People with persistent arthritis pain often find it difficult to get relief. The usual nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as diclofenac, ibuprofen, meloxicam or naproxen cause side effects with long-term use. Some people cannot take them because they are sensitive to the digestive tract damage they cause. Other people must avoid them due to the threat of hearing loss or kidney disease. What else could you do to manage your severe arthritis pain? One reader found that Ashwagandha was surprisingly useful.

Limited Options for Relieving Arthritis Pain:

Q. I have severe osteoarthritis in my knees. I cannot take ibuprofen due to having a lap band procedure. Tylenol is ineffective for my knee pain.

The arthritis is quite debilitating and painful, and over time my flexibility and mobility have drastically declined. I lost quite a few pounds after the bariatric surgery, but I am still overweight. That aggravates the pain in my knees.

I have tried various remedies without much success. Recently I read of a study showing that Ashwagandha might help. I ordered one of the brands tested and approved by

On the second day of taking Ashwagandha once a day (500 mg Withania somnifera extract standardized to contain 2.5% withanolides), I awakened to find the pain had decreased dramatically. I’ve been taking it now for a week, and the pain is almost completely gone. There is still some stiffness.

I’ve never had anything make such a difference so fast. What should I know about cautionary information-drug interactions, side effects, etc.?

What Is Ashwagandha?

A. Ashwagandha has been part of the traditional Indian medical system for centuries. Modern science has found that this herb (Withania somnifera) has the ability to suppress many inflammatory compounds that could be contributing to arthritis pain (Dar et al, Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, Dec. 2015).

There does not appear to be a lot of research on side effects and interactions, but Ashwagandha may affect thyroid function (Gannon et al, Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, Oct-Dec. 2014).

It also might interact with MAO inhibitors such as selegiline, phenelzine or tranylcypromine. It should not be taken with such drugs, as it might reduce their effect (Bhattacharya et al, Phytomedicine, Dec. 2000).

You can learn more about Ashwagandha and other ways to manage joint pain in our newly expanded Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis. This information is provided as an online resource, as it is too long (50+ pages) to print and mail. When you buy it, you will be emailed a link just for you that allows you to consult it whenever you wish, as many times as you like.

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  1. Wendy
    South Carolina

    I am 63 and recently developed arthritis in my feet and ankles, and am waiting for tests to confirm suspected hypo-thyroid. I began taking Ashwagandha and Golden Seal, each as directed with meals. After a week I developed a severe gastro-intestinal distress with terrible constipation, and wonder if anyone else has had this reaction to either herb?

  2. Shiley
    Columbia, SC

    Should you take Ashwagandha or Holy Basil if diagnosed with arthritis in the foot and suspect hypothyroidism. Currently not on any medication.

  3. Peggy

    I am very thankful for all the information that you send to me. I myself use vinegar and honey mixed with water for my arthritis. I use the golden raisins and gin for my bursitis. All this helps very much. Wonders of Wonders, today I burnt myself on my ring finger and grabbed the soy sauce, as it was closest. It worked faster than the vinegar, of which I am a very avid user thank you again, People’s Pharmacy. Oh yes, don’t forget beet juice mixed with celery juice for blood pressure. I am 76 and doing quite well. Thank you, People’s Pharmacy.

  4. Kanti S

    I am taking Ashvagandha for more than six months. No difference in artheritis
    pain. It helps with energy and sleep.Ginger and turmeric helps with artheritis
    pain. When you are in your seventies aging process attacks faster then the
    relief you get from suppliments.

  5. Walt

    Joe: Re: Ashwagandha. Can you tell me whether or not it is a Cox-inhibitor? I prefer phenylbutazone (“Bute”) for horses in joint pain, but it affects both Cox-1 and Cox-2, and we don’t want Cox-1 to be affected when we’re dealing with pain. If Ash ignores Cox-1, it might be an acceptable pain-killer for horses, who suffer from arthritis just as severely as do we humans.

  6. genie deutsch

    Ashwagandha caused severe diarrhea and upset stomach when I took it. That is listed as a possible side effect for a large dose. the capsule I took was 350 mg which is not listed as a large dose. I may try taking half a capsule.

  7. Joan

    I discovered your emails by accident on my computer and now look forward to them. What a good source of information. Have shared your address with my daughter in law as well. We both are always looking to keep healthy.

  8. Margaret
    Sedona AZ

    I tried Ashwagandha for arthritis and just could not tolerate it. It made me extremely nauseous. I tried it a second time, and the same thing happened. Had to throw it out.

  9. Jan

    Good issue, especially regarding the TIMING of medication. You in the US seem to take far more that we do in Europe. But still, timing is crucial on levothyroxine especially. Here in France, the doctors will NOT prescribe a generic: ‘it is against the patients best interests’.

    On the issue of arthritis and pain relief, I’ve done the research and am now about to buy an infrared sauna – one that looks like a telephone box.

  10. Judy

    I just looked up ashwagandha on Amazon. The product I looked at had a list of benefits and one of them is improved thyroid function. I already take Armour thyroid, so would taking this herb interfere, or give me too much thyroid?

    • Terry Graedon

      It might result in excess thyroid hormone, so it would be better for you not to take it.

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