain responds to stress," explains the health authority.

Additionally, their experts note that Ashwagandha offers antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, which protect your cells and reduce swelling.

In a recent interview with CNBC, Meena Makhijani, DO, an integrative medicine physician at UCLA Health and board-certified Ayurveda practitioner, endorsed the use of Ashwagandha for stress relief.

"It is very effective, especially when we're talking about stress and anxiety. There's thousands of years of anecdotal evidence, but also there's research that's being done," Makhijani told the news outlet.

She added that it is generally "safe for everybody," though some individuals may have an adverse reaction. This includes people with certain underlying conditions such as cancer or autoimmune disease, people who already take daily medications, and people who are pregnant.

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However, doctors urge caution about using Ashwagandha regularly.

middle-aged woman talking to doctor
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Though most people should fare well using Ashwagandha for stress relief, it's important to discuss dosage and length of use with your doctor, the Cleveland Clinic suggests.

"Before you start taking adaptogen supplements, check the label on how much and how frequently you should take them and talk with your healthcare provider to see if they have recommendations on which adaptogen is right for you," the organization's experts write.

"Usually, in Ayurveda, herbs would not just be used for life," agrees Makhijani, noting that most people limit their usage to three months or less. "Then, you might take a break," she says. "If it's used in a proper way, it would be very beneficial for most people [to take breaks]."

This will help prevent your body from building up resistance to the supplement, rendering it ineffective.

Therefore, supplements like Ashwagandha may serve as one tool in your stress relief arsenal, but experts say you shouldn't expect them to cure your chronic tension.

To do that, you'll need to adopt a range of habits that can help boost your mental health. These might include exercising, eating healthy foods, getting adequate sleep, cutting back on alcohol, avoiding stress triggers, staying connected to loved ones, and practicing mindfulness or meditation. In some cases, your doctor may also prescribe medication to lower your anxiety levels if necessary.

Stress can have major implications on your physical health, mental health, and overall wellbeing. Speak with your doctor to learn more about ways to reduce stress naturally, and whether adaptogens may also serve as a helpful addition to your plan.

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Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the medication you're taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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