How is Winter Cherry Used in the Treatment of Anxiety?

Winter cherry is sometimes used to help relieve social anxiety.
Winter cherry is used as part of complementary medicine for anxiety. Hendric König / EyeEm / Getty Images

Winter cherry (withania somnifera), also known as ashwagandha or Indian ginseng, has traditionally been used as part of a holistic system of medicine in India known as ayurveda. This herbal supplement is produced from the root of the plant and is known as an adaptogen, meaning that it helps the body adapt to stress.

In terms of emotional health, winter cherry has been used to promote emotional balance in cases of mild anxiety, depression and mental or physical fatigue.

The supplement is also known to have many preventative qualities, such as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

How to Take It

Winter cherry is typically taken in capsule form, but it is also available in other forms, such as a tincture or tea.

Dosage Guidelines

Read the product label for dosing instructions and consult a healthcare provider if necessary. The recommended adult dosage for capsule form of winter cherry is 50 to 250 mg daily. 

Who Shouldn’t Take Winter Cherry

Do not take winter cherry if you are pregnant or nursing or taking prescription monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). There is not enough scientific evidence to recommend the use of winter cherry in children.

Medication Interactions

You may experience drowsiness if you combine winter cherry with benzodiazepines, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).

Side Effects

Side effects of winter cherry are generally rare and mild and may include stomach upset and nausea.

Associated Risks

There are no known risks associated with winter cherry; however, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the production of herbs and supplements. Most herbs and supplements are not thoroughly tested, and there is no guarantee regarding the ingredients or safety of the products.

Effectiveness of Winter Cherry for Anxiety

A systematic review of studies examining the effectiveness of winter cherry for the treatment of anxiety conducted in 2014 and published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found mixed evidence.

While there was evidence of significant improvements in anxiety or stress using winter cherry in comparison with placebo for all five studies examined, varying study methods and the potential for bias weakened this evidence.

Should I Take Winter Cherry?

If you plan to take winter cherry for social anxiety, know that additional research is still needed to determine the usefulness of this alternative treatment for anxiety and stress. 

However, it is unlikely that taking winter cherry will make your social anxiety worse. If you are trying a variety of methods to reduce your social anxiety, you could include winter cherry to see if you notice a positive effect.


Clarocet. Winter Cherry

Pratte MA, Nanavati KB, Young V, Morley CP. An Alternative Treatment for Anxiety: A Systematic Review of Human Trial Results Reported for the Ayurvedic Herb Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera). J Altern Complement Med. 2014;20(12):901-908. 

Smart Publications. Ashwagandha: The Rejuvenating Antioxidant that Calms the Heart and Mind!

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