Ashwagandha vs Lexapro: Which Drug Is a Better Alternative for Treating Anxiety?

What if there were some magic pills to make all your anxiety disappear? You take a pill when you are worried and then poof! But life ain’t easy, you can only reduce anxiety, not eradicate it. This is when “psychotropic drugs” like antidepressants come as blessings.

Now this brings into question Ashwagandha and Lexapro – which drug is a safer alternative  to treat anxiety? 

Ashwagandha is a herbal supplement that people believe has worked efficiently to manage stress while Lexapro is a psychiatric drug that has been beneficial against various forms of anxiety disorders. Both drugs can manage anxiety to some extent but come in handy with boon and bane hence you need to be cautious, and it’s efficiency may vary among consumers.  

So, keep reading the following sections to know the elaborate explanation. 

Which Drug is a Better Choice Between Ashwagandha and Lexapro If You Want to Manage Anxiety?

If you have never had panic attacks at the most inconvenient hour or any sort of anxiety disorder, then consider yourself lucky! Being a person who becomes anxious for the tiniest unnecessary thing, I can feel what most of you have to endure each day, each passing event of your life.  

Ashwagandha – a very popular Ayurvedic product found in almost every Indian household, has been trusted by several for its therapeutic uses. It is a herbal supplement that is beneficial to stabilize the signs of inflammation and stress in the body. Extracts of roots of this shrub are used to treat a variety of conditions.  

On the other hand, Lexapro is the brand name for an antidepressant called Escitalopram. This drug is best used to treat anxiety disorders, depression, mood disorders, etc that eventually aims to refine the quality of life of the consumer and improve psychosocial function as well.

ashwagandha-and-lexapro

Now the question comes, which one is more efficacious between Ashwagandha and Lexapro. You have already read that one is a herbal supplement and the other is an antidepressant. From this, you might as well assume that both of them combined don’t have a very specific purpose.

While the purpose of Lexapro is definitive and works particularly for the treatment of depression and anxiety, Ashwagandha is an ancient herb that is used by a lot of people for its flourishing effects on the body and reduction of cortisol which increases in stress. It is also popular for its reasonable cost and wide availability all across the globe although its rate of potency is yet to be proven.  

There were few studies conducted over control groups of stressed adults and the participants daily consumed ashwagandha among which a lot of them had anxiety reduction and decreased level of stress hormone cortisol than the placebo group. 

Now you might ask why a pharmaceutical product like Lexapro is recommended instead of a potentially harmless Ayurvedic product? It is because the effectiveness of ashwagandha has been ambiguous and questionable due to insufficient study. Experts need to conduct more human trials to scientifically recommend Ashwagandha for reducing anxiety. 

While Ashwagandha had inadequate trials, Lexapro evolved rapidly by gaining acceptance globally even though it had few unpleasant reactions to the body and is contraindicated to a large number of people. Since the benefits were unprecedented than the adverse effects, people kept taking this drug as a medication that could resolve various mental conditions like anxiety and depression. 

Therefore, you have your answers! Lexapro is a safer and substantial selection of medication when it comes to the management of anxiety disorders and ashwagandha is a considerable choice if you want to enhance your energy level and manage stress.

The efficacy and potency of any pharmaceutical product, say Escitalopram itself, is higher than most other herbal medicines or supplements. But that necessarily doesn’t mean ashwagandha is a wrong selection. You can take ashwagandha for a particular time, preferably on a short time basis, when you want to prohibit these stressors to impact your health and wellbeing. 

Now that you’ve learned about Ashwagandha and Lexapro, let’s read about these medicines briefly. In the following section, you will know about the effective uses, side effects, and contraindications of consumption of ashwagandha and Lexapro. So, enlighten ten yourself with the necessary knowledge.  

Ashwagandha and Lexapro: Basic Informations You Need to Know

This segment contains the basic knowledge concerning Ashwagandha and Lexapro. It’s always good to know about any medicine you are using. So, take a quick glance at them. 

Ashwagandha: 

One of the most ancient herbal components that have been consumed by people invariably has been ashwagandha. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an annual shrub that grows mostly in India, the  Middle East and some areas in Africa. It is commonly known as Indian Ginseng, Winter Cherry or poison gooseberry around the globe. 

If you are familiar with the word ‘adaptogen’  then you can somehow relate to the uses of ashwagandha. Adaptogens are assumed to resist physical and mental inducers of stress.

ashwagandha

It is therapeutic and used to boost energy levels and promote better health for every individual. In addition, it helps to improve stamina and fight fatigue, making your body feel energised.  

Beneficial Uses

This Ayurvedic product can be taken for a considerable number of purposes. Nevertheless, it must be remembered that ashwagandha is just a herbal supplement, not a cure or treatment option for any clinical condition. There are very limited relevant studies that show the effectiveness of having ashwagandha.

Here are the uses of ashwagandha:

  • Can lower blood sugar and reduce the possible causes of arthritis.
  • Can reduce cortisol level.
  • May reduce anxiety and symptoms of insomnia allowing you to sleep better.
  • Eases pain and inflammation. 
  • Enhances the level of testosterone and improves sperm quality.
  • It may be used as an aphrodisiac (the components that increases sexual desire and better performances while having sexual intercourse) 
  • Increases strength and is proven beneficial for gain in muscle mass.

