Perhaps you find yourself struggling with anxiety from time to time. Or your focus and memory aren’t what they used to be. Maybe you’re fighting tooth and nail for every rep in the gym and not seeing results. It turns out that a single botanical ingredient — ashwagandha — may be able to help with all three of these issues. Ashwagandha seems to do everything, from helping you sleep better to improving men’s experience in bed. But are these claims too good to be true? In this guide, we’ll break down the research and point you to the ashwagandha supplements that might be best for your needs.
If you’re in a hurry, here’s a look at our top picks:
With its Shoden ashwagandha, Nootropics Depot delivers high potency and the best value on the market.
If you’d prefer more widely studied ashwagandha, the company also offers great KSM-66 or Sensoril supplements, but our top pick is Shoden ashwagandha. Third-party testing ensures high quality.
Your brain is a delicate organ, and there are hundreds of supplements on the market that all claim to improve its functioning. We’ve spent hundreds of hours researching and testing supplements that claim to alter your mental state, including nootropic compounds with dozens of ingredients and specialized products like ashwagandha. For this review alone, we read more than 50 scientific studies looking at the safety and efficacy of ashwagandha extract and its oft-partnered ingredients.
Like all health-related content on this website, this review was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy. We’ll keep an eye on the latest science and shifting product options for ashwagandha supplements to ensure this guide stays up-to-date.
While it plays many roles within our body, we consider ashwagandha the cousin of nootropic supplements, which influence your mind and cognitive functioning. It’s a common ingredient in those supplements, and it seems to work mainly within an important circuit in the brain. (More on that a little later in this guide.) Therefore, we judge ashwagandha based on four similar factors:
It doesn’t matter how high-quality or low-cost a supplement is if it just doesn’t work, so effectiveness is our primary concern here. Ingredient quality comes shortly after, though, since much of an ashwagandha supplement’s effectiveness relies on whether or not its extract is standardized and what kind is used. And while cost and convenience are still important, they’re much less so — most ashwagandha supplements are small capsules or gummies that are easy to take, and costs stay within a tight $20 range (between $20 and $40).
Normally, we would consider safety a major evaluation criterion, but in the case of ashwagandha supplements, it’s much less of a differentiator or even a concern. (Later in a dedicated section, we’ll share more information about the safety of ashwagandha supplements.)
Overall, Nootropics Depot’s Shoden ashwagandha powder and capsules are the most effective ashwagandha supplements with the highest quality ingredients by our measures. The powdered version is also tied for the least expensive among the products we recommend; you can get 250 servings for $40, which is an unbeatable value per serving. And while they might not work as effectively as your other ashwagandha options, Xwerks’ Ashwa gummies are the most convenient for people who hate pills and don’t have a kitchen scale at the ready to measure powder. (Xwerks is our other most cost-effective option with the lowest sticker price, though it’s 2-4 times more expensive per serving than Nootropic Depot’s Shoden.)
Winner: Nootropics Depot Shoden
One way we judge effectiveness is when a supplement can give you a big result from as little a dose as possible. That means adding less to your body and, in many cases, taking fewer pills to get the same effects. Nootropics Depot’s Shoden ashwagandha extract — which is the most potent, bioavailable ashwagandha extract on the market at 35% withanolides — is the most effective by a long shot. No one else uses Shoden extract (because it’s significantly more expensive than other options), but it contains at least seven times as many withanolides as the most common extract, KSM-66. While other products (such as Xwerks Ashwa) offer dramatically more ashwagandha extract per serving, you’re still getting the most of the compounds that matter with Nootropic Depot’s Shoden ashwagandha extracts, either in pill or powder form.
Nootropics Depot also recommends 1-2 capsules per day, which is perfectly safe considering the small base dose of 120mg per capsule. When our testing team tried them, they experienced strong effects from just one capsule; testers felt just as powerful an effect as they did from using Physician’s Choice, which has almost six times as much ashwagandha (and other compounds to increase bioavailability) in each serving.
Winner: Nootropics Depot Shoden
While a handful of companies in this guide subject their supplements to third-party testing and even share those results with their customers, Nootropics Depot’s use of Shoden ashwagandha takes quality a step further. Nootropics Depot also gets points for giving you the option to go with Shoden or the more thoroughly researched KSM-66 or Sensoril brands instead. It’s the only one among our recommended brands that lets you pick which extract you want to try, so if you find Shoden is too strong for you, you can switch to a less-intense KSM-66 without having to sacrifice the quality or switch brands.
