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Monograph of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
c. Susun S Weed


Other names: wintercherry, Indian ginseng

The low-cost ginseng-like herb that calms you down.

Ashwagandha is the most highly acclaimed of all the Rasayana. It has been in constant use for over 2500 years. Particularly good for balancing Vata. The best adaptogen for people who can’t stop.

Family: Solanaceae; Related medicinal plants: goji berries

Description: A tender perennial shrub, 1-3 feet tall, with branches that extend radially from a central stem. The leaves – which are oval, about 5 inches long, and a dull green – are medicinal. So are the long, brown, tuberous roots. The flowers are small, green, bell-shaped. The ripe fruit is orange-red.

Origins: Somnifera means "sleep-inducing" in Latin. Ashwagandha means “strong as a horse.”

Dose of the Root or of the Root and Leaf (Best used whole or as an extract from the whole plant): 3–6 grams of the dried powder, taken daily in food. Traditionally the powder is mixed with warm milk and honey, and taken before bed. Tea = teaspoon of dried herb/root boiled for 15 minutes and cooled; 3 cups drunk daily. Tincture = 1/2–3/4 teaspoon (2–4 ml) three times per day. Cautions: None.

Taste: Sweet and warm, carmel like

Properties: Adaptogen, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antitumor, anti-stress, immunomodulatory, neuroprotective, slightly sedative, hemopoetic, and rejuvenating. Exerts a positive influence on the endocrine, cardiopulmonary, and central nervous systems. Stimulates the activation of immune system cells, such as lymphocytes.

Constituents: Alkaloids, steroidal lactones (such as tropine and cuscohygrine), saponins, iron.

  • The active steroidal withanolides have been extensively studied. They bear a resemblance, both in action and appearance, to ginsenosides, the active constituents of Asian ginseng.

  • Tropine is a derivative of tropane. Benzatropine and etybenzatropine are derivatives of tropine. It is also a building block of atropine, an anticholinergic drug of the muscarinic antagonist class.

  • Cuscohygrine is a pyrrolidine alkaloid which can be extracted from coca or plants of the family Solanaceae, including Atropa belladonna (deadly nightshade), Datura inoxia and D. stramonium (jimson weed). Cuscohygrine usually comes with other, more potent alkaloids like atropine or cocaine.

  • Alkaloids include ashwagandhine, ashwaganidhine, and somniferine.

  • Ashwagandha withanolides: withanolide A, withanolide B, withaferin A, and withanone, 12-deoxy withastramonolide, withanoside V, withanoside IV. Withanolide glycosides higher in leaf. Withanolide D can provide beneficial effects in leukemia chemotherapy. Withaferin A has shown potential against glioblastomas.

  • Trihydroxy-oxowitha-trienolide compounds act synergistically to enable changes in gene expression within the cell.

  • The leaves contain the steroidal lactones, withanolides, notably withaferin A. Strong anti-tumor qualities.

Ashwagandha Benefits

  • Hyped-up and finding it impossible to relax and slow down.

  • A premier herb for against all negative conditions associated with aging.

  • Counters all immune-compromising diseases

  • Causes many cancer cells to self-destruct

Deepens sleep

Strengthens muscles

Improves reproductive tissues.

Increases fertility

Improves memory/concentration

Counters depression, lethargy and anxiety

Increases physical/mental stamina

Increases vitality.

Boosts immune system

Lowers cortisol levels

Rejuvenating properties

For thyroid health

Reduces blood sugar

Reduces cholesterol levels

Improves resistance to a wide range of infectious diseases.

Significantly alters levels of leukocytes, lymphocytes, neutrophils, immune complexes, and immunoglobulins A, G, and M.

Ashwagandha Has Been Used to Counter

arthritis pain

skin cancer

liver toxicity



chronic stress



heart disease






skin cancer



nervous disorders

gyne problems


Alzheimer’s disease





weak digestion

fluid retention

low libido


colon cancer

Some of over fifty different studies conducted using Ashwaghanda published during 2012-2013: (

  • Asha Hospital in Hyderbad: a study of 64 people with chronic stress, Ashwagandha for two months decreased stress by 44% and decreased depression and/or anxiety by 72%.

  • Tokyo University of Technology: Ashwagandha slows the process of melanocyte stem cell phosphorylation, giving it the potential of blocking skin cancers.

  • Banasthali University: Ashwagandha may protect the liver against lead toxicity.

  • Jamia Hamdard University: Ashwagandha reduces oxidative damage to brain cells– reduces dementia and Alzheimer’s risk.

  • India’s National Brain Research Center: Ashwa. reduces beta-amyloid peptides within the brain.

  • India’s Central Food Technological Research Institute: Ashwagandha inhibited oxidative brain cell damage and reversed mechanisms related to Parkinson’s disease.

  • Defense Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences: Ashwagandha supports memory and helps prevent nerve cell degeneration among rats.

