Withania sominifera (WS) is known commonly as Ashwagandha, Indian ginseng, Poison gooseberry or Winter cherry. It is a plant of the Solanaceae or nightshade family (R).
In Sanskrit, Ashwagandha, the Indian name for Withania Sominifera, means “odor of the horse”, probably originating from the odor of its root which resembles that of a sweaty horse (R).
Ashwagandha is also referred as “Indian ginseng”, since it is used in India, in a way similar to how ginseng is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a large variety of human diseases (R).
In Ayurveda, Ashwagandha is considered a “Rasayana” herb, an elixir that works, in a nonspecific, global fashion, to increase human health and longevity (R).
It is also considered an “Adaptogen”, a nontoxic medication that normalizes physiological functions disturbed by chronic stress, through correction of imbalances in the neuroendocrine and immune systems (R).
Although used as a broad spectrum remedy in India for centuries, and mentioned as the “Queen of Ayurveda” Ashwagandha has only recently been under investigation in laboratory settings (R).
In Ayurveda, the fresh roots are sometimes boiled in milk prior to drying to leach out undesirable constituents (R).
The berries are used as a substitute for Rennet, to coagulate milk in cheese making (R).
Milk supplemented with Ashwagandha has been reported to increase total proteins and body weight.
A decoction of Ashwagandha root is used as nutrient and health restorative agent among postpartum ladies (R).
Ashwagandha is said to thicken and increase the nutritive value of the breastmilk when given to nursing mothers (R).
Below, I give a bunch of different good options to buy Ashwagandha, but some people want to to know which one I take.
Ashwagandha improved oxidative damage induced by streptozotocin in rats (R).
Chemoprotective activity of Ashwagandha may be due to its antioxidant and detoxifying properties (R).
Ashwagandha suppressed Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells (MDSC) and Tumor-Associated Macrophages (TAMs) (R).
Ashwagandha extract also showed an enhancement in activity of macrophages (R).
Joe’s Experience: Although Ashwagandha increases Th-1 (R), it’s more of an immune balancer. Ashwagandha is one of the Th1 boosting supplements that I use that doesn’t cause me any problems.
Ashwagandha is specifically used as a tonic to calm the nerves (nervine) (R).
Effects in humans:
Root extract of Ashwagandha at high concentrations safely and effectively improved resistance towards stress and thereby improved self-assessed quality of life in human subjects (R).
Ashwagandha showed a significant decrease in cortisol levels and reduction in stress when compared to placebo (R) (R). Cortisol, the body’s stress hormone, contributes to muscle loss and weakness, wrinkles, and cognitive impairment.
Effects in animals:
Ashwagandha belongs to a sub-group of “Rasayanas” (or elixir) known as “Medhyarasayanas” (Medhya refers to the mind and mental/intellectual capacity) (R).
Ashwagandha has a cognition promoting effect. It is useful in children with memory deficit and also prevents memory loss in old age people (R).
Relaxation, a benefit derived from the Ashwagandha’s stress-fighting effects, also improves long-term visual memory (R).
Ashwagandha reduces fat cell viability and synthesis and also induces fat cell death (R).
Ashwagandha root extract can be used for body weight management in adults (R).
Supplementation of Ashwagandha decreased body fat percentage in people (R).
Ashwagandha (Withania sominifera glycoprotein) showed activity against most of the phytopathogenic fungi and bacteria tested (R).
Ashwagandha inhibited fungal growth by inhibiting spore germination and hyphal growth (R).
Ashwagandha showed potent antifungal activity against Aspergillus flavus, Fusarium oxysporum and F. verticilloides (R).
Ashwagandha showed antibacterial activity against Clvibacter michiganensis subsp. michiganensis (R).
Ashwagandha was active against Staphylococcus aureus (SA) and Methicilin Resistance Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) (R).
Water extract of Ashwagandha inhibited the growth of gram negative N.gonorrhoea (R).
Oral administration of the water extracts successfully destroyed Salmonellainfection in mice (R).
Water extract of Ashwagandha showed activity against Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (HSV-1) cell cultures (R).
Ashwagandha root extract had antiviral property against infectious Bursal Disease virus in cell cultures (R).
Ashwagandha might be helpful in improving the HIV-1 associated neurocognitive impairments (R).
