Ashwagandha and lexapro (An Overview)

In this blog, we are going to talk about possible interactions between ashwagandha and lexapro. This blog post will cover everything there is to know about these two drugs and if they are safe to use together. 

Is there any interaction between ashwagandha and lexapro? 

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Counseling is Key to a Healthy Marriage

There is no known interaction between ashwagandha and lexapro. However, experts suggest that ashwagandha can have sedative effects as it calms the racing mind and helps relieve the symptoms of anxiety. 

The concomitant use of ashwagandha and lexapro can cause increased drowsiness. It is best to ask for your doctor’s approval before using any medication or any other substance that possess medicinal properties, with your antidepressant. 

What are the medicinal properties of these two agents? 

Ashwagandha is a plant that’s used to make medicines. This medicinal plant is native to Africa and Asia, and is most commonly used by the Indian population. This plant is said to be an adaptogen, which can help you respond to daily life struggle, anxiety, stress and fatigue. 

Experts believe that the plant consists of some natural chemicals which can help calm your racing mind. It is most commonly used as a herbal treatment for stress and anxiety. It can also be used to relieve psychological symptoms associated with the process of aging. 

In some Indian practices, it is also used to treat insomnia. In some people it has also shown to reduce stress induced weight gain. One 2019 study suggested that ashwagandha may cause its effects by acting on hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands. 

Another study revealed more beneficial effects of ashwagandha. It concluded that this ayurvedic medicine can act as a neuroprotective agent and can help prevent dementia, especially in older adults. 

It also possesses antitumor properties and can help prevent cancers.

It can also be used to reduce pain, including pain associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. 

One detailed study revealed that ashwagandha can act like GABA to calm down your brain, reduce anxiety, and induce sleep. The same study also indicated that this ayurvedic herb possesses energy boosting properties. 

Despite having so many beneficial effects, it is not suitable to be used by certain kinds of people. Some people with underlying health conditions can not tolerate ashwagandha. These include:

  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Cardiac problems
  • Thyroid disorder
  • Pregnancy
  • Autoimmune diseases 

The reason behind the contraindication of this ayurvedic medicine and autoimmune diseases is its ability to boost immunity. 

People actually add small doses of ashwagandha in their daily life routine in order to enhance their immunity, which could cause serious problems in people with abnormal immune actions. 

It is also not recommended to be used in pregnancy. Its use in breastfeeding women requires further investigations. Lexapro (escitalopram), on the other hand, is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). 

These meds are used to treat the symptoms of depression and anxiety by blocking serotonin transporters (SERT), which results in increased serotonin activity in your body. 

It is usually okay to use these together, but it can still produce side effects as how your body reacts to the combination of medications also play a huge role in the kind of effects you go through. 

Make sure you ask your healthcare provider before using any medicinal agent with your antidepressant. Do not take other people as an example as every human body is different. If something worked out for someone, it doesn’t mean it will work out for you in the same way. 

Side effects of ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is normally considered safe, but its safety varies from person to person. Some people experienced no side effects within the course of 3 to 4 months of their treatment. However, some people can develop side effects. Common side effects of this ayurvedic medicine include:

  • Gastrointestinal side effects including nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. 
  • Liver damage
  • Headache

These side effects are usually experienced on higher doses. Usually ashwagandha is taken 1000 mg per day, for the course of 3 to 4 months.

Doses higher than that may interact with lexapro, or produce more pronounced effects. One study indicated that toxic effects of this herb were seen in doses equal to or higher than 1750 mg. 

Side effects of lexapro 

Common side effects of lexapro include:

  • Loss of appetite 
  • Constipation or diarrhoea
  • Sexual issues
  • Difficulty in falling asleep
  • Vertigo 
  • Decreased salivation or dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety 
  • Nausea
  • Shaking
  • Weakness
  • Sleepiness and fatigue
  • Weight gain

Lexapro can also produce serious side effects, which include:

  • Angle-closure glaucoma causes symptoms like eye pain, vision changes, or swelling or redness in your eyes.
  • It could cause low sodium levels which can result in psychological symptoms like confusion, agitation, inability to understand surroundings, memory loss etc.
  • It can cause elongation of QT interval, causing increased heartbeat or arrhythmia
  • Teeth grinding
  • It may also put you at an increased risk for dangerous bleeding, especially when taken with medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), warfarin (an anticoagulant medication), or other anticoagulants. 

