Ashwagandha(ä-shwə-ˈgän-də) n. 1. A preparation usually of the leaves or roots of an evergreen shrub (Withania somnifera) native to Africa, Asia, and southern Europe that is used in Ayurvedic and herbal medicine. Synonyms: Indian ginseng, poison gooseberry, winter cherry, Withania Somnifera. Derivation: Sanskrit aśvagandha, horse smell. Somnifera from Latin 'sleep-inducing'.
SourceThis highly esteemed Ayurveda medical herb is a member of the Solanaceae family. It is native to India, northern Africa and the Middle East. It is more recently grown in the United States in the milder regions of the country. Both the berry and the root are used. It is referred to as the Ayurvedic answer to the popular Asian herb, ginseng. It is used for stress relief, memory loss, fatigue, supporting a healthy immune system and promoting healthy joints.
BenefitsAshwagandha acts to soothe the nervous system. It reduces anxiety, stress, fatigue and tension. It has strong antioxidant properties that boost the immune system. It improves mental alertness, memory and concentration. According to the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: “The active constituents are thought to include alkaloids, steroidal lactones, saponins, and withanolides. In vitro studies suggest that Ashwagandha has anti-inflammatory properties which may protect against cartilage damage in osteoarthritis. In addition, improvements in hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia, and insulin sensitivity have been detected in animal model[s] of type 2 diabetes. Externally, it can be applied as a local analgesic.”
UsesAshwagandha is used as an anti-inflammatory, stress relief agent and to boost the immune system. It promotes healthy joints. Helps improve memory, concentration and mental alertness. It also helps fight fatigue.
Forms (delivery methods)Ashwagandha is available in liquid, capsule, powder and tablets.
Side EffectsAshwagandha is generally considered safe when taken by mouth. Large doses may cause stomach upset, diarrhea and vomiting. Pregnant women should not take ashwagandha.
Research:1 An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3252722/2 Ashwagandha https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/ashwagandha