Ashwagandha – a potent adaptogenic herb – became increasingly popular because of its numerous health benefits including stress reduction, boosted cognitive function, and the improved immune system. Nevertheless, a query remains here; whether or not the aforementioned professionals, like pilots, can also use this herb. In this article, we will investigate the safety and possible benefits of ashwagandha for pilots, taking into consideration the specific challenges they have in their job.


The Ashwagandha herb, scientifically known as Withania somnifera, is widely used in Ayurveda system of medicine and has a history of use spanning over three thousand years[^1^]. The plant is known for its wide-ranging health benefits, including:

  • Stress and anxiety reduction
  • Boosted cognition and memory
  • Improved immune function
  • Increased energy and vitali
  • Support for hormonal balance
  • Anti-inflammatory properties

All those health benefits can be credited to the bioactive components of ashwagandha which include withanolides, sitoindosides and alkaloids [^2^]. Nevertheless, looking at ashwagandha as a supplement for pilots is not justifying before understanding the challenges faced by the aviation profession.


Pilots happen to face numerous challenges in their profession which can severely affect their health and wellness. Some of these challenges include that distributions between areas are remarkably different.

  1. Stress and anxiety: Pilots have to deal with many high-stress situations, like handling emergencies, flying through bad weather and ensuring passenger safety.
  2. Cognitive demands: Pilots have to maintain a high level of concentration, attention, and decision-making skills constantly as their cognitive function is crucial.
  3. Sleep disturbances: Irregular sleeping patterns as result of long flights with jet lag in different time zones leads to chronic sleep deprivation hampering physical health and performance.

Taking into account these peculiar problems, it is needed to analyze whether ashwagandha can benefit pilots in attaining good health and performance.


The stress-relieving and adaptogenic properties of Ashwagandha make the body adjust more easily to stressors. A study published in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine found that ashwagandha significantly reduced stress and anxiety in adults [^3^]. This could potentially benefit pilots by:

  • Relieve stress-induced physical symptoms, for example, tension headache and muscle tightness
  • Strengthens their capacity to handle demanding situations.
  • Overall mental health and resilience

Apart from that, adaptogenic properties of ashwagandha prevent pilots from developing chronic stress-related health problems by keeping their physiological response to stress balanced.


Cognitive function is a key factor of a pilot’s performance which involves attention, focus, decision-making, and memory. Research has proved that ashwagandha may improve cognitive function. A study conducted by the Journal of Dietary Supplements reported that the ashwagandha supplementation led to the improvement in cognitive performance, attention, and reaction time in healthy adults[^4^]Therefore, ashwagandha could potentially:

  • Enhance a pilot’s capability of sustaining concentration and attention while onboard
  • Improve decision-making under pressure
  • Meaningful to the tasks of keeping information as well as memories of saved data important in
    the navigation of procedures and regulations.


Pilots often have sleep problems – disrupted patterns and jet lag. Sleep deprivation can lead to serious health issues as well as poor cognitive function. A sleep-inducing effect has been found for ashwagandha, as documented in a study published in PLoS ONE showing that bioactive substances in the leaves of ashwagandha improved the quality of sleep in mice[^5^]. By promoting better sleep quality, ashwagandha could potentially:

  • Help pilots to establish regular sleep schedules, a key factor in maintaining good cognitive functioning.
  • Reduce the effects of jet lag and facilitate faster adaptation to new time zones
  • Promote the general health and well-being by providing enough rest and recovery


While ashwagandha offers potential benefits for pilots, it is essential to consider safety concerns and precautions associated with its use:

  1. Drug interactions: Ashwagandha might interact with some medications including blood pressure medications, blood thinners, and sedatives[^6^]. A pilot should talk to a healthcare provider before taking ashwagandha, especially if he is taking any medication.
  2. Side effects: While ashwagandha is considered safe in most cases, it can cause side effects in some people like gastrointestinal problems, drowsiness, or allergic reactions[^7^]. Pilots should keep track of whether ashwagandha supplementation is causing any side-effects and discontinue use if so.
  3. Regulatory considerations: Pilots need to know the aviation laws relative to the use of supplements and medication in their respective countries and organizations and adhere to these laws for a continued professional standing.


Ashwagandha provides possible advantages for pilots including stress relief, enhanced cognitive functions, and better sleep quality. Nonetheless, it is necessary for pilots to assess probable safety issues with the help of a healthcare professional before including ashwagandha in their routine. If pilots are careful enough, they might be able to use the health-inducing properties of ashwagandha to support their health and, thus, to achieve the peak of their performance in the tough aviation profession.


  1. Singh, N., Bhalla, M., Jager, P. D., & Gilca, M. (2011). An overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda. African Journal of Traditional, Complementary, and Alternative Medicines, 8(5S).
  2. Mir, B. A., Khazir, J., Mir, N. A., Hasan, T., & Koul, S. (2012). Botanical, chemical and pharmacological review of Withania somnifera (Indian ginseng): An Ayurvedic medicinal plant. Indian Journal of Drugs and Diseases, 1(6), 147-160.
  1. Chandrasekhar, K., Kapoor, J., & Anishetty, S. (2012). A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of Ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, 34(3), 255-262.
  2. Choudhary, D., Bhattacharyya, S., & Bose, S. (2017). Efficacy and safety of ashwagandha (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal) root extract in improving memory and cognitive functions. Journal of Dietary Supplements, 14(6), 599-612.
  3. Kaushik, M. K., Kaul, S. C., Wadhwa, R., Yanagisawa, M., & Urade, Y. (2017). Triethylene glycol, an active component of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) leaves, is responsible for sleep induction. PLoS ONE, 12(2), e0172508.
  4. (2021). Ashwagandha. Retrieved from
  5. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Ashwagandha. Retrieved from

By considering the evidence-based benefits of ashwagandha for stress relief, cognitive function enhancement, and sleep quality improvement, pilots can make informed decisions about incorporating this powerful adaptogenic herb into their daily routines. However, it is essential to remember that individual responses to supplementation may vary, and the regulatory requirements for pilots may differ across organizations and countries.

In conclusion, ashwagandha offers promising potential for pilots seeking to optimize their well-being and performance in a demanding profession. By taking necessary precautions, staying informed about aviation regulations, and consulting with healthcare professionals, pilots can safely explore ashwagandha supplementation as a valuable tool for maintaining their overall health and navigating the unique challenges of their career.

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