Ashwagandha is helpful in the treatment of Leishmaniasis (R).
Alcohol and water extracts of Ashwagandha are used to treat Malaria (R).
Ashwagandha showed a parasite suppressive effect on rodent malarial parasites (R).
Ashwagandha is a potent and relatively safe radiosensitizer/chemotherapeutic agent (R).
Ashwagandha root extract significantly reduced the rate of cell division in breast tumors (R).
Alcohol extract of Ashwagandha leaves showed 98% growth inhibitionof colon cancer cell lines (HCT-15) (R).
Ashwagandha leaves (Withaferin A, Withanone, Withanolide A) induce growth arrest and differentiation in brain cells and help in treating Glioblastoma (R).
Ashwagandha has anticancer activity against neuroblastoma cells (IMR-32) (R).
Ashwagandha root (Withanolide sulfoxide) inhibits human stomach cancer cell lines (R).
Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) inhibits tumor Proteosome in human prostate cancer cell cultures (R).
Ashwagandha is found effective against urethane induced lung-adenoma in mice (R).
Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) inhibited the growth of human kidney cancer cell lines (R).
Ashwagandha was effective in treating human head and neck squamous carcinoma (R).
Long term treatment with Ashwagandha controlled dermatosarcoma (R).
Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) inhibited cancer gene activation and mitochondrial dysfunction in skin epidermal cells (R).
Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) exhibited anticancer activity against pancreatic cell lines (targets Hsp 90) (R).
Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) is effective in the treatment and prevention of cervical cancer (R).
Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) decreased the expression of HPV cancer genes, resulting in the death of cervical cancer cells (R).
Alcoholic extract of Ashwagandha root had a protective effect against Dalton’s Ascitic Lymphoma (DAL) (R).
Ashwagandha had anti-tumor effect on Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cell carcinoma (R).
Ashwagandha slows down tumor growth and increases survival time (R).
Ashwagandha stimulates the generation of cytotoxic T lymphocytes, to reduce tumor growth (R).
Ashwagandha (metabolites of its constituents) when taken for 7 days, promoted the growth of nerves (R).
Alcohol extract of Ashwagandha promoted the formation of dendrites (R).
Ashwagandha is also useful for neuro-muscular co-ordination (R).
Ashwagandha has potential neuroprotective role for acute stress in rats (R).
Ashwagandha root extract could be useful for the treatment of drug induced dyskinesia (abnormality or impairment of voluntary movement) (R).
Ashwagandha, also showed neurite extension in normal and damaged cortical neurons (R).
Ashwagandha (Alcoholic extract) was effective against scopalamine-induced amnesia in mouse and brain cell culture models (R).
There are several studies which show that Ashwagandha slows, stops, reverses or removes neuritic atrophy and synaptic loss (R).
Orally administered Ashwagandha (Withanoside IV) may improve neuronal dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease (R).
Ashwagandha significantly reversed ibotenic acid induced cognitive defects in Alzheimer’s disease model (R).
Ashwagandha root extract showed an improvement in the behavioral, anatomical and the biochemical deformities in Parkinsonian mice (R).
A combination herbal product containing Ashwagandha may improve attention and impulse control in children with ADHD. The effect of Ashwagandha alone is unclear.
Constituents of Ashwagandha are demonstrated to exhibit a favourable “tonic” effect on heart (R).
Ashwagandha improved diabetes-induced testicular dysfunctions in prepubertal rats (R).
Ashwagandha could prevent glycation induced Diabetes (R).
Withaferin A is partially responsible for Ashwagandha’s anti-diabetic activity (R).
Ashwagandha (1000 mg/kg/oral) produced significant pain relief for rats experiencing heat induced by hot plate method (R).
Ashwagandha is effective in the management of menopausal syndrome (R).
It stimulates the hormonal glands and helps regulate the secretion of hormones during menopause (R).
Ashwagandha is also effective in reducing symptoms such as hot flashes, mood fluctuations and anxiety (R).
Ashwagandha root extract stimulates thyroidal activity and also enhances the antiperoxidation of liver tissue (R).
Ashwagandha relaxes the mind and decreases anxiety, thus stabilizing the mood in patients with behavioral disturbances (R), including menopause.