Transparent Labs takes a close second in this category thanks to its rigorous third-party testing and the degree of information it shares with its customers, but most of our top picks use FDA-certified manufacturing facilities and third-party testing to guarantee their quality.
Tie: Nootropics Depot Shoden Powder and Xwerks Ashwa
Breaking down the cost of an ashwagandha supplement is a little more complicated than you might think. We consider the dose of each supplement and the concentration of active ingredients within a given extract.
Before getting into how this concentration affects the overall value of a supplement, let’s look at how the top brands perform in a cost-per-dose analysis. (Note that the chart shows costs for one-time, single-bottle orders for comparative purposes; you may get better deals by joining subscription programs or buying larger quantities.)
*YouTheory’s ashwagandha contains an additional 400mg of ashwagandha root powder, but without a standardized withanolide percentage for this component, it’s more illustrative to compare extract doses with known withanolide content.
With ashwagandha, the price per dose isn’t the whole picture. The active component in ashwagandha — withanolides — doesn’t correlate in the same measure with every extract. Some extracting processes can result in supplements containing up to 80% withanolides. Such potent extracts are rare, with most available supplements averaging a 5% withanolide concentration.
Here’s a look at how our top contenders compare in withanolide content:
*Again, Youtheory provides an additional source of withanolides with its included 400mg root powder. As we said above, this powder has no standardized withanolide concentration, so we chose not to make assumptions and to compare products based on concrete data alone.
We consider this a tie between Nootropics Depot and Xwerks, despite Nootropics Depot’s clear advantage in cost per dose and cost per gram of withanolides. That’s mainly because Xwerks costs a little less than half as much at the outset, and the company offers a subscription option that saves you more and adds a degree of convenience. If you’re concerned about spending a certain amount of money up-front until you know whether these supplements work for you, Xwerks is your best bet. But if you’re willing to spend a little more to save in the long run, there’s no beating Nootropics Depot.
Youtheory might have had an edge if you could quantify the withanolide concentration added by the 400mg of ashwagandha root powder in its mixture. However, we make our recommendations based on our testing and research without making assumptions, so we can’t say for sure.
Winner: Xwerks Ashwa
Ashwagandha supplements aren’t particularly inconvenient. Though it’s generally best to take them first thing in the morning, you don’t have to, and there’s no need to take them with food. Some forms are more convenient than others, though. Powders are the least convenient — you have to have a kitchen scale or special scoop to measure exactly the right dose and then mix it into water. Pills are okay, but you’ll need to have water to take them with; luckily, most ashwagandha supplements use very small capsules, so people who have a hard time swallowing large pills don’t need to worry.
For convenience, Xwerks Ashwa is the clear victor. Gummies are even easier to take than pills, and Xwerks Ashwa has a surprisingly delicious strawberry flavor and smooth texture to boot. They aren’t necessarily the best for your body; gummies are notorious for not actually providing all of the stated ingredients — not because of manufacturing errors but because of how our body breaks down a gummy. Nonetheless, Xwerks’ gummies contain 1,500mg of ashwagandha in every serving, so even accounting for the faults of gummy supplement delivery, it’ll easily provide a hearty dose.
Ashwagandha comes from the plant Withania somnifera, sometimes referred to as Indian ginseng or winter cherry. It traces its roots in Ayurvedic medicine to at least 6,000 B.C.E. That medical tradition used ashwagandha to treat ailments like arthritis, anxiety, and respiratory difficulties. It was also used to reduce inflammation and increase energy.
In recent years, studies suggest that many of these historic uses are well-grounded in our contemporary views of science. There is ample evidence that ashwagandha reduces stress and anxiety and some evidence that it can boost testosterone levels in men.
