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AN AYURVEDIC MEDICINE
Ashwagandha is also known as Withania somniferum, Withania somnifera, Physalis flexuosa, Indian Ginseng, Withania, Poison Gooseberry, Winter Cherry and Avarada. This herb has been used for 4000 years plus in India. It is a very important herb in Ayurveda medicine, the traditional Indian medicine. All parts of the plant are used in herbal medicine. The species name somnifera means "sleep-inducing" in Latin.
Ashwagandha grows as a short, plump-stout shrub that reaches a height of about three feet. This plant has grown to six feet but not very often. Tomentose branches extend radially from a central stem. It is a plant in the Solanaceae or nightshade family and like the tomato, which belongs to the same family, Ashwagandha bears small yellow flowers and red fruit. The fruit is berry like in size and shape, about the size of a raisin. The leaves are oval shaped. The plant's long, brown, tuberous roots are used for medicinal purposes. Several other species in the genus Withania are morphologically similar. The herb is native to the dry regions of India, northern Africa, and the Middle East, but today is also grown in more mild climates, including the United States. This plant grows mostly in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Withania somnifera is cultivated in many of the drier regions of India, such as Mandsaur District of Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Sindh, Gujarat, and Rajasthan. It is also found in Nepal.
Ashwagandha is a Hindi name that means "horse's smell," but the term refers not only to the smell of a horse, but also to a horse's (stallion's) vigor and strength. It has been traditionally prescribed to help people strengthen their immune system after an illness. Some herbalists call this herb Indian Ginseng; since it is used in Ayurvedic medicine in the same way that Ginseng is used in traditional Chinese medicine, because of its rejuvenating properties (although botanically, Ginseng and Ashwagandha are unrelated). In addition, Ashwagandha is also used to enhance sexual potency for both men and women.
Withania somnifera is prone to several pests and diseases. Leaf spot disease caused by Alternaria alternata is the most prevalent disease, which is most severe in the plains of Punjab, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh. Biodeterioration of its pharmaceutically active components during leaf spot disease has been reported. The Choanephora cucurbitarum causes a stem and leaf rot of Withania somnifera. Oxyrachis tarandus, a treehopper, feeds on the apical portions of the stem, making them rough and woody in appearance and brown in color. The apical leaves are shed and the plant gradually dies. The carmine red spider mite (Tetranychus urticae) is the most prevalent pest of the plant in India.
Ashwagandha contains many useful medicinal chemicals. The main chemical constituents are alkaloids and steroidal lactones. These include tropine and cuscohygrine. The leaves contain the steroidal lactones, withanolides, notably withaferin A, which was the first to be isolated from the plant. It also contains choline, fatty acids, and a variety of sugars. While the leaves and the f ruit have valuable therapeutic properties, the root of the Ashwagandha plant is the part most commonly used in Western herbal medicine.
ASHWAGANDHA USES, HEALTH BENEFITS & SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE
In Ayurveda, the Ashwagandha berries and leaves are applied externally to tumors, tubercular glands, carbuncles, and ulcers. The roots are used to prepare the herbal remedy Ashwagandha, which has been traditionally used to treat various symptoms and conditions.
Medical researchers have been studying Ashwagandha with great interest and as of 2013, have carried out 216 studies of its healing benefits summarized below:
- Confers immune system protection.
- Combats the effects of stress.
- Improves learning, memory, and reaction time.
- Reduces anxiety and depression without causing drowsiness.
- Stabilizes blood sugar.
- Lowers cholesterol.
- Reduces brain-cell degeneration.
- Contains anti-malarial properties.
- Offers anti-inflammatory benefits.
Some studies have also found that ashwagandha inhibits the growth of cancer cells in small animals, but further research is needed to determine whether the herb prevents the development of tumors in human beings.
Ashwagandha works well in treating alcoholism, Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss, mental function, improves thinking ability and clarity, and insomnia. It is also used for treating the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) and can help with immune system problems. It decreases pain and swelling caused by inflammation. Ashwagandha works well when used as a tonic during convalescence from cancer, HIV, AIDS, anemia, emaciation, or other debilitating diseases, helping in improving physical movement, increasing endurance and stamina. Therefore it is recommended for people who have undergone surgery and long illnesses to improve well-being and improve fatigue symptoms. It can be used for the treatment of depression as well as vertigo.
