Ayurveda — a traditional medical practice — has used ashwagandha for its healing benefits for thousands of years. Ayurvedics used it to improve fertility, reduce stress, and increase energy levels.
Now that ashwagandha has become mainstream, some people are experimenting with new ways of consuming it. Case in point: adding Ashwagandha to alcoholic drinks. Some people claim that mixing the two makes them more relaxed, less inhibited, and super sociable — something we’d certainly be open to at our next party.
But are these anecdotes really based on the evidence? And besides, is it even safe to mix ashwagandha with alcohol?
To get the answers to these questions — and everything else you need to know about ashwagandha — keep reading this guide from Sunwink.
What Is Ashwagandha?
Let’s get real: Modern life is seriously bad for our health. Between being overworked, sleep-deprived, and exposed to environmental toxins, it’s no wonder we consistently struggle to feel our best.
Ayurvedic Medicine is an alternative medicine system that reaches back to ancient India. For thousands of years, ayurvedic medicine has focused on the balance between the mind, body, spirit, and the environment by combining diet, yoga, meditation, herbs, and massage therapy. It’s these herbal remedies or adaptogenic herbs that we’re looking into today.
Some people believe that these adaptogens or plants can help produce a calming effect on the body. Ashwagandha is one such adaptogen. Also known as Withania somnifera, ashwagandha is considered a superfood that some people believe can help support the body and maintain feelings of relaxation. Researchers are looking into how ashwagandha could help benefit a person overall.
How Does Ashwagandha Work?
Ashwagandha is a plant, which means that it contains tons of different compounds. Researchers still don’t fully understand ashwagandha and its potential health benefits. There are several ways ashwagandha has been used in traditional medicine.
Here’s an overview of some of the ways ashwagandha has been used as part of traditional medicine:
- Helps support feelings of calm: Our body secretes stress hormones like cortisol when we’re stressed (whether physically, emotionally, or even from environmental sources, like radiation). It may take some people more time than others to “calm down.” Some people believe ashwagandha can help potentially support feelings of calm.
- Support a healthy metabolism: When someone’s blood sugar levels are always high, their cells might become resistant to it. As a result, they may not use sugar (an energy source) effectively, leading to many problems. Some people believe ashwagandha helps support a healthy metabolism by working to maintain proper blood sugar levels. Some studies are being done to understand how ashwagandha works in the body.
- Supports male and female sexual health: Amongst the various negative health effects of stress, sexual problems are often included. One reason for this is an excess production of free radicals, which are harmful molecules that can damage male sperm. Antioxidants like ashwagandha look for free radicals and can help neutralize them.
- Supportsmentalclarity: Brain fog is a serious issue that can be brought on by anything from stress to an unhealthy diet. Some believe that ashwagandha’s high antioxidant content can help maintain cognitive function.
- Supports a positive mood: While more research is needed, some studies found that ashwagandha can support healthy levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA, a neurotransmitter. Some people believe taking ashwagandha may help maintain emotional wellness.
Can You Mix Alcohol With Ashwagandha?
It’s generally not recommended to mix ashwagandha with alcohol. To understand why these two shouldn’t mix, let’s dig deeper into how alcohol works in the brain.
How Alcohol Works
Essentially, alcohol is a molecule that affects different brain chemicals. One such chemical is gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Its effects can inhibit (or block) certain activity in the brain. As such, GABA can produce feelings of calm.
Well, alcohol isn’t exactly the same as GABA. However, they have a very similar structure, which means that your brain may not be able to tell the difference between the two, because they may act in similar ways. Some people believe alcohol can produce essentially the same effects as GABA.
Alcohol works in other ways, too. For instance, alcohol can block one excitatory chemical called glutamate. This chemical is known for “exciting” different parts of the brain. By potentially blocking glutamate, alcohol can slow down brain activity. This is one of the reasons your reaction time can get slashed when you drink alcohol.
Finally, alcohol can release lots of dopamine. This chemical is largely responsible for our brain’s reward system, which is probably why so many things seem like good ideas when drunk — but not so much when sober. This huge dopamine release is also a potential reason why alcohol can become addictive.
Compounding the Effects of Alcohol and Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is sometimes considered an adaptogen. To earn its place in this category, it can’t produce any serious side effects or cause dangerous interactions with other substances. Still, ashwagandha can interact with certain medications, so before using this herb, you may want to speak with your healthcare provider to get the all-clear.
That said, ashwagandha might have similar effects on the brain as alcohol. As mentioned above, some researchers think that it might increase GABA levels in the brain. This may lead an alcohol-ashwagandha cocktail to seriously inhibit your brain’s activity.
The (potential) result? Extreme drowsiness, inhibition, confusion, and a possible slew of other undesirable health effects.
That said, there aren’t any studies looking at the interaction between ashwagandha and alcohol yet. As such, it’s hard to say whether this combination is bad or not. In some cases, the effects may depend on the individual.
For instance, some people can mix alcohol with ashwagandha and feel calm and relaxed. Others may feel too calm, to the point of getting drowsy.
As always, if you’re supplementing with ashwagandha, it’s best to check with your doctor before adding alcohol to the mix. From current research, mixing the two shouldn’t be dangerous. But when it comes to what you put in your body, exercise an extra degree of caution is never a bad idea.