Here are the major parts of our lives researchers think ashwagandha influences:
Ashwagandha is best known for its potent anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties. Notably, it seems to downregulate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, so it isn’t putting a bandaid on the problem but addressing it at the source. It’s consistently the botanical ingredient that influences HPA activity the most, particularly when you take it in the morning.¹ Your cortisol levels are the highest a few hours after waking up in the morning and then taper off all day, so lowering cortisol levels first-thing mean they’ll be lower all day too. Ashwagandha also consistently reduces self-reported anxiety levels using scales like the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAM-A).²
Ashwagandha seems to improve most measures of how well we sleep. Since cortisol keeps you awake, it makes sense that lowering your cortisol levels improves how quickly you fall asleep and how deeply you sleep once you’re there. One study found that, in healthy adults, 72% reported higher sleep quality after taking ashwagandha, leading to higher self-reported quality of life.³ These participants slept longer, deeper, and fell asleep faster after going to bed. And when college students were given 700mg of ashwagandha daily for one month, they reported better well-being, more energy, better mental clarity, and deeper sleep, too.⁴
When given to adult men, ashwagandha increases testosterone levels more reliably than most botanical ingredients.⁵ Notably, these levels only increase in cisgender men; women don’t need to worry about ashwagandha raising their testosterone levels above what’s healthy (and it hasn’t been studied in transgender populations yet). This implies that it may improve some regulatory mechanisms, which makes sense since the relationship between testosterone and cortisol is well established; we’ve known high cortisol levels and low testosterone levels are clear endocrinological markers for stress since the mid-1990s. Higher testosterone levels also mean that men report having better sexual functioning, though this aspect isn’t true for every study.⁶
Reducing your stress alone is often enough to improve your cognitive functioning. One 2021 study, looking at the effects of 300mg of an extended-release ashwagandha capsule, found that it significantly improved sleep quality, stress, memory, focus, and overall self-reported psychological well-being over a placebo in 90 days.⁷ However, studies have started looking deeper into ashwagandha’s potential cognitive benefits. Adults with mild cognitive impairments associated with age, bipolar disorder, and psychotic disorders seem to improve in cognitive performance, executive functioning, attention, and reaction time while taking ashwagandha, according to a review of five clinical studies.⁸ Other studies have promoted it as a potential new drug candidate since it seems to support and protect against several brain disorders, but we don’t know quite how it works yet.⁹
There’s still a lot of research to be done in this sphere, but a few studies suggest that ashwagandha may improve your immune system’s ability to adapt to new infections. A randomized, placebo-controlled, and double-blind study from 2021 found that ashwagandha supplementation increased participants’ cytokine, immunoglobulin, and lymphocyte cell quantities, which means they could be more adept at identifying and crushing infections.¹⁰ Theoretically, ashwagandha could be doing this either on its own or by lowering your cortisol levels; chronic stress (and long-term high cortisol) decreases your lymphocyte counts. We don’t recommend taking ashwagandha as your first line of defense just yet, but there’s some promise for experts to explore here.
When our testers tried ashwagandha supplements for the first time, the anti-anxiety effects were very clearly apparent within an average of 30 minutes. One of our testers is notoriously good at breaking through supplements with anti-anxiety effects, but even they noted that it felt like ashwagandha “put the anxiety in a steel box” — it was difficult to induce feelings of stress or anxiety, even when they tried by thinking of potentially stressful situations. After 2-3 hours, the anti-anxiety effects seemed to wear off, and our testers felt drowsier than normal for another 2-3 hours. Some experienced a slight headache as it wore off, but no other side effects occurred among our testing team.
Ashwagandha is no replacement for prescription medication, nor is it a treatment or cure (or diagnostic measure). If you’re concerned about your daily anxiety levels or lack of sleep, reach out to your doctor first.
Most ashwagandha supplements utilize a powdered form of the roots or leaves of the plant. These supplements have no serious issues with efficacy, but they aren’t as consistent as standardized extracts. That’s because a particular class of naturally occurring steroids in ashwagandha, called withanolides, make ashwagandha’s benefits possible.
Withanolides have been the subject of numerous studies, generally related to their association with ashwagandha.¹¹ We’ve decided to focus on ashwagandha supplements with quantifiable amounts of withanolides per dose, which non-standardized powder supplements rarely provide.
There are three prominent ashwagandha extracts on the market: KSM-66, Shoden, and Sensoril. There are advantages and disadvantages for each, but we generally think Shoden is the best of the bunch. Here’s a quick breakdown:
This is the most potent of the three top branded extracts, boasting a 35% withanolide glycoside concentration. It utilizes both the root and stem of the plant and is more bioavailable than its competitors.
KSM-66 is likely the most widely used ashwagandha extract. Its 5% concentration is the smallest you’ll find but is still laudable, and its efficacy and safety are well documented in clinical studies.
Sensoril is the least costly of the three branded extracts, making it a great choice for budget-conscious customers. It has a 10% withanolide concentration, but it also contains 32% oligosaccharides. That could be a non-starter for those with IBS or people on a strict low-FODMAP diet.
Our testers did a side-by-side comparison of a KSM-66 and a Shoden ashwagandha supplement (from Physician’s Choice and Nootropics Depot, respectively). Both supplements had similar effects at similar intensities, but it’s important to note the difference in dose: 120mg of Shoden ashwagandha and 1,000mg of KSM-66 ashwagandha (combined with 15mg of BioPerine, a branded form of black pepper extract known to increase bioavailability). So while you can easily find high-quality ashwagandha extracts, note that you’ll have to look for substantially higher doses than you’d anticipate (or research suggests) with KSM-66 or Sensoril ashwagandha.
