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Ashwagandha for Kids: Benefits, Safety, and More

by Jason | June 10, 2024

Ashwagandha has been a trusted herb for centuries, known for helping adults manage stress, gain natural energy, and promote overall well-being.

Lately, parents are wondering if this ancient remedy could be beneficial for their little ones too.

In this article, we’ll break down the basics of ashwagandha, explore how it might help your child, and, most importantly, explain how to use it safely.

Ashwagandha for Kids

Understanding Ashwagandha and Its Benefits for Kids

In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha is known for its ability to balance the body and mind. While research specifically exploring its effects in pediatric populations is still emerging, early studies suggest several potential benefits:

Immune System Support: Ashwagandha is rich in antioxidants which help protect cells from damage and inflammation. Preliminary research indicates it may help strengthen immune function and reduce susceptibility to common childhood illnesses like colds and flu.

Growth and Development: Some evidence points to ashwagandha providing nutritional support for healthy growth and development in children. This could be advantageous for picky eaters or those requiring additional nutritional supplementation.

Focus and Concentration: The adaptogenic properties of ashwagandha may help children better cope with stress and improve focus/concentration on tasks like schoolwork. While studies on the herb’s benefits for children in this area are limited, anecdotal reports from adults note perceived increases in attention span.

Anxiety and Stress Relief: Ashwagandha has been studied for its ability to promote calmness and reduce anxiety in adults. Early trials suggest it may provide similar benefits for managing stress, anxiety and overwhelm in children.

Sleep Quality: Certain compounds in ashwagandha may help regulate sleep cycles and improve sleep quality in children, potentially enhancing mood, energy levels and overall wellbeing.

While these potential benefits are promising, it’s crucial to understand that research on ashwagandha’s effects in children and adolescents is still quite limited. More rigorous studies are needed on appropriate dosing and long-term safety for kids before making recommendations.

Is Ashwagandha Safe for Kids?

Safety is the first question on any parent’s mind when considering a new supplement for their child. Here’s what the latest research suggests regarding the safety and efficacy of ashwaganda for kids and teens: 

Generally Considered Safe:

  • Short-Term Use: According to peer-reviewed studies, ashwagandha is likely safe for most children when taken in appropriate doses and for short periods (typically up to three months).
  • Natural Origin: As a natural herb, ashwagandha is often viewed as a gentler alternative to some conventional medications.
  • Minimal Side Effects:  More research is still needed to fully establish the safety profile of ashwagandha supplementation, especially long-term use, in children and adolescents. In adults, common side effects might include things like an upset tummy or slight drowsiness.

Important Considerations and Precautions:

  • Age Matters: While ashwagandha is generally safe for older children, its use in very young children (under 5 years old) hasn’t been studied extensively. It’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid it for toddlers and infants unless specifically recommended by a doctor.
  • Dosage is Key: The appropriate dose of ashwagandha varies depending on your child’s age, weight, and the specific reason for using it. Always follow the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional to determine the right dose for your child.
  • Consult Your Pediatrician: Before starting your child on any new supplement, it’s essential to talk to your pediatrician. They can assess your child’s individual health needs, potential risks, and any possible interactions with medications your child might be taking.

Open Communication is Key:

  • Share Information: Be open and honest with your pediatrician about any other supplements or medications your child is taking. This helps them make informed decisions about ashwagandha’s suitability for your child.
  • Monitor for Changes: Pay close attention to how your child reacts to ashwagandha. If you notice any unusual symptoms or side effects, stop using it and contact your doctor immediately.

When in Doubt, Ask:

If you’re unsure about anything related to ashwagandha for your child, don’t hesitate to ask your pediatrician. They’re your best resource for ensuring your child’s safety and well-being. 

Finding the Right Dose of Ashwagandha for Your Child

Let’s address the important question of proper ashwagandha dosing for children. As with any supplement, there is no universal “one-size-fits-all” amount that is appropriate. The ideal dosage must be personalized to each individual child based on several key factors.

Finding the “Goldilocks” dose – not too much or too little, but the amount that is precisely calibrated for your child’s needs – is crucial for both safety and efficacy. Factors like your child’s age, weight, and the specific condition you hope to support with ashwagandha must be carefully evaluated.

Too low of a dose may fail to provide the desired therapeutic effects. But too high of a dose, especially in children, increases the risk of adverse side effects. The goal is to determine the “just right” amount that can deliver optimal benefits without unnecessary risks.

