Withania somnifera, “Indian Winter Cherry” or Ashwagandha benefits as adaptogenic, anti-stress, immuno-modulator, nervine, tonic and aphrodisiac herb. This ayurvedic herb is used with special reputation attached to it very commonly in India. It is greatly helpful in restoring the strength of body and mind.
Benefits & Uses Of Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha & Body Humors:
- Winter cherry pacifies Kapha and Vata. Vata and Kapha based disorders are benefited by WS
Ashwagandha Benefits Stress, Anxiety, Depression & Insomnia:
- Aswagandha soothes and calms down the stressed mind and nerves. It helps to normalize the sympathetic tone that is increased in Stress, Anxiety and Depression. It relieves nervous exhaustion, brain fag, loss of memory, loss of muscular energy.
- Sound sleep is produced so W. somnifera is a good herb for Insomnia patients. It is better to use it with Valerian root and Oyster shell in Insomnia.
- Winter Cherry is a good hypnotic in Alcoholism.
Ashwagandha Benefits Rheumatic Pains:
- A good natural remedy for Arthritis. Most of the joints pain in arthritis are a result of degenerative disease in body due to wrong posture, wear and tear of tissues and aging. It is a good adaptogenic, immunity booster.
Ashwagandha As Nutritional Supplement:
- Leaves are used as an antihelminthic i.e. to kill the worms in intestines.
- Though it is a good nutritional supplement, it is somewhat heavy to digest. So I suggest it to be used with little pepper or dry ginger powder. However if your digestive power is good use it without any digestive additive.
- With Gokshura, it is a good nervine tonic for hypoglycemia and low blood pressure.
Ashwagandha As Adjuvant To Anti-Hypertensive & Anti-Stress Herbs:
- Aswagandha has no direct action on hypertension but it is an essential additive in herbal formulation for hypertension due to its effects on nerves, stress and brain and sleep.
Ashwagandha Benefits In The Breathing Difficulty:
- Root is particularly useful in Emphysematous dyspnea. Instead of root powder, the ksar preparation is useful for this effect. Root is also given in Consumption and Tuberculosis along with Rudanti (Capparis paniculata) powder.
Aswagandha As Immunity Booster In Skin Care:
- Withania somnifera is not directly useful for skin diseases. this herb must be given in severe skin problems where the disease process diminishes the vitality of the entire body as psoriasis, leprosy.
Aswagandha Benefits In Urinary Disorders:
- Fruits and seeds are used as diuretic.
- With Gokshura, it is better as a nervine tonic in hypoglycemia and
Aswagandha Benefits As Aphrodisiac For Sexual Health:
- Aswagandha is very useful in spermatorrhea, loss of strength, lack of sexual drive, erectile dysfunction. It is better to take its root powder with honey or sugar or clarified butter and long pepper. Its consumption should be followed by milk.
- It is a great aphrodisiac that has many side benefits and you can use it for long time.
- This herb is very useful for seminal debility – when the semen is of low quality i.e. either there is less than normal volume or in the poor quality of sperms or both.
- Cow hage seeds are a good supplement that can be taken with it as an aphrodisiac.
Ashwagandha Benefits Women:
- Withania somnifera is very good in bloody discharge and in leucorrhea. These patients complain about backache and weakness.
- This is found to be promising in steritlity of women.
- For increasing the milk secretion ( as galactogogue), Aswagandha is given with liquorice, Shatavari ( Asparagus racemosus) and Vidari ( Ipomoea paniculata).
- It is a good Uterine anti-inflammatory so useful in Uterine infections.
- Often good in Vaginal pains other than due to infections.
Ashwagandha Strengthening The Children:
- It is the solution of the parents who always complain to doctors that their children don’t put up more weight and is lean and thin despite eating a lot. So start with it to see your emaciated child healthy and plump.
Ashwagandha Benefits As Anti-Inflammatory Topically:
- It has some anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect.
- So root is used as an application in carbuncles, scrofulous and other glandular swellings
- The cleaned green root is made into a paste with water and applied as surgical dressing. It is good to boil the root when we are to use it over carbuncles and as surgical dressing. It helps to heal fast.
- The oils processed with Aswagandha and other herbs are used in rheumatic pains and swellings. It is better to warm the oil and then softly massage it over the affected joints.
Ashwagandha Benefits Senior Citizens:
- It is a good health restorative for aged persons who want to be more younger than their age.
- Use Withania somnifera freely in Senile debility. It invigorates the system.
Ashwagandha In General Use:
- Withania somnifera is a wonderful herbal body building solution for those who desire to build their body in a non harmful way.
