More commonly known as ashwagandha, the Withania somnifera plant has been used in Ayurvedic medicine in Asia for thousands of years to help relieve stress and anxiety, boost energy levels, and improve cognitive functions. It has also earned the support of dozens of clinical studies that prove its effectiveness. But to zero in on the best ashwagandha supplements, you'll want to look for options that are made from the root of the plant, have a declared withanolide content (in your preferred concentration), and have been evaluated by independent laboratories.
The bottle you choose should clearly indicate the level of withanolides contained (usually from 2 to 10%). This active ingredient is where the "magic" of this herb comes from, according to Maria Sorbara Mora, a registered dietician and founder of the New York-based practice Integrated Eating. Mora tells Mic that the "dense concentration" of withanolides inside the plant are so powerful that they are believed to to help fight inflammation and the growth of tumors.
Of course, it's important to talk to your doctor to get the OK before starting any new supplement — especially if you have any underlying health concerns. That said, beginners and those with more sensitive stomachs may want to opt for a lower dosage to start as two of the potential side effects of ashwagandha are upset stomach and diarrhea.
Root vs. leaf extracts
Ashwagandha can be extracted from both the leaves and the root of the plant, but you'll want to narrow down your choice to one that's drawn from the roots only. Leaves are less likely to be standardized as safe and don't come with nearly as many verified health benefits.
The final step in ensuring you're buying an effective and pure product is to look for options that have third-party testing done by independent labs and are made in facilities that have been registered as meeting Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) by NSF International.
Whether you're looking for a mild supplement to start with, or the maximum concentration, you'll find four of the best ashwagandha supplements below.
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