  • India’s Cochin University of Science and Technology: Ashwagandha increased spatial memory and decreased oxidative brain stress among rats.

  • Guru Nanak Dev University: Eight weeks of Ashwagandha supplementation increased endurance, respiration capacity and metabolic efficiency among cycling athletes.

  • University of Delhi College of Medical Sciences found that Ashwagandha may reduce diabetes, and has anti-hyperglycemic properties.

  • Texas’ Baylor University: Ashwagandha reduced inflammation related to type I diabetes.

  • Jamia Hamdard University’s Pharmacy Faculty: Ashwagandha reduces oxidative stress related to type 2 diabetes.

  • India’s Banaras Hindu University: Ashwagandha significantly reduced type 2 diabetes symptoms in human clinical studies.

  • College of Pharmacy at University of Hawaii: Ashwagandha inhibits cancer-related cytokines.

  • Indian Institute of Technology: Ashwagandha compounds inhibited proteins involved in Leishmaniasis. Tokushima Bunri University: Ashwagandha kills Leishmania major cells.

  • Colorado State University: Ashwagandha protects the heart from oxidative damage.

  • Malaysia’s University Sains: Ashwagandha reduces fatigue and increases general well-being among patients who were undergoing chemotherapy.

  • Chonbuk National University in the Republic of Korea: Ashwagandha reduced populations of Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus – oral bacteria known to be at primary agents of tooth decay and periodontal disease.

  • Pakistan’s Quaid-i-Azam University: Ashwagandha inhibited cancer cells from growing.

  • India’s National Research Institute of Ayurvedic Drug Development: Ashwagandha combined with other Ayurvedic herbs reduced symptoms among tuberculosis patients.

  • ICMR Advanced Centre for Reverse Pharmacology in Traditional Medicine: in a 30-day clinical trial among 18 healthy volunteers, 750-1250 milligrams of Ashwagandha per day reduced cholesterol, improved sleep and increased muscle strength.

  • Louisiana State University: Ashwagandha inhibits cancer tumor growth.

  • India’s Central Drug Research Institute: coagulanolide from Ashwagandha increased glucose tolerance and decreased fasting blood glucose among mice.

  • Ayurvedic Hospital in Ahmedabad: Ashwagandha significantly reduced coughing, fever and other symptoms of tuberculosis.

  • Malaysia’s Universiti Sains medical school: Ashwagandha inhibits several pathogenic bacteria, especially Salmonella.

  • India’s Bankura Sammilani Medical College: Ashwagandha may treat depression.

  • Germany’s University of Tuebingen: Ashwagandha reduces oxidative stress and alters gene expression to help cells with energy production.

  • Brooklyn’s Woodhull Medical Center: Ashwagandha increases circulating cortisol levels and improves insulin sensitivity. This effect was also found for those with adrenal insufficiency issues or even congenital adrenal hyperplasia – a birth defect of the adrenal glands.

  • South Korea’s Keimyung University: Ashwagandha inhibits tumor growth and stimulates the killing of renal cancer cells.

  • University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine: Ashwagandha inhibits breast cancer cell migration.

  • Detroit’s Wayne State University: Ashwagandha suppresses the growth of mesothelioma, a lung disease most prominently associated with asbestos toxicity.

  • Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz University: Ashwagandha helps protect the heart and cardiovascular system from oxidative radicals.

  • Guru Nanak Dev University: Ashwagandha reduces nerve cell death from oxidative damage.

  • South Korea’s Kyungpook National University: Ashwagandha reduces inflammation and cell adhesion molecules among blood vessels.

  • R.K.D.F. College of Pharmacy: Ashwagandha may effectively treat obsessive compulsive disorder.

  • Panjab University: Ashwagandha inhibits pro-inflammatory cytokines and reactive oxygen species within the bloodstream.

  • Egypt’s National Center for Radiation Research: Ashwagandha protects against radiation exposure.

  • Indian Institute of Technology:  neuroprotective withanolide A inhibits acetylcholinesterase.

  • Council of Scientific and Industrial Research Center: Ashwagandha significantly stimulates the immune system.

  • Ashwagandha root and leaf extract quells knee pain in study

(21-Dec-2016) 60 subjects, mean age 59, mostly men, took placebo, 125 mg or 250 mg ashwagandha

within 4 weeks: reduction in swelling and pain, increase in mobility; higher the dose, the better the response

Stories, Lore, Magic:

  • In Ayurveda, the berries and leaves are applied externally to tumors, tubercular glands, carbuncles, and ulcers.

  • In Yemen, where it is known as ubab, the dried leaves are ground to a powder from which a paste is made and used in the treatment of burns and wounds.

  • The berries can be used as a substitute for rennet in cheesemaking.

  • Used among tribal peoples in Africa include fevers and inflammatory conditions.

  • The shoots and seeds are also used as food and to thicken milk in India.

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