Botanical name: Withania
somniferum. AKA Wild Cherry.
Ashwagandha, which belongs to
the pepper family, is found in India and Africa. The roots of ashwagandha are
Ashwagandha has been used in connection with Immune
function, osteoarthritis and stress.
The health applications for
ashwagandha in traditional Indian and Ayurvedic medicine are extensive. Of
particular note is its use against tumors, inflammation (including arthritis),
and a wide range of infectious diseases. The shoots and seeds are
also used as food and to thicken milk in India. Traditional uses of ashwagandha
among tribal peoples in Africa include fevers and inflammatory conditions.
Ashwagandha is frequently a constituent of Ayurvedic formulas, including
a relatively common one known as shilajit.
Active constituents: The
constituents believed to be active in ashwagandha have been extensively
studied. Compounds known as withanolides are believed to account for the
multiple medicinal applications of ashwagandha. These molecules are
steroidal and bear a resemblance, both in their action and appearance, to the
active constituents of Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) known as ginsenosides.
Indeed, ashwagandha has been called Indian ginseng by some.
Ashwagandha and its withanolides have been extensively researched in a
variety of animal studies examining effects on immune function, inflammation,
and even cancer. Ashwagandha stimulates the activation of immune system
cells, such as lymphocytes. It has also been shown to inhibit
inflammation and improve memory in animal experiments. Taken
together, these actions may support the traditional reputation of ashwagandha
as a tonic or adaptogen - an herb with multiple, nonspecific actions that
counteract the effects of stress and generally promote wellness.
Some experts recommend 36 grams
of the dried root, taken each day in capsule or tea form.
prepare a tea, 3/41 1/4 teaspoons (36 grams) of ashwagandha root
are boiled for 15 minutes and cooled; 3 cups (750 ml) may be drunk
Alternatively, tincture 1/23/4 teaspoon (24 ml)
three times per day, is sometimes recommended.
No significant side effects
have been reported with ashwagandha. The herb has been used safely by children
in India. Its safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding is unknown. At
the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions with
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