Ashwagandha supplements are generally safe for most people. We don’t know a lot about the long-term safety of ashwagandha because there hasn’t been enough research published on it yet, but throughout all of the studies on ashwagandha, very few have reported significant adverse effects. Some studies even cite that no participants dropped out because of adverse effects, which is rare for research across the board.
That said, some people have anecdotally strong negative reactions. A small proportion of people who take ashwagandha develop a fever shortly after taking it. Medical experts aren’t sure why this happens, but you shouldn’t take ashwagandha if you have a fever. And if you develop one, stop using it immediately. The fever should disappear as the effects subside in a few hours, but contact your doctor if it doesn’t.
More typical side effects of ashwagandha include:
As with any supplement, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before incorporating it into your regimen.
Despite ashwagandha’s uncanny ability to stop anxiety, there are many people who won’t benefit from it.
Ashwagandha doesn’t react well with prescription anxiety or sedative medications, including benzodiazepines like Valium or Xanax and sleep medications like Ambien. Mixing it with anything that’s depressive and quiets your central nervous system in the same ways — including alcohol and surgical anesthesia — could result in serious harm.
Likewise, ashwagandha interacts poorly with immunosuppressant medications since it seems to stimulate your immune system. It seems to affect kidneys and kidney transplants the most — one case study from 2020 found that one man with a kidney transplant experienced a full rejection of the organ after taking an ashwagandha supplement for 14 days.¹² Combined with its depressive effects, if you have any kidney problems, need surgery, take an immunosuppressant medication, or have an organ transplant (especially if it’s a kidney), we recommend you don’t take ashwagandha.
Ashwagandha also may lower blood pressure.¹³ Some studies suggest it might also lower blood sugar by boosting insulin sensitivity.¹⁴ Neither finding is consistently replicated through the scientific literature, but if you have a metabolic disorder such as diabetes or high blood pressure (or take medications to lower your blood pressure or raise insulin sensitivity, such as beta-blockers or metformin), talk to your doctor before trying ashwagandha.
If you’re allergic to nightshade, stay away from ashwagandha supplements. Ashwagandha is in the same family as nightshade plants and is related enough to induce allergic reactions. If you don’t know if you’re allergic to nightshade or not but experience itchy skin or a rash, chest pain, or difficulty breathing, cease use immediately and contact your doctor.
People who are pregnant or lactating shouldn’t take ashwagandha. There’s some evidence that it might be able to induce miscarriages in high doses.
And children under 18 shouldn’t take ashwagandha, either.
Studies looking into ashwagandha as a treatment for hypothyroidism have shown promising results. In one study, eight weeks of supplementation at 600mg (a common dose of KSM-66) normalized thyroid indices that measure TSH, T3, and T4 hormones.¹⁵ Not every study finds changes in thyroid hormones, but it’s common enough to give us pause.¹⁶
Ashwagandha’s ability to increase these hormone levels has raised concerns that patients with hyperthyroidism may be at risk of thyrotoxicosis resulting from a dangerous excess of thyroid hormones in the blood. As such, we discourage anyone with thyroid issues from trying ashwagandha without speaking to their doctor first.
Nootropics Depot is a marketplace that also offers many other products designed to boost cognition and memory, regulate mood, and reduce anxiety. These include:
Nootropics Depot is unique among the companies in our guide in offering the top three branded ashwagandha extracts on the market — Shoden, KSM-66, and Sensoril — as well as whole plant options. Of the three, we prefer Shoden, as its 35% withanolide concentration gives you more benefits from smaller doses.
Here are the best available prices for Nootropics Depot’s ashwagandha supplements:
You can also get a sample pack of all three branded ashwagandha extracts (5g of KSM-66, 10g of Shoden, and 5g of Sensoril) for $19.99.
Shipping from Nootropics Depot is only free if you spend more than $50. None of the company’s ashwagandha supplements meet that total individually unless you buy more than one bottle per order. If you have to pay shipping, here are the current rates:
Since our last review, Nootropics Depot has added a consistent return policy, which is excellent. It’s not the best return policy in the world — you can return any unopened product within 30 days, minus the cost of shipping both ways — but it’s leagues better than what the company offered previously, which was only a return option if there was a significant problem with your order.
