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Biological Name


Withania Somnifera, Physalis flexuosa


Other Names:


Ashwagandha, winter cherry, Ashgandh

Parts Used



Active Compounds


Alkaloids and withanoloids

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. (Some people do call ashwagandha “Indian ginseng”.)

Generally, ashwagandha stimulates the immune system. It has also been shown to inhibit inflammation and improve memory. Taken together, these actions support the traditional reputation of ashwagandha as a tonic or adaptogen. It counteracts the effects of stress and generally promotes wellness.



This herb has been used for more than 4000 years in India. It is a very important herb in ayurveda, the traditional Indian medicine. It is used for 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.

Remedies For


Aphrodisiac, astringent, nervine, rejuvenative, sedative, tonic

This herb is useful for:

Alzheimer’s disease
HIV support
immune function
mental function

Ayurvedic practitioners use this herb for the following:
AIDS, general debility, nerve exhaustion, convalescence, problems of the elderly, sexual debility, emaciation, memory loss, muscle energy loss, marrow, overwork, tissue deficiency (promotes tissue healing), insomnia, paralysis, MS, weak eyes, rheumatism, skin afflictions, cough, difficult breathing, anemia, fatigue, infertility, swollen glands, immune system problems, alcoholism, lumbago.
Known as Indian ginseng, builds marrow and sernen; inhibits aging; one of the best herbs for the mind (clarity, nurturing).
Externally: skin diseases, obstinate ulcers, carbuncles, rheumatic swellings. For women, it stabilizes fetus, regenerates hormones, cancer- strengthens one from and for chemotherapy.

Here are some applications of this herb from western herbalists:

Mental Problems Improved:
This is perhaps one of the most promising applications of this herb. In a reported study, this herb was given to 30 mental patients suffering from anxiety neurosis in doses of 40 ml/day. (in two equally divided doses.) for one month. At the end of the month, most of the anxiety disorders, panic attacks and similar mood phobias, had disappeared. In trials by American psychiatrists, this herb has been found useful for the treatment of manic depression, alcoholic paranoia, and schizophrenia. Up to 4 capsules were given daily, in between meals, for 45-60 days with very good results. Learning enhancement and memory retention improved substantially when ashwagandha (3 capsules), gotu kola (2 capsules), and ginkgo biloba (2 capsules) were taken regularly on a daily basis.

Anti-Tumor, Anti-Inflammatory Effects Noticed:
Studies with rats and human volunteers have shown that ashwagandha is helpful in putting cancer tumors into regression (used as an alcoholic root extract) and in reducing inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis. The plant's high steroid content was found to be more potent than hydrocortisone in animal and human arthritis. (Use 3000 to 6000 mg of the root powder or 500 mg 3 times daily of the alcoholic extract.)



A native of India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, Ashwagandha is an important herb used in Ayurveda. The name comes from the peculiar odor of this herb, akin to that of a sweaty horse.

Ashwagandha is an erect branched shrub with  greenish or lurid yellow flowers. Ashwagandha in India is akin to ginseng in other parts of the orient. Both are touted for their longevity enhancing and sexually stimulating properties.



Preparation: Decoctions, ghee, oil, powder (1/4-3 tsp.)
For cancer and other serious illness, use one or more ounces daily.
Some experts recommend 1–2 grams of the whole herb, taken each day in capsule
form (2-5 per day) or tea form.

To prepare a tea, ashwagandha roots are boiled for 15 minutes and cooled; 3 cups (750 ml) should be drunk daily. Tincture or fluid extracts can be used in the amount of 2–4 ml three times per day.



Do not take if congested. No significant side effects have been reported with ashwagandha.

The herb has been used safely by children in India. Its safety during pregnancy and lactation are unknown.

Consult a physician before using this herb for serious illnesses such as cancer and AIDS. No proof of its effectiveness is known for these uses at this time.

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