- Winter Cherry is a good herb to be used when the body needs fresh energy and the rejuvenating effect that is depleted due to Chronic Constitutional diseases like Syphilis, Tuberculosis, Rheumatic fever, over-work and stressful situations. So Aswagandha promotes the anabolic activities in the body.
- For chronic fatigue, it is used with Licorice, Amla and Shatavari and some ayurvedic minerals.
Ashwagandha Benefits Healthy Vision:
- A mixture compound of Aswagandha, Liquorice and Amla ( Emblica offincinalis or Emblic myrobalan) is found to be useful for improving the eye sight. It should be used for more than three months.
Ashwagandha as a Versatile and Beneficial Herbal Remedy
Ashwagandha is a valuable adaptogenic and rejuvenative herb. WS is additionally useful in several other way.
WS exerts anti-inflammatory activity, antiviral activity, antibacterial activity. It is found promising in curing side effects of fungicide. It relieves CCl4 induced hepatotoxicity. Intestinal absorption is restored. Anti-ulcer activity is also found in this medicinal herb.
Anti-inflammatory Activity In Ashwagandha:
Five plants (Myrtus communis, Apium graveolens, Matricaria chamomilla, Withania somnifera and Achillea santolina) grown in Iraq were assessed for their anti-inflammatory activity on intact rats by measuring the suppression of carrageenan-induced paw edema produced by 1/10 of the intraperitoneal LD50 doses for the respective 80% ethanol extracts.
Acetylsalicylic acid was used as the standard drug. Results showed that the plants possessed varying degrees of anti-inflammatory activity and were classified in the following descending order of activity: W. somnifera > A. graveolens > A. santolina > M. chamomilla > M. communis.
Biological Research Centre, Scientific Research Council, Jadiriyah, Baghdad, Iraq.
Anti-Viral Activity Of Ashwagandha In HIV Infection:
The polyherbal drug Immu was tested at Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences, Hyderabad, India for its clinical efficacy and safety in 36 HIV infected persons.
This study was concluded with favorable effect of Aswagandha containing herbal formulation in HIV infected patients. The results showed significant symptomatic improvement and decreased viral load. There was increase in mean CD4 helper cells (the type of white blood corpuscle responsible for AIDS). Therefore herbal formulation showed potential role as co-therapeutic agent and warrants further investigation.
Antibacterial Activity Of Ashwagandha:
Researchers evaluated alcoholic and aqueous extract of Ashwagandha against experimental murine salmonellosis. It was found to possess strong anti-bacterial activity against a range of bacteria including Salmonella typhimurium. WS didn’t induce the lysis of erythrocytes like Chloramphenicol. Treated animals revealed better survival rate and lesser bacterial load in vital organs. (Phytomedicine 2005, March, 12(3), 229-35)
Another study also found potent antibacterial activity against S. typhimurium and E. coli. in withania somnifera. Additionally it exerted synergistic effect with Isoniazid and Rifampicin. (Fitoterapia, 2004 June 75(3-4):385-8)
Ashwagandha Curing The Side Effects Of Fungicide:
Phytomedicine 2000 published a study that reported use of Withanolides in curing the side effects of anti-fungal drug carbendazim. Carbendazim affects renal tubules and hepatocytes advesely.
Treatment of carbendazim-treated rats with the powder of tuberous root of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) for 48 days resulted in complete cure of these organs. The results indicate that Withania somnifera would be an effective curative for carbendazim-induced histopathological changes in the liver and kidney.
Department of Animal Science, School of Life Sciences, Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirappalli, India.
CCL4 Induced Hepatotoxicity & WS:
Protective effect of Withaferin-‘A’ against CCl4 induced hepatotoxicity has been assessed and the compound at 10 mg/kg dose was found to possess significant protective effect. A comparison of this protective effect with that of hydrocortisone showed it to be as effective as hydrocortisone dose per dose.
Department of Pharmacology, Medical College, Rohtak.
Ashwagandha Affecting Intestinal Absorption:
In a study published in Clinical Experimental Pharmacological Physiology, oral administration of WS extract was found to exert same effects as anti-inflammatory drug oxyphenbutazone when given prior to formalin injection in test animals.
The herbal extract or oxyphenbutazone restored the resorption of glucose from jejunum while formalin injection alone reduced this absorption of glucose.
The same effect was noticed in the absorption of leucine. The results indicates that WS extract possess anti-inflammatory activity on intestinal mucosa also.