Best budget pick
Xwerks is a relatively fitness-oriented company, but not all of its products are exclusively for those who hit the gym hard. Several, including the ashwagandha gummies, are suitable for anyone who’s just trying to feel better. And because the ashwagandha comes in a vegan gummy form (with a recognizable strawberry flavor), they’re easy for anyone to take. Xwerks Ashwa gummies provide 45mg of withanolides per dose from 1,500mg of ashwagandha, which is the highest dose on our list. However, this high dose isn’t necessarily what will end up in your body.
Making gummies requires heating the ingredients, which can break down some of the herbal ingredients’ efficacy. Additionally, gummies have to be broken down differently within the GI tract, leading to less circulating in your bloodstream overall. You’ll still likely get a worthwhile dose of ashwagandha from each serving, but what your body actually uptakes will vary.
The biggest downside to these gummies is the sugar content. The ingredients list includes glucose syrup, sugar, and glucose, adding 6g of sugar and carbohydrates to every two-gummy serving. That makes these less of an ideal choice for anyone on a Keto or low-sugar diet or those with diabetes.
One bottle of Xwerks Ashwa contains 60 gummies (30 servings or a one-month supply) and costs $19. If you choose to subscribe, the cost per bottle comes down to $18.05. This price has stayed stable over the past year.
Shipping from Xwerks is free if you purchase at least $75 of products. Otherwise, you’ll pay a $5 flat rate. You can return the product within 30 days of purchase for a full refund, no questions asked, which is a remarkably flexible return policy that lets you discover how you respond to this ashwagandha gummy before making the decision to return it.
Best high dose
Physician’s Choice uses KSM-66, one of the most popular forms of ashwagandha extract, in its capsules. Most of the KSM-66 supplements offer it in a 600mg dose, but Physician’s Choice uses a 1,000mg dose. That delivers nearly twice as many withanolides to your system daily. Unfortunately, it also means these capsules are a bit larger than some competitors. Our testers didn’t find them difficult to swallow; each capsule is still less than a half-inch long and is relatively narrow.
This formula also contains 15mg of black pepper extract (branded BioPerine). Black pepper extract is well-known to enhance bioavailability, making it easier for your body to use what’s in a supplement, so even more of those withanolides readily make their way into your system.
When we tried Physician’s Choice’s ashwagandha, we found that it gave us roughly the same effects as Nootropic Depot’s Shoden ashwagandha. This is impressive, considering it has significantly fewer withanolides; the inclusion of BioPerine here seemed to make a big difference in how our testers felt. If you’re on a tight budget and don’t care as much about taking two slightly larger capsules, this is a good alternative to our top pick.
Physician’s Choice also offers an organic ashwagandha supplement with a slightly higher dose (three capsules and 1,950mg of ashwagandha). Despite the fact it’s almost double the dose, we prefer the KSM-66 version because the withanolide content of the organic supplement is not standardized, so we can’t speak to its likely effectiveness or, ultimately, its quality.
A single bottle of Physician’s Choice KSM-66 costs $22.95 for a one-time purchase or $19.51 with a subscription. If you opt for the organic formula, it costs about $2 less, and you can get some extra savings ($2/bottle) by making a bulk purchase of three bottles at a time. You can also get it from Amazon and Walmart, but we recommend sticking with the company’s website to take advantage of the subscription program. All orders get free shipping, and you can easily return any products within 60 days if you aren’t satisfied, which is on the longer side for our top choices.
Best powder form
Moon Juice offers a wide variety of supplements for everything from hair health to cognition in Instagrammable containers. We looked specifically at its pure KSM-66 ashwagandha powder, but 12 other products on the company’s site contain ashwagandha within a proprietary blend. This makes it hard to figure out how much you’d get per serving, which is something we generally dislike. Still, if any of these other products interest you, there’s a chance they could be a nice fit for your needs.
Moon Juice’s ashwagandha products include:
The company previously offered three other adaptogenic caffeinated drink alternative powders — a Vanilla Mushroom coffee, Cosmic Matcha latte, and Cosmic Gold latte — but has removed them from the website since we last reviewed it. This is a little bit disappointing because, although it’s important to know how much ashwagandha you’re taking, ashwagandha tends to work best when taken first thing in the morning. These three drink options streamlined your decision while providing other botanical benefits.
Moon Juice describes the pure KSM-66 ashwagandha powder as having a “bitter, molasses-like flavor.” It’ll still work well in your coffee, and many anecdotally report that it doesn’t add any taste to a morning brew, particularly when you add a splash of milk.