Recent studies have demonstrated that Ashwagandha has anti-tumor properties and can help to prevent or slow the development of cancers. It is very effective on the nervous system and the tonic works well in treating breathing difficulties, cough, muscle energy loss, nervous exhaustion, overwork, fatigue, and fights stress.
Ashwagandha is used for carbuncles, lumbago, paralysis, rheumatism and rheumatic swellings, skin afflictions, ulcers, and swollen glands. This herb also promotes tissue regeneration and slows the aging process.
Ashwagandha has been used for more than 2,500 years as a "vitalizer" and is in the same category of adaptogens (endurance enhancer). It is rejuvenating, balancing, strengthening, and calming to the nervous system.
Ashwagandha is also known as an aphrodisiac and helps prevent sterility in males and improve fertility. The leaves and root are narcotic and the root is diuretic, de-obstruent (to unblock pathways), tonic, alterative and aphrodisiac. This herb also has astringent, nervine (soothing the nerves), rejuvenating, and sedative properties.
Ashwagandha is similar to ginseng but far less expensive. Ashwagandha is Ayurvedas superior rejuvenative herb for the muscles, bone marrow and semen. This herb is superior for stress, weakness, tissue deficiency, the elderly, overwork, lack of sleep, nervous exhaustion, sexual debility, problems of old age, loss of memory, loss of muscular energy, insomnia, weak eyes, cough, infertility, glandular swelling. It inhibits ageing and catalyzes the anabolic processes of the body, nurtures and clarifies the mind promoting dreamless sleep. Ashwagandha helps the body adapt to stress, but it also rebuilds the nervous system without stimulating it, a wonderful sleep tonic. In the morning it helps build the immune system and muscular-skeletal systems, both of which are negatively impacted by stress and helps those under stress.
Culinary use includes the berries being used as a substitute for rennet in cheesemaking.
ASHWAGANDHA DOSAGE INFORMATION
Ashwagandha is a member of the nightshade family, but unlike many of its relatives, it is not poisonous to humans.
Typically found and cultivated in India, Ashwagandha has been popularly applied to those with overworked and often hyper-tense lives.
Constituents: Mainly consisting of withanolides, glycosides and several different alkaloids.
Parts Used: Eastern and Western herbal medicine use the root, most notably dried and cut. The berries are mildly toxic to the stomach and gastrointestinal tract. No major studies have released the benefits of the leaf.
Typical Preparations: Tea decoction from the root, liquid herbal extract, herbal capsules (non-standardized) Dried crushed or powdered roots can be applied to food or directly consumed.
Ashwagandha comes in various forms and is an ingredient in many products. The suggested dosage is 600 to 1000 mg twice daily. For people who suffer from insomnia and anxiety, having a cup of hot milk that contains 1 teaspoon powdered Ashwagandha before bedtime is beneficial. Those who are young or especially weak should take a lower dosage. For best results, read and follow product label directions.
ASHWAGANDHA SAFETY, CAUTIONS & INTERACTIONS
Taken in normal doses, Ashwagandha appears to be safe.
However, some constituents of this herb can make you drowsy and should not be used in conjunction with sedative drugs. In high doses, Ashwagandha can have a steroid-like activity. Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease is not known. Botanical safety guidelines in the US and Germany have suggested that Ashwagandha may be a mild abortifacient and it is not recommended for pregnant women. In extremely large doses, Ashwagandha has been reported to induce abortions in animals. Although no similar studies have been carried out on humans, women should avoid the herb during pregnancy.
Ashwagandha may increase the effect of other herbs or medications. It is important to review with your health care provider any other herbs or any drugs you are taking before adding Ashwagandha.
Not much research has been carried out for this particular botanical and to date there have not been any released notes on possible medicinal contraindications, side effects or potential health hazards. Ashwagandha has been used successfully for the last 3,000 years and the empirical evidence of the ages speaks for itself. However, Ashwagandha should not be consumed for long periods of time and is better reserved for times of need.