Withanolide Affecting Gastric Mucosal Offensive & Defensive Factors:
Withafastuosin E (WE), a withanolide of Datura fastuosa, has been reported to possess anti-stress activity and augment prostaglandins. The present investigation has been undertaken to evaluate the anti-ulcer activity and its mechanism in various models of experimentally induced ulcers in rats.
WE (20 mg/kg, po) reduced the incidence of ulcer and ulcer index significantly in rats. The drug also decreased volume of gastric secretion, acid and peptic output, though it did not affect mucin secretion or mucosal glycoprotein content in terms of total carbohydrate:protein ratio or gastric cell shedding (in terms of gastric juice DNA content) or cell replication (in terms of microgram DNA/mg of protein).
The results suggest significant anti-ulcer activity of WE which may be due to its effect on decreasing the offensive acid-pepsin factors.
Department of Pharmacology, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India.
Ashwagandha Dosage & Phytochemicals
Ashwagandha – the great Immunity Boosting, Stress normalizing, Nerves relaxing, Muscle building, tonic and aphrodisiac herb. It is one of the best to be used in Degenerative diseases. It is the ideal herb to maintain optimum health.
Sanskrit & Local Names of Indian Winter Cherry:
Varahakarni and Ashwagandha. The literal meaning of Aswagandha is – the sweat of the horse, the herb bestowing the power of horse. Horse is a symbol of physical prowess and of sexual power.
Local Name of Withania somnifera:
There are some common names and the misspellings. They are common – aswagandha, asgandha, winter cherry, Indian Ginseng.
English Name of Withania somnifera:
Winter Cherry, Indian Ginseng, Indian Winter Cherry. Ginseng is a good adaptogenic but is quite strong – not in its efficacy but due to its effect on stomach. It is hot and with stimulatory property. Some persons compare it with Withania somnifera for its properties and in clinical research. WS is found at par in efficacy.
Withania Somnifera, Physalis flexuosa.
Other Names of Ashwagandha:
- Samm Al Ferakh
- Kanaje Hindi
Ashwagandha At Par With:
WS is one of the first class adaptogenic, tonic and rejuvenative herb. It is compared with world’s best herbs in this class like Ginseng, Astragalus, Dang gui, Reishi mushroom and South American Suma (Pfaffia paniculata).
The chemical components of WS are similar to Ginseng and studies have demonstrated its superiority to this chinese cousin in relieving stress.
Medicinally Used Parts Of Withania somnifera:
Root is used mostly as powder and in decoction. Leaves.
Biochemistry Of Withania somnifera:
The biochemical composition of WS has been widely studied and researched. Some 35 compounds had been analyzed in the laboratory.
- Alkaloids: About 13 alkaloids are known as Isopelletierine, Anaferine, Cuseohygrine, Anahygrine, Tropine etc.
- Somniferin: It is a bitter alkaloid with some hypnotic activity.
- Steroidal Lactones: Withanolides, Withanoferins.
- Saponins: These are with an additional acyl group (Sitoindoside VII and VIII.
- Withanolides With Carbon At 27th Position: Sitoindoside IX and X.
- Others: resin, fat, coloring matters, a reducing sugar, phytosterol, Ipuranol and a mixture of saturated and unsaturated acids.
Dosage Of Withania somnifera:
- Root powder: 2-5 gm. or half to one teaspoonful.
- Leaves powder: 2-5 gm. or half to one teaspoonful.
- Extract of Root: 250-500 mg (5:1), 200-300mg(10:1), two or three times daily.
Take Ashwagandha With:
- Milk or Water or Fruit Juice.
- Milk is indicated for debilated, weak persons or those with lower than normal body weight.
- Water or Fruit juice is good for obese and overweight individuals.
Withania somnifera In Africa:
WS is used traditionally in Africa for fevers and inflammatory conditions.
Ayurvedic Properties Of Withania somnifera:
- Light and unctuous qualities.
- Bitter, pungent and sweet in taste.
- Sweet in vipaka or post metabolic flavor. It is this property of WS that makes it valuable as a rejuvenative and tonic herb with nutrient value to tissues.
- Hot in active principle.
Ayurvedic Categories Of Withania somnifera:
- Balya i.e. Good for infusing energy in the system and as body building herb.
- As a part in Weight and muscle mass increasing herbs.
- As one in Madhura or Sweet taste herbs.
Ayurvedic & Herbal Formulations Of W. somnifera:
- Aswagandhadi Powder
- Aswagandha Rasayana
- Aswagandha Ghritam
About (Ashwagandha) Withania somnifera Plant
Withania somnifera or Indian Winter cherry or Ashwagandha is a famous herbal remedy in Ayurvedic medicine. It is used as anti-stress, anti-depressant, adaptogenic, rejuvenative, aphrodisiac, body building herb with great promises.
WS is commonly grown and naturally found in India and North American region, Africa and Mediterranean area. However it is in use for thousands of years in India and in Ayurveda.
Growth Of WS:
WS is an erect and branched shrub with greenish or lurid yellow flowers.
WS grows and it is ready for harvest in one year and it does not require very special environmental conditions for its growth. On the other hand, herbs like Ginseng require special growing conditions and may take up to seven years to have their full medicinal value.
This aspect of WS can help to the issue of herbal extinction. Some herbs like Ginseng, Goldenseal, Suma, Lady’s slipper are greatly used in western world and they might be helped with this fact.
Condition Of Soil:
WS grows well in sandy loam or light red soil having pH 7.5 to 8.0 with good drainage. Black soils or such heavy soils are suitable for cultivation.
Climatic Conditions For Growth:
WS is grown as late rainy season (kharif) crop. The semi-tropical areas receiving 500 to 750 mm rainfall are suitable for its cultivation as rainfed crop. If one or two winter rains are received, the root development improves.
The crop requires relatively dry season during its growing period. It can tolerate a temperature range of 200C to 380C and even low temperature as low as 100C. The plant grows from sea level to an altitude of 1500 meter above sea level.
Varieties Of WS:
The Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwavidyalay, Madhya Pradesh, has released one high alkaloid variety “Jawahar” which is short in stature and most amenable for high density planting. The variety yields in 180 days and yields a total withanolides content of 0.30 per cent in dry roots.
Harvesting Of WS:
Maturity of the crop is judged by drying out of leaves and yellow-red berries. Flowering and bearing of fruits start from December onwards. The crop is harvested for roots by digging in January to March i.e. 150 to 180 days after sowing.
There should be moisture in soil at the time of digging. Roots are dug out or ploughed using power tiller or a country plough. The tap root should be carefully pulled out not damaging even the small lateral roots.
Post-harvest handling & Various Grades:
The roots are separated from the aerial portion by cutting the stem 1 to 2 cm above the ground. After digging, the roots are washed, cut into 7 to 10 cm small pieces and dried in sun or shed. Roots should be dried to 10 – 12 % moisture content. Root pieces can be graded in following 3-4 grades as per its length and thickness :
(1) A grade root: Root pieces upto 7cm and diameter 1.0 – 1.5 cm, solid, bright and pure white.
(2) B grade root: Root piece upto 5 cm and diameter 1 cm, bright and white.
(3) C grade root: Root pieces upto 3-4 cms in length, diameter less than 1 cm,solid, side branches.
(4) Lower Grade: Small root pieces, semi-solid, very thick, yellowish, chopped.
The superior grade has stout and long root which fetches premium price. To avoid moisture and fungal attack on the dried roots, it should be stored in tin containers.
Berries are hand plucked separately. They are dried and crushed to take out the seeds.
Description In Ayurveda:
This is a small, woody and erect shrub and grows up to 5 feet of height. It is well branched.
The traditional description of a herb is very different from the one that is used by modern herbal medicine researchers. Previously it was governed by organoleptic criteria like smell, flavor, texture, shape, color, post digestive flavor or metabolic flavor, active property, unique effects.
Ayurvedic medicine used all of these and developed a set of its own criteria – taste, properties, post digestive flavor, active property, unique effect.
Its fruit is bright red and in clusters. Fruit is harvested in late fall. The bright yellow seeds are dried and planted in next spring. The cultivated Nagori variety is considered best in India. It is reported to be up to 7 feet in height. Nagori variety is cultivated in Rajasthan State of India.
The root is greyish from outside and white from inside and 1 to 1.5 feet long. The earthy odor and flavor of WS is due to some steroidal lactones or Withanolides.
Ashwagandha Coagulans, a related species and occasional adulterant, primarily uses the inside kernel of the seed capsule containing “withanin” which is similar to rennet to curdle milk. “About a tablespoon of the mixture of seeds with a little milk (1 in 40) is enough to coagulate a gallon of milk in approximately a half an hour. Alcohol will destroy the coagulating principle but the dried capsules can be used.
Other Species Of WS:
There are over 20 other species of the Withania that occur in the dry parts of India, North Africa, Middle East and Mediterranean. These include Withania coagulens and Withania simonii, the roots of which are sometimes used interchangeably with those of Withania somnifera.
Withania somnifera itself has been extensively domesticated from the wild form. In India, at least five different cultivars have been developed for increased root size and adaptation to different climates.