Medications which should not be used with lexapro 

Make sure you don’t use lexapro with the following medications:

  • Monoaminoxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). The combination use can increase the risk of serotonin syndrome. 
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). The combination use can increase the risk of bleeding. 
  • Pimozide. The concomitant use can increase the plasma concentration(availability of a drug in the blood) of pimozide to much higher levels. It can result in life-threatening arrhythmia.
  • Controlled substances, including all narcotic 
  • Analgesics. The concomitant use can cause severe psychological side effects. 
  • Mood stabilisers 

Tips for proper use of lexapro 

In order to achieve the maximum therapeutic response from a drug, it is extremely important to use it right. Read the following points for the proper use of lexapro:

  • Make sure lexapro is the right choice of antidepressant for you. Stick to your doctor’s recommended dose. Do not take more or less than that. 
  • Ask your doctor before taking lexapro if you’re pregnant, trying to conceive or if you’re a breastfeeding mother. 
  • If you fail to understand how to use the drug properly or have any other question, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
  • In case of overdose, immediately reach out to the hospital. Make sure you properly guide them about how much drug you have taken and when. 
  • If you have missed a dose, take it as soon as you remember, but if a lot of time has passed and your next dose is near, do not take it. It’s better to skip the missed dose and take the next one.
  • Report any problems with bleeding or bruising to your doctor. If you see any unexplained blisters or rashes on your body, or experience any problems with urination, or if you feel changes in your vision, immediately report to your healthcare provider. 
  • Keep the bottle away from children and pets. In case of overdose, immediately take them to the hospital. 

Conclusion 

In this blog, we have talked about the possible interactions between ashwagandha and lexapro. Ashwagandha is a plant that’s used to make medicines. 

This medicinal plant is native to Africa and Asia, and is most commonly used by the Indian population. This plant is said to be an adaptogen, which can help you respond to daily life struggle, anxiety, stress and fatigue. 

Lexapro, on the other hand, is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). These meds are used to treat the symptoms of depression and anxiety by blocking serotonin transporters (SERT), which results in increased serotonin activity in your body. 

Both of these drugs have antianxiety and sedative effects, which is considered the only possible interaction between these two, but that too on higher doses. 

Ashwagandha is more likely to cause drug-disease interaction, as it should not be used in people with autoimmune disease because of its immune boosting activity.

Make sure you ask your healthcare provider before using any medication or anything that possesses medicinal property, with your lexapro. 

FAQs: ashwagandha and lexapro 

Can ashwagandha be taken with antidepressants?

It is usually safe to use ashwagandha with your antidepressant, but it’s still advised to ask your healthcare provider before using any substance that has some medicinal property. The concomitant use of ashwagandha and lexapro might increase the chances of sedation. 

Does ashwagandha affect serotonin?

Few studies have revealed that ashwagandha do possess some serotonergic activity, which leads to the antidepressant and antianxiety property of this ayurvedic medicine. 

How long does it take for ashwagandha to kick in?

Ashwagandha usually takes 2 to 3 weeks to start producing noticeable changes in your system. Make sure you opt for a healthy lifestyle and add wholesome nutritious food in your diet. 

When should you not use ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha should not be used by everyone. Some people with underlying health conditions like liver disease, kidney disease, cardiac problems, thyroid disorder and different autoimmune diseases should not use ashwagandha. It is also not recommended to be used in pregnancy. 

How long does lexapro take to start producing its effects? 

Lexapro usually takes 4 to 5 weeks to start producing noticeable therapeutic results. This time duration can vary from person to person. Some people start noticing effects earlier than the others. Make sure you take it properly and avoid non-adherence. 

What can you not mix with Lexapro?

Do not mix following medications with lexapro:

  • Monoaminoxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). The combination use can increase the risk of serotonin syndrome. 
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). The combination use can increase the risk of bleeding. 
  • Pimozide. The concomitant use can increase the plasma concentration(availability of a drug in the blood) of pimozide to much higher levels. It can result in life-threatening arrhythmia.
  • Controlled substances, including all narcotic 
  • Analgesics. The concomitant use can cause severe psychological side effects. 
  • Mood stabilisers 
  • Alcohol 

References 

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