In two published clinical trials of W. somnifera, the side effects were not significantly different from those experienced by placebo-treated individuals.
ASHWAGANDHA SUPPLEMENTS & RELATED PRODUCTS
QUALITY SUPPLIES & PRODUCTS
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ASHWAGANDHA HERBAL PRODUCTS
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) promotes vitality & strength. Ashwagandha is one of the most highly regarded and commonly used adaptogens in the Ayurvedic pharmacopia. Maximizing the bodies ability to resist stress, it enables the body to reserve and sustain vital energy throughout the day while promoting sound, restful sleep at night. Ashwagandha is a member of the nightshade family, however it should be noted that that unlike other Nightshades, Ashwagandha lacks the poisonous attributes. Typically found and cultivated in India, Ashwagandha has been popularly applied to those with overworked and often hyper-tense lives. Ashwagandha is India's native answer to Ginseng and it is currently being applied in Ayurvedic medicine to treat hypertension and stress related ailments. Recent studies have attempted to popularize its use as a preliminary treatment for male infertility and impotence problems. Recommended in times of strife and stress-induced discomfort. It should not be consumed for long periods of time and best reserved for the "times of need." Ashwagandha may be a mild abortifacient and it is not recommended for pregnant women.
Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center have studied Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera). They found that extracts of the shrub had activity that was similar to GABA, which could explain why the plant is effective in reducing anxiety. Scholars from the University of Leipzig, Germany looked at the effects of Ashwagandha on the brain. The research showed Ashwagandha led to more acetylcholine receptor activity. The scholars concluded that the increase of activity in that particular neurotransmitter could account for the increase in cognitive ability and memory attributed to Ashwagandha. Scholars at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India, conducted research which proves many of the elements of Ashwagandha are antioxidants. The researchers found that Ashwagandha led to larger amounts of three different natural antioxidants: superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase. The antioxidant effect of active principles of Ashwagandha may explain the anti-stress, cognition-facilitating and anti-aging effects produced in clinical situations.
AYURVEDIC HERBS DIRECT PRODUCTS
Ayurvedic Herbs Direct: Ashwagandha Liquid Herbal Extract, Lemon Flavor, Planetary Herbals, 1 fl. oz.
Ayurvedic Herbs Direct: Ashwagandha Advanced Formula, Ayurvedic Herbs Direct, 450 mg, 90 VCaps
Ayurvedic Herbs Direct: Ashwagandha, Vadik, Organic, 100 VCaps
Ayurvedic Herbs Direct: Ashwagandha Anti-Stress & Energy, Himalaya, Organic, 2.96 mg Withanolides, 60 VCaps
Ayurvedic Herbs Direct: Ashwagandha, Ayurceutics, 500 mg, 60 VCaps
Ayurvedic Herbs Direct: Ashwagandha, Organic India, 90 VCaps
Ayurvedic Herbs Direct: Ashwagandha, Full Spectrum, Planetary Ayurvedics, Rejuvenating Tonifier, 570 mg, 120 Tabs
Ayurvedic Herbs Direct: Ashwagandha, Full Spectrum, Planetary Formulas, Rejuvenating Tonifier, 570 mg, 120 Tabs
Ayurvedic Herbs Direct: Ashwagandha/Bala Oil, Organic, Banyan Botanicals, 4 fl. oz.
This vata-pacifying oil can be used to nourish and strengthen the muscles. Particularly useful for athletes and those weakened by debility due to old age or illness. Literally means "strength" - bala helps build muscle mass and provides energy.
Ayurvedic Herbs Direct: Ashwagandha/Bala Oil, Organic, Banyan Botanicals, 36 fl. oz.
STARWEST BOTANICALS PRODUCTS
Starwest Botanicals: Ashwagandha Root, Cut & Sifted, 1 lb.
Starwest Botanicals: Ashwagandha Root, Cut & Sifted, Organic, 1 lb.
Starwest Botanicals: Ashwagandha Root, Powder, 1 lb.
