Common name: Ashwaganda
Other Names: Indian Ginseng, Winter Cherry, Ayurvedic Ginseng
Latin Binomial: Withania somnifera
Parts Used: Leaves and Root
Ashwaganda has a long history of use in India and is one of the most important herbs in the practice of Ayurveda. It is a tonic for vitality and to strengthen overall ability to resist chronic illness as well as its ability to assist in recovery from a chronic illness. It also has adaptogenic capability, which increases the threshold of stress the body can withstand before devolving into a state of inflammation or sickness. This threshold increase is observed in recovery from nervous tension, memory loss. Studies have shown that one of its triterpene chemical constituents, exhibits cholinesterase inhibition. Cholinesterase is an enzyme that dulls neurotransmission to nerve fibers. Therefore, by inhibiting this enzyme, the herb enables cognitive enhancement. For this reason, the herb is suspected to be effective for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (Grover, et.al., 2012); studies continue.
It also has a high iron content which is essential for blood production and distribution of oxygen to the issues, therefore, making it useful in cases of anemia. There has been much evidence found of its effectiveness in inhibiting the growth of cancer cells in humans. It has also been used to increase male fertility and virility (Tahvilzadeh, et.al., 2016), relief of stress and anxiety (Pratte, et.al., 2014), and reduction of gray hair.
- Alkaloids (sedative, reduce blood pressure, and lower heart rate)
- Triterpenes, consists of steroidal lactones that exhibit anti-tumor and hepatoprotective actions (Pengelly, 2004)
- Mild Sedative
Body Organs Acted Upon
- Blood Tissue (hemoglobin)
When and How to Use It
Ashwaganda root can be prepared as a decoction of 2-4g of the dried root in 1 cup of water, twice per day. You may also chew 1g of root for the same effect. The powdered root can be taken in capsule form of 1-2g per day with water. Although the leaves are not widely used, the dried powdered leaf may be prepared as an infusion using ½ tsp in 1 cup of water once per day. Dosage should be limited to approximately 8g per day.
Gastrointestinal upset has been reported with large, yet undefined, doses. There is conflicting documentation regarding the safety of ashwaganda during pregnancy, therefore, erring on the side of caution, it is best not to take during pregnancy or lactation.
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