Adverse Effects of Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is said to be non-toxic and potentially safe for the body. It is safe to consume for a short time. Prolonged use may cause intestinal or liver problems. Some of the possible side effects of ashwagandha are 

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea 
  • Gastrointestinal disturbance
  • Alteration in the blood pressure etc.

Contraindication

Ashwagandha has always been considered safe for most people although it must be avoided for certain health conditions. 

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Ulcer in stomach
  • Hypertension
  • Hypotension

Lexapro: Escitalopram

Lexapro, a brand name for Escitalopram, is an antidepressant that falls under the category of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). It works by enhancing the level of serotonin, which is a natural substance in the neuronal endings of your brain. 

lexapro

It is orally absorbed and extensively distributed in tissues. Escitalopram differentiates itself from other similar SSRI drugs with a faster onset of action and better efficacy. 

Beneficial Uses 

This drug is mainly used for the treatment of Major Depressive disorder (MDD) and Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Not only mental conditions but Lexapro is also known to have beneficial effects that involve mood, sleep and other functions. 

Adverse Effects of Lexapro  

Some of the probable adverse effects of Lexapro is mentioned below

  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Decreased libido
  • Failed or delayed ejaculation
  • Nausea

At times you may experience some severe side effects that require emergency medical help: irregular heartbeats, seizures, blurred vision, unusual twitching movements of the muscle, agitation etc. If you notice these signs then go to the hospital without further delay. 

Contraindications

People with the following conditions must not consume Escitalopram/Lexapro. And even if somebody needs to have this drug, consultation with a physician is obligatory.

  • Electrolyte imbalance with low levels of Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium in the blood
  • A disorder with excess antidiuretic hormones
  • Certain cardiac diseases
  • Manic behaviour
  • Mental conditions that may provoke suicidal thoughts
  • Liver diseases
  • Glaucoma
  • Bleeding from abdominal organs

Which Is More Effective to Manage Stress? 

If you consider the functions of both the drugs, you will see Lexapro is specified to treat various forms of anxiety disorders and fight against the indications of depression. On the other hand, ashwagandha has a calming effect on the body that works predominantly to reduce cortisol, the stress hormone and serves to reduce anxiety. 

Therefore, if you are already in severe depression which needs urgent medical care, then you have to go for refined treatment plans that might include medications and professional counselling as well. In this circumstance, you must opt for antidepressants.

They may bring along a combination of significant side effects but they will show results after a certain time of consumption. Nevertheless, there are several medicines to choose from out of which Escitalopram or Lexapro is a considerable choice of drug for treating these symptoms. 

But if you want to prevent stress beforehand, then ashwagandha is your choice. It is easily available, cheap and a safe herbal remedy that has been consumed by people for years to remember. It will not only manage stress but also rejuvenate your body, reduce fatigue and boost your stamina.

But you need to remember that it doesn’t work equally for everybody. Just because it suited one consumer doesn’t certainly denote that your body will strongly take in ashwagandha. 

Bonus: Home Remedies for Stress Management 

Before starting any medication, you must remember that taking medicines is not the only remedy for stress or anxiety management.

You can do tons of different activities to keep your body functional and your mind composed. 

  • Try doing Yoga and meditation. If you are seeking to lose weight, then continue with your workout routine. 
  • Go for morning walks. Be under the sun’s exposure for some time. It elevates the level of serotonin. 
  • Drink chamomile tea. 
  • Practice deep breathing. 
  • Avoid alcohol and limit daily intake of caffeinated drinks.
  • Keep yourself active and occupied with things you like to do like singing, dancing, writing journals, doodling, cooking, watching movies, etc.
  • Prioritize sound sleep. Sleep for 7-8 hours every night
  • Keep yourself happy and practice mindfulness. 

FAQs

Is ashwagandha used for anxiety?

Answer: Ashwagandha doesn’t have a direct effect on reducing anxiety but it can induce a calming reaction on the body which is similar to the effects of pharmaceutical products like antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs. 

Is Lexapro better than most other antidepressants?

Answer: Among all the currently available antidepressants, the drugs belonging to the SSRI category are considered the most effective and impactful to treat anxiety. Among these several drugs, Escitalopram or Lexapro is superior because it has the highest selectivity for the serotonin transporter (SERT) than other types. 

What are the most common side effects of Lexapro? 

Answer: Escitalopram or Lexapro comes with several adverse effects, although they are milder than other drugs belonging to a similar category of antidepressants. You may notice nausea, dizziness, constipation, certain sexual problems, etc if you take Lexapro. 

Why should we take an expensive drug like Lexapro instead of a cheaper product like Ashwagandha?

Answer: It is because Ashwagandha is presumably used to prevent and combat the stress of the body. Lexapro, however, is never implied to be consumed to prevent any symptom, rather to ‘treat’ a pre-existing medical condition that needs to be under control. 

Summary

Hopefully, from this writeup, you will be able to distinguish between the effectiveness of ashwagandha and Lexapro. These drugs can help you combat the signs of stress and fatigue but need to be taken carefully so that you don’t overuse them. 

If you feel insecure or ashamed to talk about anxiety or other mental conditions, don’t segregate yourself from others, because you are not in this alone.

Maisha Zarnaz

Maisha Zarnaz

I am Maisha, currently studying for MBBS in Armed Forces Medical College, Dhaka. The advancements in medical science enthrals me a lot, hence I like to read medical blogs and articles and help people with whatever knowledge I have been able to acquire on healthy eating, lifestyle and skin care. I love watching TV series or baking when I'm free and music has always been my passion.

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