Botanical Description / Habitat
Found throughout the drier regions of India as far west as Israel.
An erect evergreen shrub, related to the tomato and potato as well as Nightshade.
It produces berries.
Fresh berries, dried fruits and roots are used.
Historical Properties & Uses
Ashwagandha has long held a prominent place in ancient Indian systems of medicine, notably Ayurveda.
It has been called the "Indian ginseng", being a general tonic especially for men. (The name refers to the horse.)
The fresh berries have been used as an emetic.
Dried fruits and roots are reputed to be: anti-inflammatory diuretic and sedative.
Dried fruits and roots have been used specifically for liver complications.
Leaf extracts have also been effective against inflammation in animal studies.
Ashwagandha has been used for tuberculosis and tumors.
Ashwagandha has been used, topically, for swelling and ulcerations.
Method of Action
Ashwagandha contains an essential oil (ipuranol) and a number of steroid lactones: withanolides e.g. beta-sitosterol.
No diuretic activity has been demonstrated with animals.
Animal experiments have confirmed anti-inflammatory activity.
The leaves have demonstrated antibacterial action. (Das, 1964)
There may also be a protective effect on the liver. (Sudhir, 1986)
Recent interest has surrounded its immunosuppressant activity. (e.g. Bahr, 1982 and Shobat, 1978)
Drug Interactions & Precautions
Extracts of Ashwagandha potentiated the sleeping time induced by pentobarbitone (see under barbiturates).
Extracts also increased the lethal effects of amphetamine.
Various effects have been produced experimentally with animals: CNS depressant (i.e. sedative), hypotensive activity, respiratory stimulation and smooth muscle relaxant.
This involved an acetone extract.
Safety Factors & Toxicity
Alcoholic and aqueous extracts have had no reported neurologic effects.
Various effects have been produced experimentally with animals: CNS depressant (i.e. sedative), hypotensive activity, respiratory stimulation and smooth muscle relaxant. This involved an acetone extract.
Preparation & Administration
In America and Europe, this herb is usually obtained in a commercial product.Abstracts
A typical herbal supplement in the US may comprise:
One 300 mg standardized capsule (1.5% Withanolides & 1% alkaloids) daily.
Note: This Herbal Preparation information is a summary of data from books and articles by various authors. It is not intended to replace the advice or attention of health care professionals.
Bahr, V & Hansel, R: Planta Med. 1982, 44:32.
Battacharya, SK et al., Phytotherap. Res. 1987, 1:32.
Budhiraja, RD et al., Planta Medica, 1977, 32:154.
Chakraborti, SK et al., Experientia, 1974, 30:852.
Das, JM & Kurup, PA: Indian J. Biochem. Biophys. 1964, 1:157.
Fontaine, R & Erdoes, A: Planta Medica, 1976, 30:242.
Shobat, B et al., Biomed. 1978, 28:18.
Sudhir, S et al., Planta med. 1986, 36:61.
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