Sometimes called Indian ginseng, Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), is a major Ayurvedic herb. It is used for a youthful mental and physical state, as well as happiness. It is available as a powder that can be taken with ghee or honey. In Ayurveda it is given as a tonic for children and for debilities in old age.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, a group of healing agents which relieve stress by working on the glands. It is considered to be as strong as eleuthero (previously Siberian ginseng or Eleutherococcus senticosus) and Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng).
Indian ginseng raises the serum corticosterone level, and treatment with Withania prevents a drop in cortisol levels in the adrenals seen with stress. A depletion of ascorbic acid levels is also seen in the adrenals with stress, and can be prevented by treatment with ashwagandha prior to stress. Both of these depletions are seen on the swimming stress test of rats without treatment.
Ashwagandha prevents stress ulcers of the gastrointestinal system, and anti-tumor effects are seen in Chinese hamster ovary cancer cells with Ashwagandha. The authors suggest the use of Ashwagandha as an anti-tumor agent and an immunomodulator. It has been used with benefit against fibroid uterine tumors.
In addition, the authors suggest the use of Ashwagandha for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s diseases. It has a calming effect similar to the pharmaceutical Lorazepam and is called a “mood stabilizer”. It also has anti-arthritic effects.
CONCLUSION: Ashwagandha is a powerful herb, useful for many conditions. The traditional uses of Ashwagandha are currently being verified by scientific studies, and it is useful in stress disorders, neuronal conditions and cancers.
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