Withania somnifera

Ashwagandha is one of the main herbs for promoting Ojas and rejuvenating the body. It is a well-known semen promoter and it treats impotency and infertility. It increases physical endurance and improves sexual function. It is a rejuvenative general tonic, which stimulates immune system. Increases physical endurance & promotes Ojas. It regenerates hormonal system, has anti stress properties. It is used in many general tonics and preparations, such as Chyavana Prash.

Sanskrit Ashwagandha
English Winter cherry
Latin name Withania somnifera
Family Solanaceae

Morphology: A dense, hairy erect grayish tomentose herb or undershrub. The roots are stout, long tuberous, fleshy, whitish brown and aromatic. Leaf: The leaves are simple, alternate or sub-opposite, round-oval shaped. The flowers are greenish-yellow and found in few flowered clusters in axils. The fruit is a round orange-red berry, enclosed in green enlarged calyx. The fruit resembles that of red cherries. The seeds are many, yellow kidney shaped and discoid.

It has amino acids, choline etc. Although considered to be the primary tonic for men, it can be safely used by women for up to one year in cases of general debility & pregnancy. It contains chemical constituents like alkaloids, beta-sitosterol, chlorogenic acid, scopoletin, withaferin etc.

Ayurvedic Pharmacodynamic properties:
Rasa Tikta (bitter), Katu (pungent), Madhura (sweet)
Guna Laghu (light), Snigdha (oily)
Virya Ushna (hot)
Vipaka Madhura (sweet)
Doshakarma Kapha-Vatashamak (alleviate K and V Dosha)
Useful parts: Roots and leaves
Medicinal uses: It is bitter in taste, hot, germicidal, aphrodisiac, and diuretic and alleviates of Vata, Kapha. It cures ulcer, fever, cough, dyspnea, dropsy, impotence, rheumatism, toxicosis and leukoderma. It improves physical strength and is prescribed in all cases of general debility. It helps to stabilize the fetus. It regenerates the hormonal system, promotes healing of tissues.
Dose: Powder 3-5 gm
Important formulations: Ashwagandha Churna

Home remedies:

  1. Its Ksheerapaka, is so effective to increase the breast milk in child feeding females, it should be prepared with Vidarikanda and Madhuyasti in the proportion of 3:2:1.
  2. To increase the semen and sexual potency, its root powder should be taken in a dose of 3-5gm daily with milk.
  3. Daily intake of root powder of Ashwagandha provides Rasayana effects in the body and prevent from premature ageing


