Natural supplements are commonly used to promote overall health or alleviate specific conditions. CBD and ashwagandha are two natural supplements that have grown in popularity in recent years. While both products are intended to benefit health, they have significant differences in their effects and how they work. Let’s take a look at the difference between ashwagandha and CBD.
What is ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub native to Asia and Africa that is traditionally used as an adaptogen – a substance that helps the body adapt to stress. Its powders or extracts are also used by some people to alleviate anxiety or help with fertility.
What is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. It’s one of the many compounds in cannabis that produces therapeutic benefits. Unlike the more well-known cannabinoid THC, CBD does not have intoxicating effects, so people can use it without getting high.
The compound is associated with many health benefits, including pain reduction, reduced inflammation, anxiety relief, skin improvements, neurological benefits, cardiovascular benefits and relief from nausea.
How ashwagandha works
Researchers have found that ashwagandha helps reduce stress by reducing activity in the HPA axis – a part of the brain that regulates stress responses.
Studies have also shown that ashwagandha can influence GABAergic and serotonin activity, which can potentially provide antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects.
Some doctors believe that ashwagandha may suppress dopamine receptors in the brain, which can help relieve stress. The plant is also believed to help regulate cortisol levels, which plays a large role in the body’s stress response.
Ashwagandha may also relieve some pain by producing anti-inflammatory effects and blocking pain signals from reaching the brain.
While we need more definitive studies to clarify exactly how ashwagandha acts in the body, we know that some people find it works to manage their stress levels. Similarly, many people use CBD to alleviate stress and manage other symptoms.
How CBD works
While CBD may be used for similar reasons as ashwagandha (think anxiety, stress, and mood support), its functions are much different. CBD also has several more uses and benefits than ashwagandha, such as managing epilepsy, reducing PTSD symptoms, improving skin conditions, and even potentially treating opioid use disorder.
CBD produces all of these powerful effects by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system – a complex cell-signaling network that regulates various bodily processes from pain and mood to sleep, appetite, and much more. The endocannabinoid system’s primary function is to keep the body in balance, called homeostasis.
This system is composed of cannabinoid receptors throughout the brain and body. CBD is a cannabinoid that interacts with these receptors in a unique way, causing therapeutic effects without getting users high. Because the endocannabinoid system regulates so many different bodily processes, CBD can potentially improve a variety of conditions.
Is CBD or ashwagandha better?
When it comes to CBD vs. ashwagandha, there’s no concrete answer. Both are used by people to combat various conditions, though CBD has more proven uses than ashwagandha. Still, both CBD and ashwagandha need to be further researched before we can say definitively if they treat certain conditions. Despite the need for more research, we have plenty of preliminary scientific and anecdotal evidence pointing to the benefits of both substances.
For many, CBD is a better choice because it has a better safety profile than ashwagandha, which is only considered safe for consumption in the short term. Experts recommend only taking ashwagandha for up to three months, and it’s often advised to take several weeks off of the supplement before starting back up.
On the other hand, CBD is generally used for longer periods of time. Recurrent and high doses of up to 1500 mg of CBD per day have been shown to be well-tolerated by humans. Additionally, CBD products can be combined with other therapeutic cannabinoids, such as CBG, to support daily functions.
Final thoughts on ashwagandha vs. CBD
As with all natural supplements, users may need to do some trial and error before finding the right dose and product with CBD or ashwagandha. Some people may find that their body works better with CBD, while others may find ashwagandha provides more benefits for their needs.
Ultimately, we can’t say definitively whether CBD or ashwagandha is better, though CBD has a longer list of potential uses. The answer will come down to your own unique biology, medical history, and the advice you get from a medical professional (and we recommend everyone considering using CBD or ashwagandha speak to a healthcare professional first.)