Common Name : Ashwagandha
Botanical Name : WITHANIA SOMNIFERA
Family Name : SOLANACEAE
Other Name : Asagandh, Winter Cherry, Indian Ginseng
Part Used : Root, Leaves and Seeds
Habitat : It is distributed in drier parts of India upto 5,500 m. The plant is widely distributed in North-Western India and extends to the mountain regions of Sub-Himalayan Territory. The plant is distributed throughout the drier subtropical regions of India.
A branched erect shrub, 0.3 – 1.5 m. Leaves 5-10 x 2.5-5 cm and ovate. Flowers greenish or lurid yellow, about 5 together in an umbellate cyme. Roots 20-30 cm long and 6-12 mm in diameter, with a few (2 to 3) lateral roots of slightly smaller size; straight, unbranched. Outer surface is buff to grey-yellow with longitudinal wrinkles and in the center soft, solid mass with scattered pores.
This herb is used for 4000 years plus 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. In Ayurvedic medicine, this herb is considered the "Ginseng of India", said to "protect the organism from illness through maintaining the healthy balance of physical energies." Like other adaptogens, ashwagandha root exhibits an anti-stress effect, an immunomodulatory effect; it can enhance both short and long term memory.
The principle constituents of its roots Compounds known as withanolides are believed to account for the multiple medicinal applications of ashwagandha. These molecules are steroidal lactones with erggostane, which include withanone, withaferin, withanolides, withasomidienone, withanolide C and alkanoids about 0.2 % and bear a resemblance, both in their action and appearance, to the active constituents of Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) known as ginsenosides.
Uses : It is Tonic, Abortifacient, Astringent, Deobstruent, Nervine, Aphrodisiac and Sedative. It is official Indian Pharmacoepeia. It gives vitality and vigour and helps in building greater endurance. It has been used in diseases such as rheumatism, leprosy and arthritis. Roots of the plant show antitumor and radiosensitizing effects in animal model. Total alkaloid fraction of the root extract exhibit hypotensive bradycardic and respiratory stimulant activities in dogs. It shows relaxant and antispasmodic effects against several plasmogens on intenstinal, uterine, bronchial, tracheal and blood vascular muscles. Withanolides possess remarkable antibacterial, antitumor, anti-arthritic and immunosuppressive.