Also known as Winter Cherry and Indian Ginseng, Ashwagandha is one of the most valuable herbs in the Ayurvedic medical system, dating back more than 3,000 years. Its Sanskrit name Ashwagandha literally means ‘that which has the smell of a horse’, so named because it is said to give the strength and vitality of a horse. Ashwagandha is specific for a wide range of conditions including arthritic inflammation, anxiety, insomnia, respiratory disorders, nervous disorders, gynecological disorders, male infertility and impotence.
It is a herb that enhances resistance to stress, increases stamina and promotes general well-being. Many Western herbalists refer to this herb as “Ayurvedic ginseng” because of its reputation for increasing energy, strength, and stamina, and for its ability to relieve stress. Modern research has found several types of alkaloids in it of which somniferin and withaniol are responsible for its multiple actions. The roots of the plant have been reported to have Alkaloids, Withanolides and many Glycosides.
According to the Ayurvedic system, Ashwagandha is the best herb for balancing Vata in the body. Vata governs all movement in the body, including the movement of nerve impulses throughout the nervous system. When the root is taken as a milk decoction and sweetened with honey or raw sugar, it is used to inhibit ageing and build up strength by catalysing the anabolic processes in the body.
Ashwagandha is also a proven immune-modulator, antioxidant and hormone precursor which tends to regulate important physiological functions. Research has shown that it can protect the activity of immune cells that are exposed to chemicals that would otherwise inhibit their normal function.
The antitumor activity of Withania somnifera is known and that it also enhances the effects of radiation in chemotherapy
Ashwagandha for Sexual Debility: Ashwagandha has an affinity for the reproductive system in both men and women. It is the main rejuvenative of masculine energy used in Ayurveda, improving the quality of reproductive tissues and increasing sexual potency. It has also been used to increase libido and potency, for it is said to bestow upon its user the vitality and strength of a horse. It is often added in herbal supplements that are reputed to improve sexual desire and function. Ashwagandha has also been helping women boost their desire for sex. Long considered India’s most potent sex-enhancing plant, the country’s women have used Ashwagandha for years to rev up their sex drives
Ashwagandha For Stress: Ashwagandha is considered as one of the best remedies for stress. While most adaptogens primarily work by helping the body to mobilize and maintain the physiological response to stress, Ashwagandha appears to work first and foremost by reducing the stress-related excesses of the alarmed nervous system. It improves the body’s ability to maintain physical effort and helps the body adapt to various types of stress. It has also been reported to enhance mental function and memory. It acts to calm the mind and promote sound, restful sleep.
Ashwagandha as a Anti-Inflammatory Agent: Ashwagandha is an adaptogen that contains several active phytochemicals known as glycowithanolides, which research has shown may relax smooth muscles. As a natural anti-inflammatory agent, ashwagandha may help to reduce the discomfort associated with arthritis. Forty-two patients with osteoarthritis were randomly placed in two groups–one receiving ashwagandha, one a placebo. After three months, pain and disability were markedly reduced in the ashwagandha group.
Ashwagandha for Weak Memory: Ashwagandha is a medhya rasayana, helping to enhance mental ability and performance. It helps support memory and problem-solving skills and enhances the coordinated functioning of all aspects of the brain. It corrects loss of memory arising out of long term stress, illness and overwork. A 2001 study in rodents showed ashwagandha had memory boosting ability.
Ashwagandha is also used for High Blood Pressure, as an Immune-Modulator and an AntiOxidant.
Overall Ashwagandha is a promising herb in many different fields.