Can Ashwagandha Offset the Negative Effects of Alcohol?
While it’s generally not recommended to mix ashwagandha with alcohol, you can use the Ayurvedic plant to offset its negative effects.
We’re no strangers to what happens after a night of drinking. You may wake up with a headache, feel seriously thirsty, be unable to focus, and be exhausted. This is not surprising because, after all, alcohol is a major toxin. It takes a toll on your body, and depending on your metabolism and other bodily factors, it can take a while to detox.
Some people believe that if you plan to drink alcohol, you can potentially use ashwagandha to speed up your recovery.
Here are three ways some people believe ashwagandha can help offset the negative effects of alcohol:
1. Improve Mental Clarity
Over time, your brain accumulates “junk” protein inside and between brain cells. Too many of these proteins can create a block that makes it difficult to think, focus, and remember. While your body naturally clears out these proteins, consuming toxins — such as alcohol — can also interfere with this process.
Ashwagandha has a high antioxidant content, which could help support brain function. More studies are needed to determine ashwagandha's potential effects on overall brain support. Some people believe that ashwagandha helps support feelings of clarity even after an evening of social drinking.
2. Support Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
Depending on how much you drink, alcohol can cause your blood sugar levels to spike. This is especially true if you’re mixing alcohol with extra sweet mixers. As a result, you can wake up the next morning feeling dizzy, dehydrated, and ravenous.
Some people believe that ashwagandha could help support a healthy metabolism. Researchers think that a compound called withaferin A could prove useful in supporting the body. Still, more research is needed to determine if ashwagandha can help the cells to use sugar more effectively or not.
3. Assist With Alcohol Detox
Not everyone who drinks develops an alcohol dependence. However, it’s more common than we think. Something seemingly harmless like a daily wine habit can be classified as a dependence.
In our modern world, it’s not surprising why so many people depend on alcohol. But it still comes with many negative side effects, not to mention a lot of extra calories, a hefty dose of carbs, and added synthetic sugars, which is why some people may wish to stop drinking entirely.
Quitting alcohol isn’t easy. After stopping drinking, some people can experience a low mood and increased stress. Some people believe ashwagandha can help support feelings of calm and overall wellness.
For Optimal Health, It’s Best To Keep Drinking to a Minimum
We get the appeal of mixing a cocktail with ashwagandha to help cut its distinct flavor. But for optimal wellness, many people decide to cut out alcohol entirely.
We understand that alcohol addiction is dangerous. More than three million people die every year as a result of drinking too much alcohol. Not only does drinking too much increase someone’s chances of alcohol poisoning, but it can lead to a host of health conditions and potentially cause ill effects on the body over time.
Even moderate alcohol consumption can potentially be bad for your health. Alcohol can lower your inhibitions, leading to potentially harmful risk-taking. Some people don’t want to add a lot of extra carbs or sugar to their diet, but many alcoholic beverages contain large amounts of both. For some people, one night of social drinking isn’t worth the carbs and high sugar content.
We recommend cutting out alcohol (or keeping it only for special occasions) for optimal health. For interesting flavors without the alcohol, we have a few recipe ideas below.
Read on for some delicious ashwagandha cocktail ideas.
3 Delicious Ashwagandha Mocktails
1. Hibiscus Mint Unwind Tonic
Our Hibiscus Mint Sparkling Superfood tonic combines ashwagandha with refreshing mint and decadent hibiscus.
Mint is a popular superfood thanks to its potential soothing qualities. Plus, it can provide digestive system support, helping you feel good from the inside out.
Hibiscus gives our sparkling tonic its stunning hue. Plus, it’s chock-full of antioxidants to help maintain your bodily wellness.
Because it’s free of artificial sweeteners and contains a mere 35 calories in 12 fluid ounces, so you can help support your health. Since it's vegan-friendly, no one will need to feel left out.
To serve the drink, simply pour it over ice — but you can add your favorite garnishes for some extra flair and flavor if you’d like, or even a splash of your favorite fruit juice. A sprig of mint, a real hibiscus flower, or some muddled berries are great garnishes.
2. Cacao Clarity “Mudslide”
If you’re a fan of frozen chocolatey drinks, our Cacao Clarity Superfood Powder can help you get there — with all the potential health benefits and none of the alcohol.
A blend of adaptogens, which includes ashwagandha, lion’s mane, and reishi, may help promote feelings of energy and mental clarity. Meanwhile, raw cacao provides an extra boost of antioxidants (and a rich, decadent flavor).
To make the “mudslide,” combine one scoop of the powder with a cup of milk (your choice) and some ice. Blend the mixture until it takes on a smooth, creamy consistency. Pour it into a glass, serve, and enjoy! Add garnishes like cacao nibs, a scoop of coconut cream, or some shaved coconut on top to make it even more fun.
In general, it’s not recommended to mix ashwagandha with alcohol. If you plan to drink, save your use of ashwagandha for later use. Always speak with your healthcare provider before incorporating ashwagandha into your life.
But all in all, we recommend cutting down on alcohol to experience your optimal well-being.
To help support and maintain your bodily health, discover Sunwink’s delicious tonics and powders.