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Shelf Life of Ashwagandha: Can it Expire?

by Jason | May 28, 2024

Ashwagandha has gained popularity over the last few years, largely due to its potential health benefits (such as stress reduction and improved energy levels). However, if you’ve had your ashwagandha in your cupboard for a while, taking it might actually be wasting your time. 

By and large, supplements don’t technically have expiration dates. In other words, you’re unlikely to get sick from it, but its potency will degrade over time. Meaning, taking it becomes akin to taking a placebo: you think it’s helping, but it actually has no effect. In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about ashwagandha’s shelf life, including how long it lasts, the best ways to store it, and signs that it might be past its prime. 

Understanding Ashwagandha and its Potency

Ashwagandha’s effectiveness hinges on its concentration of withanolides, the active compounds responsible for its health benefits. And while the age of your particular supplement can have an effect on this concentration, there are other factors involved, too:

Shelf Life of Different Forms of Ashwagandha

As we mentioned above, whether you’re taking ashwagandha as a capsule, powder, or liquid form, you’ll want to pay attention to lifespan and ideal storage conditions, as each one is somewhat different from the others. Understanding these differences can help you maximize the potency and effectiveness of your ashwagandha supplements.

Capsules and Tablets 

Ashwagandha capsules or tablets are perhaps the most convenient and popular form, and with proper storage, they can last a good while. Expect them to stay fresh and potent for about 2 years. 

To ensure they last as long as possible, store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, and make sure you close the container they come after each use. This will help prevent the ingredients from degrading. 

Powdered

Ashwagandha powder, while versatile, requires a bit more attention when it comes to storage. When kept in an airtight container in a cool, dark, and dry place, it can retain its potency for up to 2 years.

The key here is to minimize its exposure to moisture and air, which can cause the powder to clump and lose its effectiveness. To prevent this, make sure the container is tightly sealed after each use, and avoid storing it in humid environments (like bathrooms, or next to the stove).

Liquid Ashwagandha

Liquid forms of ashwagandha typically have a shorter shelf life. They are often more concentrated, and their potency can diminish rapidly, so proper storage is essential: keep it in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight to preserve its effectiveness. Following these guidelines, you can expect liquid ashwagandha to last for about 1 year. 

Signs That Ashwagandha May Have Lost Potency

So here’s the million-dollar question: how do you know if your ashwagandha is still effective? I mean, it’s not like most of us have labs where we can test the supplements. Fortunately, there are a few telltale signs that can help you determine if it’s time to replace your stash.

Changes in Color and Smell

One of the easiest ways to assess the freshness of ashwagandha powder is to observe its color and smell. Fresh ashwagandha powder typically has a light tan or yellowish color, almost like the sand on a beach. If you notice that it has turned a dull brown color or has developed dark spots, it could be a sign that it’s past its prime, and should be replaced.

Additionally, take a whiff. Fresh ashwagandha has a slightly earthy, root-like scent. If it smells musty or has lost its characteristic aroma, its potency might have diminished. And while you’re not likely to get sick from expired ashwagandha, you can simply be wasting your time by taking something that is no longer effective.

Effectiveness Over Time

Another way to gauge if your ashwagandha is still potent is by paying attention to its effects on your body. Ashwagandha is known for its ability to reduce stress, improve sleep, and boost energy levels. If you’ve been using it regularly and notice that these benefits are no longer as pronounced, it could indicate that the ashwagandha has lost some of its punch. 

You’re not a robot, and ashwagandha isn’t a computer program, so things will vary from time-to-time. However, a noticeable and prolonged decrease in effectiveness is a sign that it might be time to replace your ashwagandha with a fresh batch. So be aware of what’s going on, and if it feels like you’re suddenly wasting your time with it, you might be. Buy a new one.

Extend the Shelf Life

Want to get the most time out of your ashwagandha as possible? The secret lies in how you store it. By taking a few simple steps, you can create the ideal environment to preserve the freshness and effectiveness of your ashwagandha supplements.

Ideal Storage Conditions

Think of ashwagandha as a vampire: it hates sunlight. So, the best place to store it is in a cool, dark spot away from direct sunlight or heat sources. Ideally, keep it in a cupboard or pantry where the temperature hovers between 59-77°F/15-25°C  (an extra bonus if your cabinet is coffin-shaped—you know, because of the vampire thing). This consistent, moderate temperature will help slow down any degradation of the active compounds.

Using Airtight Containers

Air is another enemy of ashwagandha, as it can introduce moisture and accelerate oxidation. Glass jars with tight-fitting lids or food-grade plastic containers with secure seals work wonders. These containers will help keep air and moisture out, ensuring your ashwagandha stays fresh.

Also Read: Shilajit vs. Ashwagandha (Differences, Combining, Benefits)

Final Words

Ashwagandha offers numerous health benefits, but its potency can diminish over time. By understanding its shelf life and following the proper storage techniques, you can ensure that you’re getting the most out of your ashwagandha supplements. Choose reputable brands, store your ashwagandha correctly, and enjoy the long-lasting benefits of this ancient herb!

Jason