Ashwagandha,  Withania somnifera

Withania somnifera (Ashawagandha) is very revered herb of the Indian Ayurvedic system of medicine. Presented here is information on this broad spectrum medicinal.  The word, somnifera, refers to ashwagandha’s use as a sedative. 

My Ashwagandha tincture is an extract made from the organic root stock, tinctured in alcohol.

Ashwagandha enhances the function of the brain and nervous system and improves the memory.  It improves the function of the reproductive system promoting a healthy sexual and reproductive balance.  Being a powerful adaptogen, it enhances the body's resilience to stress.  Ashwagandha improves the body's defense against disease by improving the cell-mediated immunity.  It also possesses potent antioxidant properties that help protect against cellular damage caused by free radicals.

The main active chemical constituents in ashwagandha are steroid lactones:  withaferin A, sitoindoside IX and X, acylsteryl glucosides, phytosterols, alkaloids of tropane type, isopelletierine and anaferine, cuseohygrine and anahygrine,  saponins, and acylsterylglucosides.

Ashwagandha is a plant traditionally used in India in the Ayurvedic system of medicine.  Ayurvedic practitioners interpret ashwagandha to mean ‘horse essence’ imparting strength, character or stamina.

Preparations of various plant parts, (roots and leafs) have been credited with the following actions:  abortifacient, adaptogenic, alterative, analgesic, antiarthritic, antiasthmatic, antibiotic, antidyspeptic, anti-inflammatory, antimitotic, antiproliferative, antitumor, aphrodisiac, astringent, bactericide, carminative, contraceptive, depurative, diuretic, emetic, febrifuge, fungicidal, hypnotic, immune-modulating, laxative, proteolytic, tonic and nervine sedative.It is believed to be quite helpful to the elderly by providing energy and relieving pain, inflammation and nervous debility.

Ashwagandha’s various plant parts have been used as a folk remedy for:  adenopathy, anthrax, arthritis, asthma, brain fog, bronchitis, cancer, candida, colds and chills, cough, cystitis, diarrhea, dropsy, dyspepsia, erysipelas, fever, furuncle, glandular swelling, gynecopathy, hiccups, hypertension, impotence or seminal debility, inflammation, lumbago, marasmus, nausea, piles, proctitis, psoriasis, rheumatism, ringworm, scabies, senility, smallpox, sores, spermatorrhea, syphilis, tuberculosis, tumors, typhoid, uterosis and wounds, to increase breast milk, to counteract the loss of memory, for muscular energy and to combat nervous exhaustion, for senile and general debility and for weakness due to vata dosha.  

A long list, indeed, attesting the Ashwagandha’s medicinal powers. 

In the Unani system of medicine the dried mature root is referred to as ‘asgand’ and used to treat:  leucorrhoea, spermatorrhoea, decreased viscosity of the semen, sexual debility, lumbago and arthritis.

Research Conducted on Ashwagandha

Much of the research done has been conducted in India using modern clinical research techniques.  In these clinical trials ashwagandha has been found to improve the quality of life for breast cancer by delivering less fatigue during chemotherapy.

In infertile males ashwagandha normalized markers in seminal plasma, possible aiding resolves infertility.

In a meta study examining a number of studies ashwagandha was found to be tonic and restorative, supportive and adaptogenic. Ashwagandha increases hemoglobin, red blood cell count, hair melanin content, decreases serum cholesterol and improves men’s sexual performance, improves alertness, the state of awareness, responsiveness and sleep patterns.  It has a Cognition Promoting Effect and was useful in children with memory deficit and in old age people loss of memory.  It has anxiolytic effect and improves energy levels and mitochondrial health. It is an anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic agent and was found useful in clinical cases of Rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis.

Ashwagandha improved the quality of life, reduced stress, improved vitality and motivation in a group of patients suffering from moderate to sever anxiety.   This study suggest that a high-concentration full-spectrum Ashwagandha root extract safely and effectively improves an individual's resistance towards stress and thereby improves self-assessed quality of life.

In RATS it increases their stamina during swimming endurance tests and prevented adrenal gland changes of ascorbic acid and cortisol content produce by swimming stress.  I point this out because of the effect on cortisol, a basic and important component of the endocrine system.

         Ashwagandha    Research  updated May, 2018

And the disclaimer:  this information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, please consult your health care professional.

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