Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) :

Latin Name
Withania somnifera (Physalis flexuosa L., Physalis somnifera L.)
Sanskrit Name
Hayagandha, Vajigandha
English Name
Winter Cherry and Indian Ginseng
Common Name
Asgandh, Angarberu, Hiremaddina-gida, Amukkuram, Amukkaramkizangu, Pennerugadda
Ayurvedic Properties and Action:
Tikta, Kasaya
Rasayana, Vatakaphapaha, Balya, Vajikarana

It contains various alkaloids such as withanine, somniferine, somnine, somniferinine, withananine, pseudo-withanine, tropine, pseudo-tropine, Tropanol, 3-a-gloyloxytropane, choline, cuscohygrine, isopelletierine, anaferine and anahydrine. It also contains glycoside such as acyl steryl glucoside viz. Sitoindoside VII and sitoindoside VIII Majority of the constituents are withanolides (Steroidal lactones with ergostane skeleton) and alkaloids. These include Withanone, Withaferin A, Withanolide I, II, III, A, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, WS-I, P and S, withasomidienone, withanolide C.

The free amino acids include aspartic acid, glycine, tyrosine, alanine, valine, proline, hydroxyproline, tryptophan, glutamic acid, cysteine and cystine and Iron.

Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal important components

Pharmacological Actions:
Adaptogenic, nervine sedative, CNS depressant, hepatoprotective, antistress and GABA mimetic, anti-stress, immune system stimulants, antioxidant, antibacterial, antibiotic, astringent, deobstruent, tonic, stimulates the central nervous system, antihepatotoxic, antiinflammatory and antimicrobial.

Medicinal Use:
It acts mainly on the nervous systems, having a rejunative effect on the body and is used to improve vitality and aid recovery after chronic illness .

It is an aphrodisiac and stimulant, and used for impotence, in general debility, nervous exhaustion, loss of muscular energy and spermatorrhoea.

It is used to tone the uterus after a miscarriage, in treating post-partum difficulties, infertility, strengthening the female reproductive system, renowned as a blood tonic, is especially beneficial in gynecology for deficient blood conditions, anemia and irregular menstruation.

It is used as an antiinflammatory drug for swellings, tumours, scrofula arthritis and rheumatism; and as a sedative and hypnotic in anxiety neurosis.

It is used to treat anorexia, nervous exhaustion, senile debility, aging, insomnia, epilepsy, rheumatism, wasting diseases, memory loss, and multiple sclerosis, improvement of mental functions.

Clinical / experimental study:
Studies indicate WS may be useful as a growth promoter and Haematinic and as a general health tonic in growing children, in younger as well as in older populations.

Isolated constituents of Withania somnifera (Sitoindosides VII-X and withaferin-A) increased cortical muscarinic acetylcholine receptor capacity, partly explaining the cognition-enhancing and memory-improving effects traditionally attributed to Ashvagandha.

Withanolide-A is significantly regenerate both axons and dendrites, in addition it reconstruct pre and post synapses in the neurons so useful for therapeutic treatment of neurodegenerative disease as it is able to reconstruct neural networks.

Root extract of WS was tested for immunomodulatory effects in three myelosuppression models in mice: cyclophosphamide, azathioprin, or prednisolone. Significant increases (p<0.05) in hemoglobin concentration, red blood cell count, white blood cell count, platelet count, and body weight were observed in WS-treated mice compared to untreated control mice. The authors also reported significant increases in hemolytic antibody responses toward human erythrocytes which indicated immunostimulatory activity.

Ashwagandha is also useful for strengthening the female reproductive system for which it is commonly combined with another Ayurvedic herb called shatavari (Asparagus racemosa), renowned as a blood tonic, is especially beneficial in gynecology for deficient blood conditions, anemia and irregular menstruation. The uniqueness of Ashwagandha is that it achieves its results through strengthening the nervous system and potentiates reproductive hormones.



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2 responses to “Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

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