Starwest Botanicals: Ashwagandha Root, Powder, Organic, 1 lb.
Starwest Botanicals: Ashwagandha Root Capsules, Organic, 510 mg, 100 VCaps
Starwest Botanicals: Ashwagandha Root Capsules, Organic, 510 mg, 500 VCaps
HerbsPro: Ashwagandha Extract, Herb Pharm, 1 fl. oz. (2416)
HerbsPro: Ashwagandha, Eclectic Institute Inc, 1 fl. oz. (31825)
HerbsPro: Ashwagandha Extract, Eclectic Institute, 2 fl. oz. (76224)
HerbsPro: Ashwagandha Extract, Herb Pharm, 4 fl. oz. (32210)
HerbsPro: Ashwagandha, Anti-Stress, Natures Formulary, 60 VCaps (63599)
HerbsPro: Ashwagandha Extract, Optimized, Life Extension, 60 VCaps (91866)
HerbsPro: Ashwagandha Root Extract, Solgar SFP, 60 VCaps (36208)
HerbsPro: Ashwagandha Root, Gaia Herbs, 60 Caps (82235)
HerbsPro: Ashwagandha Formula, Organic India, 90 VCaps (84062)
HerbsPro: Ashwagandha, Oregon's Wild Harvest, 90 VCaps
HerbsPro: Ashwagandha, Jarrow Formulas, 225 mg, 120 VCaps
HerbsPro: Ashwagandha Standardized Extract, Natures Way, 500 mg, 60 VCaps (61698)
HerbsPro: Ashwagandha, Avesta (Ayurceutics), 500 mg / 25 mg Withanolides, 60 VCaps (33879)
LIFE EXTENSION PRODUCTS
Herbal Root & Powder
Kalyx: Ashwagandha Root 1.7% Withanolides Powdered Extract, Kalyx Bulk Products, 1 Kg (2.2 lbs): EB
Kalyx: Ashwagandha Root 5% Withanolides Powdered Extract, Kalyx Bulk Products, 1 Kg (2.2 lbs): EB
Kalyx: Ashwagandha Root 4:1 Powdered Extract, Kalyx Bulk Products, 1 Kg (2.2 lbs): EB
Kalyx: Ashwagandha Root Powder, Wildcrafted Withania somnifera, Vadik Herbs, 25 Kg (55 lbs): B
Tablets & Capsules
Kalyx: Ashwagandha Root Liquid Alcohol Extract, Certified Organic, Starwest Botanicals, 1 fl oz: C
Kalyx: Ashwagandha Root Liquid Alcohol Extract, Certified Organic, Starwest Botanicals, 4 fl oz: C
Kalyx: Ashwagandha Non-Alcoholic Extract (Withania somniferum), Health & Herbs, 2 fl oz: HH
Kalyx: Ashwagandha Non-Alcoholic Extract (Withania somniferum), Health & Herbs, 8 fl oz: HH
Kalyx: Ashwagandha Non-Alcoholic Extract (Withania somniferum), Health & Herbs, 16 fl oz: HH
Kalyx: Ashwagandha Root (Withania somniferum) Single Herb Alcohol Fluid Extract, Golden Lotus, 2 fl oz: GL
Kalyx: Ashwagandha Root (Withania somniferum) Single Herb Alcohol Fluid Extract, Golden Lotus, 4 fl oz: GL
Kalyx: Ashwagandha Root (Withania somniferum) Single Herb Alcohol Fluid Extract, Golden Lotus, 8 fl oz: GL
Kalyx: Ashwagandha Root (Withania somniferum) Single Herb Alcohol Fluid Extract, Golden Lotus, 16 fl oz: GL
Kalyx: Ashwagandha Root (Withania somniferum) Single Herb Alcohol Fluid Extract, Golden Lotus, 32 fl oz: GL
Kalyx: Ashwagandha Root (Withania somniferum) Single Herb Alcohol Fluid Extract, Golden Lotus, 1 Gallon: GL
Amazon: Ashwagandha Herbal Products
Amazon: Ashwagandha Herbal Supplement Health Products
Nutrition Basics: Ashwagandha Herbal Information
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