Each quarter-teaspoon serving provides 600mg of organic KSM-66 ashwagandha. Because it’s KSM-66, you’ll get fewer withanolides per serving than a Sensoril or Shoden ashwagandha, but you’ll still have an average of 30mg per serving if you follow directions. (Since it’s a powder, you can adjust the number of servings you take in much smaller increments than a capsule or gummy if 30mg isn’t enough for you. You’ll run out faster, but if you need, say, 35mg of withanolides to feel the effects, you won’t have to go searching for a different ashwagandha product with 700mg of KSM-66.)
One jar of Moon Juice ashwagandha powder costs $38, but you can subscribe and pay only $34.20/jar, or you can use Afterpay to split your purchase into four payments. Moon Juice offers a 45-day money-back guarantee, which has grown from a 30-day guarantee in the last year. Shipping is free for subscription programs and orders over $65 to the contiguous U.S. Otherwise, your shipping costs are based on how much the package weighs and where you’re located. We found that standard ground shipping for just one container of KSM-66 ashwagandha costs $6.95 no matter where you live, or you could pay $12.50 (to the East Coast) or $9 (to the West Coast) for express 3-day shipping.
Moon Juice also has a few ways to opt into little ways to improve the planet. You can pick between three charities — Compton Girls Club for youth empowerment, Surfrider Foundation for cleaner oceans, or Sustainable Harvest International to fund regenerative farming — at checkout, where Moon Juice will donate 1% of your order’s cost. And when you’re picking your shipping option, you can opt into using Route, which provides package protection and neutralizes the carbon footprint of your shipment, for $0.98. It’s a little detail, but, combined with their sustainable and organic sourcing, it helps those who want to help others.
Best blend and best money-back guarantee
Live Conscious has a slightly smaller offering of wellness products than some competitors, but that focus allows them to make what are generally very high-quality products. The company’s ZenWell ashwagandha supplement is ideal for those who want to improve their sleep quality. In addition to KSM-66 ashwagandha, ZenWell includes 200mg of Alphawave L-theanine. That’s on the lower side of the 200-400mg range used by researchers studying L-theanine’s effects on sleep, but it may have a greater impact because it’s paired with ashwagandha.
ZenWell also has 20mg of organic black pepper fruit extract, improving its bioavailability even beyond Physician’s Choice (though you’re getting 400mg less KSM-66 ashwagandha per serving). However, this supplement does contain milk, so it’s not suitable for vegans or those with lactose intolerance.
The big downside to ZenWell is cost. One bottle costs $24.99, which doesn’t seem like too much at first. But one bottle only contains 30 servings. Most other KSM-66 supplements in this price range offer 60 servings or more. However, you can save up to 40% by buying in bulk and setting up a subscription — a pretty massive discount that brings your price per serving down to the level of other competitors.
Here’s how your purchasing options for Live Conscious ZenWell break down:
Live Conscious gives you a 365-day money-back guarantee, which is six times longer than our second-best guarantee, though there are some caveats to it. You can return any unopened product for up to a year. Opened product returns are limited to two bottles from no more than one order each. So, if you purchased a 6-month supply of ZenWell and decided to stop taking it after two months, you’d have another ten months to set up your return and still get a full refund.
Transparent Labs lives up to the name: the company has a rigorous testing strategy and regularly updates a public online database with batch-specific third-party test results. This lets you compare the bottle in your hand to the results from its particular batch, ensuring purity, dose accuracy, and safety. This isn’t unique among supplements in general, but most high-quality supplement manufacturers will only tell you that testing happens; Transparent Labs is one of the only companies on our list that’s willing to show this information directly to you.
Transparent Labs uses KSM-66 ashwagandha in a 600mg dose. It’s a simple supplement with no bells or whistles, which may be ideal for some, though it does also contain rice flour and vegetarian magnesium stearate, so it’ll be slightly more likely to induce a stomach ache, among other potential side effects. Every bottle contains 60 capsules, which is average, but note that one capsule counts as a serving. (Most other ashwagandha supplements suggest taking two or three. Though they may provide 60 capsules, this means you’re only getting 20-30 servings compared to the 60 servings that Transparent Labs includes.)
One bottle costs $19.99. Transparent Labs has recently added this ashwagandha supplement to its list of products you can add to a subscription program, which means you can save 10% (dropping the price to $17.99) and get free shipping. This is a big deal; without a subscription, shipping costs vary depending on your location, but you wouldn’t qualify for free shipping without spending at least $149. Last year, you could get free shipping on orders over $100, so this 50% increase in the free shipping ceiling is disappointing. Because of this high threshold, you should know how shipping costs break down otherwise. This is how much delivery costs to an East Coast address:
The prices for USPS Priority Mail ($10.47), FedEx 2Day ($27.52), and FedEx Priority Overnight ($42.60) are slightly less expensive for a West Coast address, but not by much. Since a subscription order saves you 10% and gives you free shipping, and Transparent Labs won’t give you a hard time when you try to cancel your subscription, we strongly recommend joining this program.