General Dosage Guidelines

The following table provides a starting point for ashwagandha dosages for kids, based on their age:

Age GroupSuggested Daily Dosage (mg)Notes
2-5 years old50-100 mgStart with the lowest dose and gradually increase if needed, under the guidance of your pediatrician.
6-12 years old100-200 mgMonitor your child’s response and adjust the dosage as needed.
13-18 years old200-500 mgTeens can generally tolerate higher doses, but it’s still important to start low and increase gradually.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all dosage, here’s a general starting point based on your child’s weight:

  • Under 50 lbs: Start with 100-200 mg per day, divided into two doses.
  • 50-100 lbs: Start with 200-300 mg per day, divided into two doses.
  • Over 100 lbs: Start with 300-500 mg per day, divided into two doses.

Remember, these are just starting points. Your pediatrician can provide more personalized guidance based on your child’s specific needs.

The “Start Low and Go Slow” Approach:

It’s always best to start with the lowest recommended dose and gradually titrate up as needed. This allows you to monitor how your child responds and adjust the dosage accordingly.

Here’s why starting low and going slow is important:

  • Individual Differences: Every child is unique, and their response to ashwagandha may differ. Starting with a low dose helps minimize the risk of any unwanted side effects.
  • Gradual Adjustment: By slowly increasing the dose, you can find the optimal amount that provides the desired benefits without causing any discomfort.

How to Give Ashwagandha to Your Child

Now that we’ve covered safety considerations and optimal dosing, let’s discuss the practical side—how to actually get your child to take ashwagandha. Let’s face it, most kids aren’t eager to consume bitter herbal preparations. Fortunately, there are plenty of palatable, kid-friendly ashwagandha products available to help make supplementation a smoother experience.

The Ashwagandha Supplement Spectrum:

  1. Gummies: A favorite for kids (and adults), ashwagandha gummies are chewable, come in appealing flavors, and have a familiar candy-like texture; just be mindful of proper storage away from younger children.
  2. Chewables: Similar in concept to gummies, chewable tablets can make taking ashwagandha feel like a fun treat with their appealing shapes, flavors, and colors.
  3. Powders: For kids who enjoy smoothies or yogurt parfaits, ashwagandha powder can be an easy addition, easily blending into their favorite foods and drinks.
  4. Capsules: For older children able to swallow pills, capsules provide a no-fuss ashwagandha delivery method when dosed properly for their age and size.
  5. Liquid Extracts: These concentrated tincture forms allow very small volumes to achieve a full dose. They can be mixed into juice or a spoonful of honey to improve palatability.

The key is finding the right option that combines ease of use with your child’s flavor and texture preferences for best compliance. 

Timing is Everything:

When it comes to giving ashwagandha to kids, timing can be key. Some parents find a morning dose helps with focus and energy throughout the day. Others prefer giving it in the evening to promote relaxation and better sleep.

There’s no right or wrong answer here–it all depends on your child’s individual needs and schedule. Experiment to see what works best for your family.

Pro-Tip: If your child is hesitant to try ashwagandha, start with a small dose in a form they’re likely to enjoy, like gummies or a flavored powder mixed into a smoothie. You can gradually increase the dose as they get used to the taste and effects.

Monitoring Your Child’s Response:

As apranet, you know your child’s behavior better than anyone. Look for clues about how ashwagandha is affecting your child. Here’s what to watch for:

  • Sleep: Are they falling asleep easier? Sleeping through the night? Waking up refreshed?
  • Mood: Do they seem calmer? Less anxious? More content overall?
  • Focus: Are they able to concentrate better? Can they remember things more easily?
  • Energy: Do they have more energy throughout the day? Fewer energy crashes?
  • Overall Well-being: Are there any other positive changes you’ve noticed?

Pro Tip: It’s helpful to keep a journal to track your child’s progress. This can help you see patterns and make informed decisions about adjusting the dosage if needed.

Adjusting the Dosage:

If you’re not seeing the desired results after a few weeks, talk to your pediatrician about increasing the dose slightly. Remember, go slow! Increase the dose gradually and continue to monitor your child’s response.

If you notice any negative side effects, like upset stomach or drowsiness, reduce the dose or stop using ashwagandha altogether. Again, your pediatrician is your best resource for guidance.

Remember: Ashwagandha isn’t a quick fix. It may take a few weeks or even months to see significant changes. Patience and consistent use are key.

How to Make Ashwagandha a Part of Your Child’s Daily Life

Let’s face it, getting kids to take anything new can be a challenge. But with a little creativity, you can make ashwagandha a regular part of your child’s routine without a fuss.

