Withania somnifera, known commonly as ashwagandha, Indian ginseng, poison gooseberry, or winter cherry, is a plant in the Solanaceae or nightshade family. Several other species in the genus Withania are morphologically similar.
Ashwagandha, one of the most powerful herbs in Ayurvedic healing, has been used since ancient times for a wide variety of conditions, and is most well-known for its restorative benefits. In Sanskrit Ashwagandha means “the smell of a horse,” indicating that the herb imparts the vigor and strength of a stallion, and has traditionally been prescribed to help people strengthen their immune system after an illness.Inquiry
Ashwagandha is frequently referred to as “Indian ginseng” because of its rejuvenating properties, even though botanically, ginseng and Ashwagandha are unrelated.
Belonging to the same family as the tomato, Ashwagandha is a plump shrub with oval leaves and yellow flowers. It bears red fruit about the size of a raisin. The herb is native to the dry regions of India, northern Africa, and the Middle East, and today is also grown in more mild climates, including the United States.
- Anxiety. There is some evidence that ashwagandha combined with deep breathing and a specific diet might reduce symptoms of anxiety. The effect of ashwagandha alone in anxiety is unclear.
- Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Some clinical research shows that a combination herbal product containing ashwagandha may improve attention and impulse control in children with ADHD. The effect of ashwagandha alone is unclear.
- A brain condition called cerebellar ataxia. Preliminary research shows that ashwagandha in combination with an alternative form of medicine known as Ayurvedic therapy might improve balance in people with cerebellar ataxia.
- Diabetes. There is some evidence that ashwagandha might reduce bloodsugar levels in people with diabetes.
- High cholesterol. There is some evidence that ashwagandha might reduce cholesterol levels in patients with high cholesterol.
- Male infertility. Some preliminary clinical evidence suggests that ashwagandha might improve sperm quality, but not sperm count, in infertile men. It is not known if taking ashwagandha can actually improve fertility.
- Arthritis. There is preliminary research that ashwagandha taken in a particular supplement (Articulin-F) along with other ingredients might improve arthritis symptoms. The impact of ashwagandha alone in osteoarthritis is unclear.
- Parkinson’s disease. Preliminary research suggests that a combination of herbs including ashwagandha improves
- Parkinson’s symptoms. The effect of ashwagandha alone in Parkinson’s is unknown.
- Liver problems.
- Swelling (inflammation).
- Inducing vomiting.
- Altering immune system function.
- Preventing the signs of aging.
- Other conditions.
Benefits of Ashwagandha
While this short and stout plant has a variety of benefits, the most widely recognized benefit of ashwagandha is its ability to boost the immune system. In fact, several studies have reportedly shown it to greatly boost the immune system, increasing white blood cell production, helping to ward off illness and disease. It’s these benefits that make it a go-to choice in Indian herbal medicine for people in recovery who are looking to rebuild their internal system after illness.
But, immune-system benefits are far from the only perks of this plant. In addition, it is said to impact sexual health—increasing fertility and even sperm count. It has also been traditionally used as an aphrodisiac. However, the roots may actually decrease fertility for women, so be forewarned.
For wound care, the leaves of the plant are said to provide a healing poultice. In addition, the roots have antifungal and antibacterial properties—good for warding off infection.
The benefits of ashwagandha are many; in addition to promoting fertility, aiding in wound care, and boosting the immune system, some other benefits are:
- Sleep aid
- Pain relief
- Eye health
- Heart tonic
- Lowers cholesterol
- Regulates blood sugar
- Reduces depression and anxiety
- Combats stress
- Fights cognitive decline due to brain cell degeneration