As of February 2023, this ashwagandha supplement is sold out; evidently, the company is having problems keeping up with demand. We don’t anticipate them being out of stock forever, but you do have to wonder whether you’ll reliably be able to access the product in the future when you need to replenish your supply. Right now, it won’t be your best place to start if you want to try ashwagandha.
Youtheory’s ashwagandha is a blend of 600mg KSM-66 and 400mg of an organic ashwagandha root powder. This brings the total ashwagandha dose up to 1,000mg — pretty impressive for its $21.99 price point. But without a way to quantify the withanolide content in the root powder, it’s hard to say how this would compare to the similar doses from Xwerks and Physician’s Choice. Either way, a 600mg serving — at worst — is nothing to sneeze at. That puts it in line with our favorite picks and the average dose for KSM-66 in clinical studies.
It’s worth noting that Youtheory’s ashwagandha also contains 20mg of ginger root extract. Some studies suggest ginger can play a critical role in improving cognitive function, especially in the presence of cognitive disorders.²² That makes it a wise addition to an ashwagandha supplement or any nootropic blend. While ginger root is great for improving digestion and calming an upset stomach, research is much more mixed when it comes to its effects on your brain. There are a handful of studies that suggest it can lessen the damage caused by oxidative stress and improve memory dysfunction, but almost all of these studies take place in animal models.¹⁷ And while one study found that ginger improved anxiety better than prescription Valium, that study used 200mg/kg of ginger root extract — meaning you’d need about 13.6g of ginger root extract to feel that effect.¹⁸ Youtheory’s 20mg dose doesn’t come close.
While one bottle of Youtheory ashwagandha costs $21.99, you can subscribe and save 15%, bringing the costs per bottle down to $18.69. This overall price has gone up in the last year from $18.99 (a $3 increase), and the company also changed its shipping policy.
Previously, it operated solely with shipping costs based on your location, ranging anywhere from $3 to $50 depending on where you’re located within the U.S. and how quickly you want your ashwagandha. Now, you can get free shipping when you order at least $50 worth of products, and the unpredictable math has been replaced with a flat fee. The only problem is that the fee is $14.99! This is dramatically more expensive than most flat shipping fees we’ve seen, not only in the ashwagandha landscape but for supplements and online shipping in general. It’s certainly one way to encourage you to purchase higher quantities, but considering Youtheory doesn’t extend free shipping to subscription orders, either, this is definitely a downside.
You can return unopened products within 30 days of purchase, but there’s another shipping-related caveat here: it’s unclear whether or not you’d be reimbursed for the initial cost of shipping, and you’ll have to pay another $14.99 for return shipping. If you order just one bottle of KSM-66 ashwagandha, decide you don’t want it, and return it, there’s a good chance you’ll be charged more for shipping than you paid for the product itself.
To us, it doesn’t make sense to recommend this to anyone who isn’t prepared to buy and keep at least three bottles at a time.
Ashwagandha isn’t the best option for everybody. Whether you’re someone who already takes anti-anxiety medication or you’re waiting for a new kidney — or maybe you’re just not sure that ashwagandha is the right step for you — there are plenty of other options that might be more effective for you. We’ll go into detail on a few of the major players below.
In general, individual ingredients like melatonin, magnesium, and L-theanine that are combined with ashwagandha in blended supplements tend to work best for sleep and anxiety (with melatonin being one of the safest and most effective supplemental sleep inducers), and testosterone boosters like TestoPrime will combat low testosterone levels more directly than ashwagandha.
Since sleeplessness and stress are two major problems American adults face daily, there are dozens of supplements that advertise the ability to calm you down, improve your stress levels, and help you get to sleep (and stay asleep) quickly without side effects.
You might look first at a blended supplement designed for sleep or calming, such as HUM Nutrition’s Calm Sweet Calm (ashwagandha and L-theanine). There are also lots of nootropic supplement companies that make anxiolytic supplements, such as BrainMD’s Calm My Brain (which contains magnesium, ashwagandha, and L-theanine). However, many of these blends contain ashwagandha since it’s such a potent and generally well-researched botanical option.