Ashwagandha was one of the components of a polyherbal Ayurvedic preparation called “Testo” (at a concentration of 25 mg) which showed a significant relief in patients with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
Ashwagandha is best for treating Amenorrhoea (an abnormal absence of mensturation) (R).
Long-term treatment with Ashwagandha controlled uterine fibroids (non-cancerous growths that develop in the muscular walls of uterus) (R).
Ashwagandha can balance hormones and improve fertility by promoting relaxation and decreasing stress (R).
Ashwagandha improves the functioning of the thyroid gland, which is responsible for regulating reproductive hormones (R).
Ashwagandha is useful for treating Hypogonadism in males (R).
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) plant powder for 60 days significantly improved the weights of testes, accessory sex organs in male rats (R).
Ashwagandha is effective in restoration of spermatozoa in mice (R).
Ashwagandha root extract was effective in increasing sexual competence in male rats (R).
Ashwagandha is also effective on seminal metabolites in infertile males (R).
However, in humans, ashwagandha didn’t improve erectile dysfunction of psychological origin (R).
Ashwagandha stimulates bone formation and is a bone building agent (R).
Ashwagandha improved bone calcification in calcium deficient rats without ovaries (R).
Ashwagandha root powder suppressed gouty arthritis in rats (R).
Water extract of Ashwagandha root powder has chondroprotective effect in osteoarthritis (R).
Ashwagandha stimulated the fuction of Thyroid hormone in female mice (R).
Ashwagandha root extract stimulated thyroidal activity in adult male mice (R).
Water extract of Ashwagandha given for 20 days is effective in treating Hypothyroidism (R).
Ashwagandha also prevents Goitre (an enlarged Thyroid) (R).
Ashwagandha decreased circulating liver enzymes (Glucose-6-phosphatase), glycogen and restored them to normal levels in alloxan-induced diabetic rats (R).
Ashwagandha prevents ionizing irradiation induced liver toxicity disorders in rats (R).
Ashwagandha is protective to liver in rats against heavy metals (R).
An enema of Ashwagandha water extract is prescribed for intestinal ulcers, irritable bowel and rectal bleeding (R).
Ashwagandha also prevents constipation.
Ashwagandha is used to prevent and treat Hemorrhoids (swollen veins located around the anus or in the lower rectum).
Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) could be incorporated as a supportive treatment to improve pancreatic transplant outcome (R).
Ashwagandha is protective against pancreatic cell damage in Type 2 diabetic rats (R).
Ashwagandha root extract protects kidney from gentamycin induced toxicity (R).
Ashwagandha was an effective curative for kidney corpuscles from carbendazim-induced damage (R).
Two teaspoons of Ashwagandha given three times a day helps fast recovery from Bronchitis (R).
Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) prevents white spots on the skin (avoids the risk of hypopigmentation of skin) (R).
Ashwagandha root extracts induced skin darkening in wall lizard melanophores (R).
Ashwagandha suppressed Morphine withdrawal jumps – a sign of development of dependence to morphine (R).
Ashwagandha was effective in the treatment of the genetic disease “Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia” (overgrowth of adrenal gland) in a 57 year-old women (R).
Ashwagandha is also effective in treating symptoms of Down’s Syndrome (R)
There was a significant increase in the body weight of rats treated with Ashwagandha when compared to the control (R).
Ashwagandha was effective in treating patients with Sarcopenia (the loss of muscle mass and strength as a result of ageing) (R).
Ashwagandha appeared safe and strengthened muscle activity (R).
Leaf extracts of Ashwagandha (i-Extract) has anti-aging properties (R).
It is also claimed to have potent aphrodisiac rejuvenative and life prolonging properties (R).
Ashwagandha is also a component of “Siotone” granules which provide significant protection against pentylenetetrazol-, maximal electroshock- and strychnine-induced convulsions (R).
Ashwagandha was able to retard the formation of cataracts in cells (R).
Ashwagandha plant extract also prevents “diabetic cataracts”, an effect caused due to chronically high blood sugar (R).
Ashwagandha has optimum protective effect against selenite-induced oxidative damage lenses (R).
Ashwagandha is widely used to treat conjunctivitis (R).
