*image credit in reference section
Solonaceae family (nightshade family)
Energy: warm and bitter
Latin name: Withania somnifera
Western medicine/research: constituents include (*not an exhaustive list); withanolides (withanolideA, withanolide D, withaferin A), alkaloids, sitoindosides, saponins, tropine, pseudotropine isopelletrine, anaferine, etc.
Actions: adaptogenic, hypnotic or induces sleep (leaves more so), “anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, anti-stress, neuroprotective, cardioprotective, and anti-diabetic” (Dar, Nawab John, Abid Hamid, and Muzamil Ahmad, 2015), sexual tonic (especially for men)
“management of various disease conditions like bronchial asthma, chronic fever, cold, cough, malaria, dysentery, convulsions, diabetes, diarrhea, arthritis, emetic syndrome, skin diseases, insect bite etc. and in treatment of gastric, hepatic, cardiovascular & immunological disorders” (Verma, Sitansu Kumar, and Ajay Kumar, 2011)
“a viable therapeutic agent for addressing anxiety, cancer, microbial infection, immunomodulation, and neurodegenerative disorders.” (A Dar, Parvaiz, et al. 2016)
Ashwagandha root “has been demonstrated to reduce anxiety and stress, allowing the body to settle down and prepare for sleep” (Deshpande, Abhijit, Nushafreen Irani, and Rathna Balakrishnan, 2018)
“root extract of the plant was found to possess strong antibacterial activity against MRSA as revealed by in -vitro tests” and “Our study suggests that the bioactive fractions separated from aqueous extract of W. somnifera is a potential source of antibacterial compounds with antioxidant property.” (Mehrotra, Vidhi, et al. 2011)
“withanolides have been found cytotoxic to cancer cells, immunomodulatory, and neuroprotective in function” (Rai, Mahendra, et al. 2016)
“Moreover, the toxicological studies revealed that the reasonable doses of W. somnifera are non-toxic and safe” (Rai, Mahendra, et al. 2016)
“All five studies concluded that WS intervention resulted in greater score improvements (significantly in most cases) than placebo in outcomes on anxiety or stress scales.” (Pratte, Morgan A., et al. 2014)
675mg 3 times per day dose of Ashwagandha root extract: “There was a 167% increase in sperm count, 53% increase in semen volume, and 57% increase in sperm motility on day 90 from baseline.” (Ambiye, Vijay R., et al. 2013)
“Treatment with Withania somnifera extract (100 mg/Kg/day p.o.) for 15 days significantly reduced ulcer-index as compared to control group. Extract also significantly reduced volume of gastric secretion, free acidity and total acidity” (Bhatnagar, M., C. P. Jain, and S. S. Sisodia. 2005)
Traditional Ayurvedic (Indian) medicine: (Indian ginseng) Considered the primary tonic herb in India (the ‘rejuvenator’)
- Ashwagandha means ‘smelling like a horse’
- Rasayana herb (‘path of essence’ herb), used ‘to expand lifespan and longevity’
- Specific for Vata constitutions (nervous/anxious types)
- Increases Ama (toxic phlegm) in excess type people (lymphatic conditions, colds/flus with congestion, general sinus congestion and allergies, etc.)
- Used for nervous exhaustion and anxiety
- Sexual tonic for females when combined with Shatavari root
- The “grounding” herb, helps stabilize metabolism, immune system, and mood
(KPS. Khalsa & M. Tierra, 2008)
Cautions: not for excess constitutions with high phlegm disorders or ailments, avoid when pregnant, may interact with blood pressure and thyroid medications, caution with individuals with nightshade family intolerances
Preparation and dosage: 1-10 grams (KPS. Khalsa & M. Tierra, 2008)
Traditional use: 1-10g decocted or cooked over a long period in milk (for acute conditions, specific for inducing sleep), 1 gram for lifelong use (specifically for male infertility)
*Always consult a qualified health professional before using herbal medicine, especially in conjunction with pharmaceuticals, or book an appointment with me
Book an appointment today with Shannon Hobson
Certified East West Herbalist
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- Dar, Nawab John, Abid Hamid, and Muzamil Ahmad. “Pharmacologic overview of Withania somnifera, the Indian ginseng.” Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences 72.23 (2015): 4445-4460.
- Verma, Sitansu Kumar, and Ajay Kumar. “Therapeutic uses of Withania somnifera (ashwagandha) with a note on withanolides and its pharmacological actions.” Asian J Pharm Clin Res 4.1 (2011): 1-4.
- A Dar, Parvaiz, et al. “Unique medicinal properties of Withania somnifera: Phytochemical constituents and protein component.” Current pharmaceutical design 22.5 (2016): 535-540.
- Deshpande, Abhijit, Nushafreen Irani, and Rathna Balakrishnan. “Study protocol and rationale for a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to evaluate the effects of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract on nonrestorative sleep.” Medicine 97.26 (2018).
- Mehrotra, Vidhi, et al. “Antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of aqueous extract of Withania somnifera against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.” J Microbiol Biotechnol Res 1.1 (2011): 40-5.
- Rai, Mahendra, et al. “Anticancer activities of Withania somnifera: Current research, formulations, and future perspectives.” Pharmaceutical biology 54.2 (2016): 189-197.
- Pratte, Morgan A., et al. “An alternative treatment for anxiety: a systematic review of human trial results reported for the Ayurvedic herb ashwagandha (Withania somnifera).” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 20.12 (2014): 901-908.
- Ambiye, Vijay R., et al. “Clinical evaluation of the spermatogenic activity of the root extract of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in oligospermic males: a pilot study.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013 (2013).
- Bhatnagar, M., C. P. Jain, and S. S. Sisodia. “Anti-ulcer activity of Withania somnifera in stress plus pyloric ligation induced gastric ulcer in rats.” J Cell Tissue Res 5.1 (2005): 287-292.
- Khalsa & M. Tierra, “The Way of Ayurvedic Herbs”, p.97, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes WI, 2008.