Sneaky and Delicious Ways to Sneak It In:

  1. Blend ashwagandha powder into a yummy smoothie packed with fruits, veggies, and yogurt. It’s practically undetectable!
  2. Stir a spoonful of ashwagandha powder into yogurt and top it with berries, granola, or a drizzle of honey.
  3. Mix ashwagandha powder into your child’s morning oatmeal.
  4. Warm milk (dairy or non-dairy) with a pinch of turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and a spoonful of ashwagandha powder.
  5. If your child enjoys baking, sneak ashwagandha powder into cookies, muffins, or even homemade energy bars.
  6. If all else fails, ashwagandha gummies are a tasty and convenient option.

Tips for Success:

  • Start slow: If your child is new to ashwagandha, start with a small amount and gradually increase the dose as they get used to it.
  • Be consistent: Make ashwagandha part of their daily routine, whether it’s with breakfast, a mid-day snack, or their bedtime ritual.
  • Make it fun: Get creative with recipes and let your child choose how they want to take their ashwagandha. The key is making it enjoyable for them.
  • Don’t give up: If your child is resistant at first, try different forms or flavors of ashwagandha. 
  • Talk to your pediatrician: If you’re having trouble getting your child to take ashwagandha, your pediatrician can offer suggestions and support.

Remember: Consistency is key when it comes to seeing results with ashwagandha. By incorporating it into your child’s routine in a way that they enjoy, you’re more likely to stick with it.

Potential Side Effects and What to Watch

While ashwagandha is generally well-tolerated by children, it’s important to be aware of any potential side effects. Remember, every kiddo is different, and what might be a mild blip for one child could be a bigger deal for another.

Common (but Usually Mild) Side Effects:

  • Upset Stomach: Some kids might experience a bit of tummy trouble, like nausea or diarrhea. This usually goes away on its own, but if it persists, talk to your doctor.
  • Drowsiness: Ashwagandha can have a calming effect, which is great for sleep, but it might make some kids a bit sleepy during the day. If this happens, try giving it in the evening instead of the morning.
  • Headache: Headaches are a less common side effect, but they can happen. If your child gets headaches after taking ashwagandha, stop using it and talk to your doctor.
  • Skin Rash: In rare cases, ashwagandha can cause a mild skin rash. If this happens, stop using it and consult your doctor.

What to Do if Side Effects Occur:

  • Don’t Panic: Most side effects are mild and go away on their own.
  • Reduce the Dose: If the side effect is bothersome, try lowering the dosage to see if it helps.
  • Talk to Your Doctor: If the side effect is severe or doesn’t go away, consult your child’s doctor for advice.

When to Stop Using Ashwagandha:

  • Severe Side Effects: If your child experiences any severe side effects, like vomiting, difficulty breathing, or allergic reactions, stop using ashwagandha immediately and seek medical attention.
  • Underlying Conditions: If your child has an underlying medical condition, such as thyroid problems, autoimmune diseases, or diabetes, talk to their doctor before starting or stopping ashwagandha.

How to Safely Stop Using Ashwagandha:

  • Gradual Reduction: Don’t stop abruptly. Gradually reduce the dose over a week or two to avoid any withdrawal symptoms.
  • Consult Your Doctor: If your child is taking ashwagandha for a specific condition, like anxiety or sleep problems, talk to their doctor about how to safely taper off the supplement.

Remember, open communication with your pediatrician is key. They can help you monitor your child’s response to ashwagandha and make any necessary adjustments to ensure their safety and well-being.

The Bottom Line on Ashwagandha for Kids

Let’s recap what we’ve learned about ashwagandha and your child:

  • Potential Benefits: This ancient herb may offer a natural way to support your child’s immune system, growth, focus, and even help with stress or sleep issues.
  • Safety First: While generally safe, it’s crucial to talk to your pediatrician before giving ashwagandha to your child, especially if they have any underlying health conditions or are taking medications.
  • Start Low, Go Slow: Begin with a low dose and gradually increase it as needed, under your doctor’s guidance.
  • Monitor Closely: Pay attention to how your child responds to ashwagandha and keep an open dialogue with your doctor.

Ashwagandha isn’t a magic cure-all, but it might just be that extra bit of support your child needs to thrive. With careful consideration, open communication with your pediatrician, and a sprinkle of patience, you can make an informed decision about whether this natural remedy is right for your child.

Remember: Your child’s health is a team effort. Partner with your pediatrician to make the best choices for your family.