Ashwagandha leaf extract protects normal human cells against the toxicity of methoxyacetic acid (a major industrial metabolite) (R).
Ashwagandha is also shown to be effective against diesel exhaust, heavy metals and pesticides that harm the various organ systems in the body (R).
Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) triggers suicidal blood cell death (R).
Ashwagandha (leaves) was effective in curing Anaemia prominent in rural women in India (R).
Ashwagandha has the potential to increase red blood cells (R).
Ashwagandha root extract was found to also enhance the total White Blood Cell count (R).
A glycoprotein purified from Ashwagandha inhibited the hyaluronidase activity of cobra (Naja Naja) and viper (Daboi russelii) venoms (R).
Ashwagandha root in combination with other drugs is prescribed for snake venom as well as for scorpion-sting (R).
Ashwagandha is synergistic with Diazepam in protection against social isolation induced behavior in rats (R).
A combination of Maitake mushroom-derived glucan and Ashwagandha extracts, has strong biological effects related to immune health and stress reduction (R).
Ashwagandha along with Anti-tubecular drugs and Chyawanprash(a multi-herbal formulation) were effective in the management of lung Tuberculosis (R).
The Root of Ashwagandha is regarded as a tonic, aphrodisiac, narcotic, diuretic, antiparasitic, astringent, thermogenic and stimulant (R). It is an important ingredient of more than 200 formulations in traditional systems of medicine like Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani (R).
Leaves are bitter and have a characteristic odor, are recommended for fever and painful swellings (R).
The flowers are astringent, depurative, diuretic and aphrodisiac (R).
Seeds are antiparasitic (R).
In Ayurveda, berries and tender leaves are prescribed to be applied externally to tumors, tubercular glands, carbuncles, and ulcers (R).
Other useful parts are stem, fruits, and bark (R).
The biologically active chemical constituents are Alkaloids (isopelletierine, anaferine), Steroidal lactones (Withanolides, Withaferins) (R).
Other components are Saponins (Sitoindoside VII and VIII), and Withanolides (sitoindoside IX and X) (R).
Ashwagandha is also known to structure a wide-range of low molecular weight secondary metabolites like Terpenoids, Flavonoids, Tannins, Phenols, and Resins (R).
The extract of leaves showed the presence of Carbohydrates, Glycosidal sugars, Proteins and Amino acids.
It is also a rich source of Iron (R).
A typical dose of Ashwagandha is 3-6 gms daily of the dried root, and 300-500mg of the extract (R).
Maximum benefits appear when fresh Ashwagandha powder is used (R).
Ashwagandha extract was safe when given orally up to 1500mg/kg to rats for 6 months (R).
Hydroalcoholic extract of Ashwagandha at 2000 mg/kg body weight per day had no adverse effects when given to rats and hence may be considered as non-toxic (R).
Ashwagandha is generally safe when taken in the prescribed dosage range (R).
Ashwgandha use may possibly cause hirsutism (abnormal growth of hair on women’s face) (R).
Ashwagandha is contraindicated during pregnancy since large doses may possess aborting properties (R).
Since Ashwasgandha acts as the mild brain depressant, patients should avoid alcohol, sedative and other anti-anxiety drugs while taking ashwagandha (R).
Since Ashwagandha has the potential to raise thyroid hormone levels, it should not be used by people with hyperthyroidism.
EBSCO, an online database, cautions that Ashwagandha is a sedative and it interacts with sedative drugs.
Ashwagandha is a very gentle herb, but this also means you likely won’t feel that much with one pill. I personally need to take a few pills to feel relaxing properties.
The reason there are many different products you can purchase is because there are many types of Ashwagandha that are good.
Withanolides are the most active ingredients, so getting those in a good percentage (2.5% or more) can be good.
On the other hand, a full spectrum extract as provided by Paradise Herbs makes sense for the average person.
The best approach is try out different brands and see which you do best with. Everyone is different.
At SelfHacked, it’s our goal to offer our readers all the tools possible to get optimally healthy. When I was struggling with chronic health issues I felt stuck because I didn’t have any tools to help me get better. I had to spend literally thousands of hours trying to read through studies on pubmed to figure out how the body worked and how to fix it.
That’s why I decided to create tools that will help others cut down the guesswork: