Topics: Ayurveda, Immune system, Ginseng Pages: 21 (4556 words) Published: August 14, 2012
The Ashwagandha Plant

Ashwagandha- the Indian ginseng

Ashwagandha - also known as Indian Winter Cherry has the Botanical name Withania Somnifera -It is a shrub belonging to Solanace family. It is grown in the western India, Gujarat, MP, Punjab and in Himalaya

Ashwagandha gets its name because its roots have the odor of horse. ( Ashwa = horse , gandha = odor ). It is called by another name Varaha karni because its leaves resemble pig’s ear.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is also known as winter cherry, Indian ginseng, and a number of other regional names. The word ashwagandha in Sanskrit actually means the smell of a horse, which probably refers to the distinctly strong aroma from its roots.6 This greyish-colored evergreen shrub is native to parts of Africa, India, and the Middle East, but is now grown in many other temperate regions as well.1,10

A member of the nightshade family (like tomatoes and eggplants), ashwagandha can grow up to seven feet in height in warm climates, has greenish-yellow flowers when in full bloom, and small orange berries (when mature).10-11 Similar to turmeric and ginseng, the roots are the primary medicinal component of the plant, but the fruits and leaves also offer some therapeutic value.1

For centuries, Ayurvedic medicine has used the ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) plant as an aphrodisiac, to remedy general weakness and exhaustion, as well as for its stress-relieving qualities.1 In Ayurveda, certain herbal formulas are considered to be rejuvenating. These formulas are called Rasáyana tonics, and they are typically taken over long periods of time to regenerate both brain and body tissue.2 In rare cases an herb is so potent and has so many health benefits that Ayurveda considers it to be a Rasáyana therapy on its own.3 Ashwagandha is one such herb.

Modern medical research indicates that ashwagandha exerts a number of effects that may prove beneficial to humans, including:1,4



boosts the immune system

blocks tumor growth

regulates hormones

stabilizes mood and reduces anxiety

regenerates nerve cells

With an abundance of antioxidants, iron, amino acids, and other phytochemicals, it’s no surprise that studies suggest ashwagandha has medicinal properties that can directly and indirectly prevent and treat a number of diseases.5 In fact, ashwagandha is often referred to as Indian ginseng because it is used to treat so many different conditions, just as ginseng is in Traditional Chinese Medicine.6

Even ashwagandha’s potential commercial use in boosting the immune systems in dairy cattle, which decreases the incidence of painful mastitis and reduced milk production, has indirect health benefits to humans.7 A fairly common occurrence, this infection is typically treated with antibiotics, which can contribute to the growing antibiotic resistance in many human pathogens.7 Ashwagandha also appears to have antibacterial and antiviral properties of its own, even against multiple-drug resistant strains of these microbes.8-9

Traditional Medical Uses

Ashwagandha Medical Uses





Brain Health



ED and Loss of Libido


Fatigue and Weakness

Heart Disease


Immune System Support



Neurodegenerative Diseases


Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Skin Wounds


Traditional Medical Uses of Ashwagandha

While it was historically domesticated as a medicinal plant in India, this herb grew and was traditionally used as a rejuvenative herb across the ancient Mediterranean countries into Palestine, Asia, and much of the Arab countries and also into Africa.10

In historical Ayurvedic texts, the root was thought to offer the strength and sexual virility of a horse.1,11 Several...

References: University of Maryland Medical Center: Anaphylaxis
Article reviewed by Mia Paul Last updated on: Aug 24, 2010
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