  1. Roots ofWithania somnifera Inhibit Forestomach and Skin Carcinogenesis in Mice, Bandhuvula Padmavathi, Pramod C. Rath, Araga Ramesha Rao, and Rana Pratap Singh, School of Life Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, IndiaThis study showing its mechanism-based cancer chemopreventive efficacy are limited, this was investigated in the present study. The findings suggest that W.somnifera root has chemopreventive efficacy against forestomach and skin carcinogenesis and warrants the identification and isolation of active compounds responsible for its anticancer effects, which may provide the lead for the development of antitumor agents.
  2. Can J Microbiol. 2007 Jan;53(1):63-74. Characterization and control of endophytic bacterial contaminants in in vitro cultures of Piper spp., Taxus baccata subsp. wallichiana, and Withania somnifera. Kulkarni AA, Kelkar SM, Watve MG, Krishnamurthy KV. Institute of Bioinformatics and Biotechnology, University of Pune, India.The five endophytic bacteria associated with Piper nigrum and Piper colubrinum, four endophytic bacteria associated with Taxus baccata subsp. wallichiana, two endophytic bacteria associated with Withania somnifera, and two bacteria common to all these plant species were isolated and characterized based on morphological and biochemical tests. Their taxonomic positions based on similarity indices were determined. A control strategy against these bacteria has been developed based on bacteriostatic or bactericidal actions of 12 antibiotics at three different concentrations by solid and liquid antibiogramme assays.
  3. Ethiop Med J. 2006 Jul;44(3):279-85. Anti-malarial activity of withania somnifera L. Dunal extracts in mice. Dikasso D, Makonnen E, Debella A, Abebe D, Urga K, Makonnen W, Melaku D, Kassa M, Guta M. Ethiopian Health and Nutrition Research Institute, P.O. Box 1242.Extracts were administered by intra gastric tube daily for four days starting from the day of parasite inoculation. Parasitemia percent inhibition of W. somnifera roots and root barks were 50.43% and 29.13% respectively, with 600 mg/kg dose. Inhibition was statistically significant at all dose levels, compared to the negative controls (p < 0.05), and maximum inhibition was seen at 600 mg/kg. Extracts of the leaves and root barks of W. somnifera showed parasite suppressive effect and a protective effect on PCV drop (at higher doses), both in dose-related fashions. However, the effects on body weight and body temperature falls are inconclusive.
  4. J Biosci. 2007 Mar; 32(2):299-307. Chondroprotective potential of root extracts of Withania somnifera in osteoarthritis. Sumantran VN, Kulkarni A, Boddul S, Chinchwade T, Koppikar SJ, Harsulkar A, Patwardhan B, Chopra A, Wagh UV. Interactive Research School for Health Affairs (IRSHA),Bhartiya Vidyapeeth Deemed University Medical College Campus,Dhankawadi,Pune 411043,India, vsumantran@gmail.com.This report describing two novel chondroprotective activities of aqueous extracts of Withania somnifera root powder. First these extracts had a statistically signi ? cant,short-term chondroprotective effect on damaged human osteoarthritic cartilage matrix in 50% of the patients tested. Second, these extracts caused a significant and reproducible inhibition of the gelatinase activity of collagenase type 2 enzyme in vitro.
  5. Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2007 Apr;131(4):619-21. Interference of Asian, American, and Indian (Ashwagandha) ginsengs in serum digoxin measurements by a fluorescence polarization immunoassay can be minimized by using a new enzyme-linked chemiluminescent immunosorbent or turbidimetric assay. Dasgupta A, Kang E, Olsen M, Actor JK, Datta P. Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Texas-Houston Medical School, 6431 Fannin, MSB 2.292, Houston, TX 77030, USA. Amitava.Dasgupta@uth.tmc.eduA significant apparent digoxin concentration was observed both in vitro and in vivo using the fluorescence polarization immunoassay, but no apparent digoxin concentration was observed using enzyme-linked chemiluminescent immunosorbent digoxin assay and turbidimetric assay. No interference was observed with enzyme-linked chemiluminescent immunosorbent digoxin assay and turbidimetric assay when digoxin serum pools were further supplemented with various ginsengs.
  6. Cell Mol Biol Lett. 2007 Apr 6; [Epub ahead of print] The neuroprotective effect of Withania somnifera root extract in MPTP- intoxicated mice: An analysis of behavioral and biochemical varibles. Sankar SR, Manivasagam T, Krishnamurti A, Ramanathan M. Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, Annamalai University Annamalainagar, 608 002, India, anatomysrs@yahoo.com.The influence of Withania somnifera (Ws) root extract (100 mg/kg body weight) on parkinsonism induced by 1-methyl 4-phenyl 1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP; i.p, 20 mg/kg body weight for 4 days), via the analysis of behavioral features and the oxidant-antioxidant imbalance in the midbrain of mice was studied. A significant alteration in behavior, increased levels of thiobarbituric acid reactive substance (TBARS), and increased activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT) were noticed in this region of brain in MPTP-treated mice. Oral treatment with the root extract resulted in a significant improvement in the mice’s behavoiur and antioxidant status, along with a significant reduction in the level of lipid peroxidation. The results indicated that at least part of the chronic stress-induced pathology may be due to oxidative stress, which is mitigated by Ws. Further studies are needed to assess the precise mechanism to support the clinical use of the plant as an antiparkinsonic drug.
  7. Fundam Clin Pharmacol. 2007 Apr;21(2):157-64. Protective effect of Withania somnifera root powder in relation to lipid peroxidation, antioxidant status, glycoproteins and bone collagen on adjuvant-induced arthritis in rats. Rasool M, Varalakshmi P. School of Bio-engineering and Biosciences, Vellore Institute of Technology, Deemed University, Vellore – 632 014, Tamil Nadu, India. mkr474@rediffmail.com Withania somnifera root powder (1000 mg/kg/day) and Indomethacin (3 mg/kg/day) were orally administered for 8 days (from 11th to 18th day) after adjuvant injection. Results of the present investigation showed significant increase in the level of lipid peroxides, glycoproteins, and urinary constituents with the depletion of antioxidant status and bone collagen in arthritic animals. The results of this study clearly indicate that W. somnifera root powder is capable of rectifying the above biochemical changes in adjuvant arthritis.


These clinical studies show that Ashwagandha has antibacterial, antitumor, anti-inflammatory and immuno-modulating properties. A separate study also showed immunomodulatory (harmonizes immune function) effects, including a positive effect on the central nervous system. These tests show strong anti-stress actions, increased memory & learning capabilities.
The strong anti stress properties include both mental and physical stress and exhaustion. Furthermore, this test indicates the low order of toxicity of the plant, supporting the Ayurvedic view that it is safe for long-term consumption. It has also exhibited antibacterial and antifungal activities in a raw or unprocessed state and it has antibiotic effects. Many studies have documented the profound antitumor action of Ashwagandha, suggesting possible anticancer effects. In many laboratory studies Ashwagandha has modulated and stimulated immune function.
One study showed a prolonged hypotensive (stabalizes low blood pressure), bradycardiac (regulating heartbeat), and respiratory stimulating action. In addition the anti-arthiritic effects, the prevention of necrosis of liver tissue, the rejuvenation of these liver tissues (which can reduce death probability) and the intestinal anti-inflammatory actions of Ashwagandha clearly show why Ayurveda has such a high opinion of this herb as a general tonic.
Article courtsey: Chakrapani Ayurveda ; Jaipur;India

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