Ashwagandha Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 11/22/22 •  10 min read

What are ashwagandha benefits and side effects every ethical consumer must know? Here are ashwagandha pros and cons and how buying them will impact your health, the environment, animals and laborers. 

ashwagandha benefits and side effects

Food is something we consume every day. If you’re like me, you do all the research you can to make sure you don’t hurt yourself, the planet, animals or others when shopping. As an ethical consumer myself, I am giving you all the info I’ve found on ashwagandha benefits and side effects.

You are going to learn all about ashwagandha benefits and side effects. This will include ashwagandha benefits for your health and potential risks, ashwagandha water footprint and carbon footprint, sustainability, if ashwagandha is vegan or impact animals in other ways, and much more. 

After learning if ashwagandha is good or bad for you, the environment, animals and human rights, you will be able to make the best choices you can the next time you buy food.

This post is all about ashwagandha benefits and side effects that every ethical consumer should know.

Top Ashwagandha Benefits And Side Effects

Health

Ashwagandha benefits may include:

Ashwagandha side effects may include:

Additionally, ashwagandha is…

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Environment

Water footprint: low, it takes 387 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of starchy roots / 46 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of starchy roots

Carbon footprint: low, 0.4 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of starchy roots, a car driving equivalent of 1 miles or 1.5 kilometers

Destruction: low, ashwagandha production is relatively sustainable, there is no significant damage to air, water, land, soil, forests, etc., buy Non-GMO/organic, as toxic, chemical pesticides contaminate air, water, soil, etc.

Ashwagandha is…

Animals

Kills: none, ashwagandha production does not require any animals

Harms: none, ashwagandha production does not require any animals

Indirectly kills or harms: none, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as pesticides harm and kill wildlife and ecosystems by contaminating soil, water, air and plants that animals eat

Ashwagandha is…

Laborers

Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible

Living conditions: laborers often experience exploitation, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place

Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits

Ashwagandha…

What are ashwagandha uses?

Use ashwagandha to make smoothies, teas, energy balls, moon milk, sleep tonic, lattes, hot chocolate, and more.

Where does ashwagandha come from?

Most ashwagandha comes from India but also parts of Africa, the Middle East and even the U.S.

Is ashwagandha good for you? Nutritious?

Yes! Ashwagandha is high in withanolides and antioxidants.

What are other names for ashwagandha?

Other names for ashwagandha are Indian ginseng, poison gooseberry and winter cherry.

gluten free foods and what to eat on a gluten free diet

ashwagandha is gluten free.

Is ashwagandha gluten free?

Yes, ashwagandha is gluten free. Ashwagandha does not contain gluten. Ashwagandha is a type of starchy root vegetable, therefore making it a naturally gluten free food. 

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

ashwagandha is not a common food allergen.

the most common food allergens include milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Is ashwagandha a common food allergen?

No, ashwagandha is not a common food allergen. Some people may experience allergic reactions to ashwagandha but it is relatively rare by comparison.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

ashwagandha is a nightshade food.

nightshade vegetables and foods include tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and more

Is ashwagandha a nightshade vegetable? Yes, ashwaganda is a nightshade food.

Common nightshade foods include:

Check out this Nightshade Foods List to see them all.

Additionally, foods commonly mistaken as nightshades (but are not) include:

Nightshade allergy reactions include:

Nightshade vegetables provide excellent nutrition, so there is no need to stop eating them unless you suspect you are sensitive to nightshade foods. If so, eliminate them from your diet to see if symptoms disappear. 

ashwagandha has a low water footprint.

water footprints of food and products

Does ashwagandha have a high or low water footprint?

Ashwagandha has a relatively low water footprint compared to other foods.

What is the water footprint of ashwagandha?

It takes 387 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of starchy roots / 46 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of starchy roots.

Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource?

How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?

Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

ashwagandha has a low carbon footprint.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Does ashwagandha have a high or low carbon footprint?

Ashwagandha has a relatively low carbon footprint compared to other foods.

What is the carbon footprint of ashwagandha?

It takes around 0.4 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of starchy roots, a car driving equivalent of 1 mile or 1.5 kilometers.

When calculating carbon emissions, some factors may include…

But that’s not all!

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

ashwagandha is sustainable.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Overall, is ashwagandha eco friendly? Is ashwagandha sustainable?

Ashwagandha production is relatively sustainable since there is no significant damage to air, water, land, soil, forests, etc. as long as there were no pesticides. Be sure to buy non GMO/organic, as toxic, chemical pesticides contaminate air, water, soil, etc. when using regenerative practices.

Additionally, a 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

In fact, consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

Read more about ‘What Makes Food Sustainable Or Unsustainable?’

ashwagandha is vegan.

vegan food to eat on a vegan diet

Is ashwagandha vegan?

Yes, ashwagandha is vegan. Ashwagandha is a medicinal herb and not an animal product or byproduct, therefore making it a vegan food. 

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

In fact, it’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non Vegan Foods List

ashwagandha may have labor issues and human rights concerns.

labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is ashwagandha a product with laborer concerns?

At this time there are no major concerns with ashwagandha production but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening! It’s important to stay aware of human rights concerns and worker exploitation that may come with specific brands.

Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Additionally, workers can even experience harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

So let’s improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade.

Be sure to read up on this list of ‘Foods You Should Always Buy Fair Trade‘ 

Conclusion

Ashwagandha pros include:

Ashwagandha cons include:

This post was all about ashwagandha benefits and side effects.

Sources:

An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda

The Effects of Ashwagandha in Endurance Exercise Performance

USDA FoodData central, organic ashwagandha powder, ashwagandha

Medical News Today: Nightshade vegetables

Adriane Marie

Hi, I'm Adriane, creator of HEALabel! I organize info for you to comprehensively see how purchases impact health, environment, animals and laborers. Stay aware because you care! Subscribe below to get my weekly newsletter with tips, new info and other ethical consumer insight.

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