If you’re hoping to stay away from ashwagandha altogether, we recommend looking at each individual ingredient in these blends to find a supplement that might work better for you. We’ve pulled the most common ingredients and broken down what they do and when they might be most effective below.
Melatonin is a hormone made by serotonin that regulates our circadian rhythm: levels build up over the course of a day and drift you off to sleep at night. (It’s also what causes jet lag.) Ashwagandha seems to exert some influence over melatonin production by helping the brain express more regulatory activity, but taking a melatonin supplement may be a more direct route of action if you just want help sleeping at night.¹⁹ Experts generally recommend taking 1-3mg of melatonin two hours before bed if you want to try this supplement.
Magnesium is an essential mineral we all need for things like energy production, biochemical regulation, and muscle and nerve function. Of all of the different forms of magnesium, magnesium glycinate is very bioavailable and generally considered the best for sleep problems and anxiety. However, it might not help you if you aren’t deficient in magnesium.
It won’t help you fall asleep immediately, but the sunshine vitamin is linked to your sleep cycle. Studies have shown that vitamin D deficiencies can contribute to longer time spent awake and lower-quality sleep, and some suggest that vitamin D supplementation can improve your sleep by resolving the deficiency. Considering vitamin D deficiencies are extremely common (particularly among office workers, those who live above the 45th parallel, people who have dark skin, and the elderly), a vitamin D supplement could improve your sleep. Vitamin D supplements are also typically very inexpensive and may be a good option if you’re on a tight budget.
Also known as the chemical in tea that cuts down on your propensity to jitters and jumpiness from caffeine, L-theanine is an amino acid that researchers think can create calm by blocking glutamate in the brain, which increases serotonin, dopamine, and GABA levels. You can get L-theanine as a supplement in capsule form, but you can just as easily drink a few cups of tea over a day to get the same effect. Just be sure to avoid caffeinated forms in the afternoon or evening to ensure you aren’t accidentally making any sleep problems worse.
GABA is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in our brains, which prevents overactivation that can lead to anxiety, among other things. (It’s theorized that generalized anxiety disorder may be rooted in GABA mismanagement.) While it’s unclear at this time whether or not GABA supplements can pass through the blood-brain barrier and actually reach your brain with any degree of efficacy, GABA supplements are straightforward with fewer side effects than ashwagandha (though you shouldn’t take them if you take any kind of psychiatric medication). You can learn more by consulting our guide to GABA and the best GABA supplements.
You might know this herb from its presence in many sleep-promoting teas. Valerian root appears to act on the same pathways as a GABA supplement, promoting a sense of calm and relaxation. There are few reported side effects, and whole root extract seems to be the most effective in regulating sleep, so it’s a good option for people who are worried about contraindications with ashwagandha.²⁰ However, valerian root supplements aren’t particularly well-standardized; you’ll be better off with a blended supplement that contains a high dose of valerian root than valerian root on its own.
With increased popularity comes better research, and experts have been studying CBD’s anti-anxiety effects for years. There’s solid evidence that CBD can decrease anxiety and paranoia. There’s also some (though less consistent) evidence that it can help you drift off to sleep quickly. Some CBD products include ashwagandha (such as MedTerra’s Keep Calm CBD gummies, which have 125mg of Sensoril ashwagandha per serving), but you can also use plain CBD to improve sleep quality or anxiety symptoms. Since CBD doses for anxiety tend to be very high, CBD oil may be a great replacement, as it’s generally particularly concentrated, so you won’t have to drain an entire container in one sitting.
If you’re looking into ashwagandha for its testosterone-boosting properties, we’d first recommend that you take a testosterone test to determine whether or not you’re actually deficient. It won’t do you any good to take a testosterone-boosting supplement if your testosterone is already in a normal range. (We can point you to the best at-home testosterone tests if you don’t want to wait weeks to see your provider.) You’ll also have access to more clinically efficient prescription medications and testosterone replacement therapies if you can confirm your levels.
If prescriptions aren’t your desired first course of action, there are lots of potential testosterone supplements out there, but surprisingly few are both safe and effective. Ingredients like zinc, boron, vitamin D, and D-aspartic acid (as well as ashwagandha) are commonly found among the best picks. Our favorite product at this time is TestoPrime, which has 668mg of ashwagandha per serving and a formula capable of being effective without breaking your budget. Roman’s testosterone support is also an excellent one-stop-shop; you can access things like testosterone tests, erectile dysfunction medications, and generic Zoloft, as well as hair loss, skincare, and mental health support within the same platform.
For more information, check out our guide to testosterone boosters, where we outline your best options in 2023.
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