Beauty, Skincare

Can Ashwagandha Cause Acne? Dermatologists Say YES

Ashwagandha, a powerful adaptogenic herb celebrated in Ayurvedic medicine, has gained immense popularity in recent years for its numerous health benefits, including stress reduction, improved ...

by Kathy Brisbane

Can Ashwagandha Cause Acne? Dermatologists Say YES

Ashwagandha, a powerful adaptogenic herb celebrated in Ayurvedic medicine, has gained immense popularity in recent years for its numerous health benefits, including stress reduction, improved cognitive function, and enhanced physical endurance. However, as with many supplements, questions have arisen about its potential side effects, particularly its impact on skin health and acne development.

As acne continues to be a prevalent skin condition affecting millions worldwide, it’s crucial to understand the factors that contribute to its development and any potential triggers, including the supplements we consume. In this article, we delve into the relationship between ashwagandha and acne, separating fact from fiction and exploring insights from leading dermatologists.

Main Causes Of Acne

Main Causes Of Acne

Acne vulgaris, commonly known as acne, is a complex skin condition characterized by pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, and sometimes painful cysts. Though commonly linked with teenagers, acne can impact people of any age. Various factors contribute to its development:

1. Hormonal Fluctuations: Androgens, particularly testosterone, play a significant role in acne development. During puberty and other hormonal shifts, increased androgen levels can stimulate excess oil (sebum) production in the sebaceous glands, leading to clogged pores and potential breakouts.

2. Bacterial Growth: The bacterium Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes), naturally present on the skin, can thrive in clogged pores and contribute to inflammation and breakouts.

3. Abnormal Skin Cell Turnover: An abnormal shedding of skin cells can contribute to pore blockage, further fueling acne development.

Ashwagandha And Hormonal Acne

Ashwagandha, an ancient herb used in Ayurvedic medicine, has been touted for its potential benefits in managing stress, anxiety, and hormonal imbalances. However, its impact on hormonal acne remains a topic of debate. Some experts suggest that ashwagandha may indirectly contribute to hormonal balance and potentially reduce acne symptoms by regulating cortisol levels, the body’s primary stress hormone.

By managing stress, ashwagandha may help alleviate acne symptoms caused by chronic stress, which can lead to increased cortisol production and inflammation. Additionally, ashwagandha’s anti-inflammatory properties may help reduce acne symptoms by addressing the underlying inflammation that contributes to acne development.

On the other hand, some experts argue that ashwagandha’s effects on hormones, particularly its impact on androgen levels, could potentially worsen acne symptoms in some individuals. Ashwagandha is known to influence hormone levels in the body, which can affect those suffering from hormonal acne.

As such, it’s essential to understand how ashwagandha affects hormones and whether this might contribute to causing acne breakouts. Furthermore, some individuals may experience an increase in androgen levels, which can stimulate the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum, leading to clogged pores and acne lesions.

The relationship between ashwagandha and hormonal acne is complex and multifaceted. While ashwagandha may have potential benefits in managing stress and hormonal imbalances, its impact on acne is not yet fully understood. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before using ashwagandha to treat acne, as individual results may vary and potential interactions with other medications or supplements should be considered.

Potential Benefits Of Ashwagandha For Skin Health

While research on ashwagandha’s direct impact on acne is ongoing, this adaptogenic herb may offer potential benefits for overall skin health:

  • Reduces Acne and Pimples: Ashwagandha’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties can help reduce acne and pimples by calming the skin and fighting acne-causing bacteria.
  • Fights Signs of Aging: Ashwagandha promotes collagen production, essential for maintaining skin elasticity and reducing wrinkles, helping combat signs of aging.
  • Soothes Dry Skin: Ashwagandha can help soothe dry skin, providing hydration and relief from tightness and itchiness.
  • Anti-inflammatory: Ashwagandha’s anti-inflammatory properties help reduce chronic inflammation, promoting skin health and reducing skin stress.
  • Reduces Oil Secretion: Ashwagandha naturally inhibits oil production, making it beneficial for oily skin and reducing skin problems.
  • Anti-aging: Ashwagandha’s antioxidant content helps combat skin aging, reducing wrinkles, fine lines, blemishes, and dark spots for firmer, youthful-looking skin.
  • Supports Healthy Skin: Ashwagandha’s adaptogenic properties and ability to reduce stress and anxiety can indirectly benefit skin health by promoting overall well-being.

Non-Skin Benefits of Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha, an ancient herb, has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries to promote overall health and well-being. While it is known for its benefits for skin health, it also offers numerous non-skin benefits. Here are some of the most significant advantages of Ashwagandha:

Stress Relief and Anxiety: Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, which means it helps the body adapt to stress and anxiety. It has been shown to reduce cortisol levels, promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety.

Cognitive Function and Memory: Ashwagandha has been found to improve cognitive function, memory, and concentration. It may also help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Cardiovascular Health: Ashwagandha may help lower blood pressure, improve blood lipid profiles, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Anti-Cancer Properties: Research suggests that Ashwagandha may have anti-cancer properties, although more studies are needed to confirm its effectiveness.

Muscle Recovery and Athletic Performance: Ashwagandha has been shown to improve muscle recovery after exercise, reduce muscle damage, and enhance athletic performance.

Immune System Support: Ashwagandha may help boost the immune system, reducing the risk of illnesses and infections.

Hormone Regulation: Ashwagandha may help regulate hormone levels, including testosterone, cortisol, and thyroid hormones.

Sleep Quality: Ashwagandha has been found to improve sleep quality, reducing insomnia and promoting relaxation.

Digestive Health: Ashwagandha may help soothe digestive issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and reduce inflammation in the gut.

Neuroprotective Effects: Ashwagandha may have neuroprotective effects, potentially reducing the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Overall Health and Well-being: Ashwagandha is considered a general tonic in Ayurvedic medicine, promoting overall health and well-being by balancing the body’s energy and reducing stress.

Can Ashwagandha Cause Skin Problems?

Yes, Ashwagandha, an ancient medicinal herb commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine, can potentially cause skin problems in some individuals. Here are a few skin-related side effects that have been reported with the consumption of Ashwagandha:

  • Allergic reactions: Some people may develop allergic reactions to Ashwagandha, manifesting as skin rashes, hives, or itching. These reactions are likely due to the individual’s sensitivity to certain compounds present in the herb.
  • Acne or skin irritation: Ashwagandha is believed to have hormone-modulating properties, which can potentially affect hormone levels in the body. This hormonal imbalance may trigger or worsen acne or other skin irritations in some individuals, especially those with pre-existing hormonal imbalances or conditions like PCOS.
  • Photosensitivity: There have been reports of increased sensitivity to sunlight or photosensitivity in individuals taking Ashwagandha supplements. This can lead to sunburns, rashes, or other skin issues upon exposure to sunlight or UV radiation.
  • Gastrointestinal issues: While not directly related to the skin, some people may experience digestive problems like diarrhea or nausea when taking Ashwagandha, which can indirectly contribute to skin issues or rashes due to nutrient deficiencies or other factors.

It’s important to note that these skin-related side effects are relatively uncommon and may vary depending on the individual’s sensitivity, dosage, and duration of use. If you experience any adverse skin reactions after taking Ashwagandha, it’s advisable to discontinue use and consult with a healthcare professional.

The Potential Acne-causing Factors Of Ashwagandha

  • Hormonal Imbalances: Ashwagandha is known to influence hormone levels in the body, particularly testosterone levels. High testosterone levels can lead to increased oil production, clogged pores, and acne breakouts, especially in individuals prone to hormonal acne.
  • Thyroid Hormones: Ashwagandha may affect thyroid hormones, which can indirectly contribute to hormonal changes and potentially trigger acne.
  • Powder Form: When using ashwagandha powder, it’s essential to keep the skin clean to prevent clogging of pores, which can lead to acne breakouts.

The Main Side Effects Of Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha, an ancient Indian herb, has gained popularity in recent years due to its potential health benefits. However, like any supplement, it may cause side effects in some individuals. Here are the main side effects of ashwagandha:

  • Gastrointestinal upset: Diarrhea, loose bowel movements, nausea, and stomach upset are common side effects of ashwagandha.
  • Headache: Some people may experience headaches after taking ashwagandha.
  • Sedation: Ashwagandha may cause drowsiness or sedation, especially when taken in high doses.
  • Liver problems: Rarely, ashwagandha may cause liver problems, including jaundice and itchy skin.
  • Thyroid issues: Ashwagandha may increase thyroid hormone production, which can be problematic for individuals with thyroid conditions.
  • Blood sugar fluctuations: Ashwagandha may lower blood sugar levels, which can be a concern for people with diabetes.
  • Interactions with medications: Ashwagandha may interact with certain medications, such as thyroid hormone pills, diabetes medications, and sedatives.

Important Notes

  • Ashwagandha is generally considered safe for most people when taken in recommended doses (300-500 mg per day).
  • However, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before taking ashwagandha, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions or take medications.
  • The quality of ashwagandha supplements can vary, so it’s crucial to choose a reputable brand that has been tested and verified by a third-party organization.
  • Ashwagandha may not be suitable for everyone, particularly pregnant women, breastfeeding individuals, and those with certain medical conditions.

How To Manage Acne At Home?

While the relationship between ashwagandha and acne remains a topic of ongoing research, dermatologists emphasize the importance of a comprehensive approach to acne management. In addition to traditional acne treatments, they recommend incorporating the following strategies:

1. Diet and Lifestyle Modifications: Consider modifying your diet and lifestyle factors that may contribute to acne, such as high-sugar and high-dairy foods, stress management, and adequate sleep.

2. Alternative Therapies: Explore alternative therapies like light therapy, chemical peels, or micro-needling under the guidance of a qualified dermatologist.

3. Stress Management: Incorporate stress-reducing practices like yoga, meditation, or exercise, as stress can exacerbate acne.

4. Consistency: Remain consistent with your acne treatment routine and follow your dermatologist’s recommendations for optimal results.

The Final Word

While ashwagandha’s impact on acne needs further exploration, it is unlikely to be a universal acne trigger. For effective acne management, a comprehensive approach involving dermatologist-recommended treatments, along with healthy lifestyle habits, remains the gold standard.

Remember, this article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional before starting any new supplements or making significant changes to your skincare routine, especially if you have a history of acne or other skin concerns.

By understanding the potential benefits and risks of ashwagandha, as well as the multifaceted nature of acne, you can make informed decisions to support your skin health and overall well-being.


  • Kathy Brisbane

    Kathy Brisbane is a highly respected and experienced dermatologist with over three decades of expertise. After graduating with honors, she completed her residency and established herself as a leader in the field. Known for her compassionate approach and diagnostic abilities, Dr. Brisbane has authored numerous publications and lectures at conferences. Committed to staying at the forefront of advancements, she provides exceptional skin care and is widely regarded as one of the most trusted dermatologists.

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