Ashwagandha

Plant Part Used

Root

Introduction

Ashwagandha root, also known as winter cherry or Indian ginseng, is an important herb from the Ayurvedic or Indian system of medicine. Ashwagandha has been traditionally used for the treatment of debility, emaciation, impotence, and premature aging. (1)

Interactions and Depletions

Interactions

Dosage Info

Dosage Range

450mg (standardized extract), 2-3 times a day.

Most Common Dosage

450mg (standardized extract), 2 times a day.

Standardization

[span class=doc]Standardization represents the complete body of information and controls that serve to enhance the batch to batch consistency of a botanical product, including but not limited to the presence of a marker compound at a defined level or within a defined range.[/span]

The most current available medical and scientific literature indicates that this dietary supplement should be standardized to at least 1.5% withanolides per dose.

Reported Uses

Today, Ayurvedic practitioners use this dietary supplement to enhance mental and physical performance, improve learning ability, and decrease stress and fatigue. (2) What’s more, ashwagandha is a general tonic that can be used in stressful situations, especially insomnia, restlessness, or when you’re feeling overworked. Studies have indicated that ashwagandha possesses anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antistress, antioxidant, immune modulating, rejuvenating properties, and more. (3) , (4) , (5) , (6) , (7) , (8) , (9)

Scientists have explored several causes for ashwagandha’s soothing and medicinal properties. First, studies suggest that the herb may increase the red blood cell count, helping needed oxygen to get to the tissues. (10) Mulitple animal studies have indicated that ashwagandha may also enhance various elements of the immune system such as the number of white blood cells. (11) Ashwagandha has also boosted the immune system after cyclophosphamide chemotherapy. (12)

Ashwagandha is rich in iron, which contributes to increased red blood cell count. Additionally, scientists have discovered that ashwagandha contains significant amounts of the amino acids arginine and ornithine. These amino acids are needed for proper nervous system function. (13)

A very small study of 6 individuals with mild type 2 diabetes and 6 other individuals with mildly elevated cholesterol were treated with ashwagandha for 30 days. A decrease in blood glucose was noted as was a decrease in cholesterol and triglycerides. (14)

Ashwagandha has shown promise in other areas. An animal study indicated that ashwagandha may stimulate thyroid function by enhancing serum T4 concentration. (15) One study reported that men who used the herb enjoyed higher sexual performance. (16) Also, ashwagandha may be useful in opiate withdrawal and addiction treatment. (17)

Toxicities & Precautions

Introduction

[span class=alert]Be sure to tell your pharmacist, doctor, or other health care providers about any dietary supplements you are taking. There may be a potential for interactions or side effects.[/span]

General

This dietary supplement is considered safe when used in accordance with proper dosing guidelines. (18)

Health Conditions

If you have a thyroid condition, do not use ashwagandha without medical supervision. An animal study showed that ashwagandha may change thyroid function. (19)

If you have a known cardiovascular risk, this dietary supplement should be used in moderation in men. Increased iron intake associated with the use of ashwagandha may potentially accelerate this risk.

Pregnancy/ Breast Feeding

This dietary supplement should not be used in pregnant women. Ashwagandha has been reported to induce abortions. (20)

This dietary supplement should not be used if you are breast-feeding an infant without first consulting a physician.

Age Limitations

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects specifically related to the use of this dietary supplement in children. Since young children may have undiagnosed allergies or medical conditions, this dietary supplement should not be used in children under 10 years of age unless recommended by a physician.

Read More

  1) Ayuverda

References

  1. Boone K. Withania – The Indian Ginseng and Anti-aging Adaptogen. Nutrition and Healing. Jun1998;5(6):5-7.
  2. View Abstract: Singh A, Naidu PS, Gupta S, Kulkarni SK. Effect of natural and synthetic antioxidants in a mouse model of chronic fatigue syndrome. J Med Food. Dec2002;5(4):211-20.
  3. View Abstract: Mishra LC, Singh BB, Dagenais S. Scientific Basis for the Therapeutic Use of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha): A Review. Altern Med Rev. Aug2000;5(4):334-46.
  4. View Abstract: Archana R, Namasivayam A. Antistressor Effect of Withania somnifera. J Ethnopharmacol. Jan1999;64(1):91-3.
  5. View Abstract: Grandhi A, et al. A Comparative Pharmacological Investigation of Ashwagandha and Ginseng. J Ethnopharmaco. Dec1994;44(3):131-35.
  6. View Abstract: Singh A, Saxena E, Bhutani KK. Adrenocorticosterone Alterations in Male, Albino Mice Treated with Trichopus zeylanicus, Withania somnifera and Panax ginseng Preparations. Phytother Res. Mar2000;14(2):122-5.
  7. View Abstract: Dhuley JN. Adaptogenic and Cardioprotective Action of Ashwagandha in Rats and Frogs. J Ethnopharmacol. Apr2000;70(1):57-63.
  8. View Abstract: Ziauddin M, et al. Studies on the Immunomodulatory Effects of Ashwagandha. J Ethnopharmacol. Feb1996;50(2):69-76.
  9. View Abstract: Jain S, Shukla SD, Sharma K, Bhatnagar M. Neuroprotective Effects of Withania somnifera Dunn. in Hippocampal Sub-regions of Female Albino Rat. Phytother Res. Sep2001;15(6):544-8.
  10. View Abstract: Ziauddin M, et al. Studies on the Immunomodulatory Effects of Ashwagandha. J Ethnopharmacol. Feb1996;50(2):69-76.
  11. View Abstract: Davis L, Kuttan G. Effect of Withania somnifera on Cytokine Production in Normal and Cyclophosphamide Treated Mice. Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol. Nov1999;21(4):695-703.
  12. View Abstract: Agarwal R, Diwanay S, Patki P, et al. Studies on Immunomodulatory Activity of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) Extracts in Experimental Immune Inflammation. J Ethnopharmacol. Oct1999;67(1):27-35.
  13. View Abstract: Elsakka M, et al. New Data Referring to Chemistry of Withania Somnifera Species. Rev Med Chir Soc Med Nat Lasi. Apr1990;94(2):385-87.
  14. View Abstract: Andallu B, Radhika B. Hypoglycemic, Diuretic and Hypocholesterolemic Effect of Winter Cherry (Withania somnifera, Dunal) Root. Indian J Exp Biol. Jun2000;38(6):607-9.
  15. View Abstract: Panda S, Kar A. Withania somnifera and Bauhinia purpurea in the Regulation of Circulating Thyroid Hormone Concentrations in Female Mice. J Ethnopharmacol. Nov1999;67(2):233-9.
  16. Boone K. Withania – The Indian Ginseng and Anti-aging Adaptogen. Nutrition and Healing. Jun1998;5(6):5-7.
  17. View Abstract: Kulkarni SK, et al. Inhibition of Morphine Tolerance and Dependence by Withania Somnifera in Mice. J Ethnopharmacol. Aug1997;57(3):213-17.
  18. Boone K. Withania – The Indian Ginseng and Anti-aging Adaptogen. Nutrition and Healing. Jun1998;5(6):5-7.
  19. View Abstract: Panda S, Kar A. Withania somnifera and Bauhinia purpurea in the Regulation of Circulating Thyroid Hormone Concentrations in Female Mice. J Ethnopharmacol. Nov1999;67(2):233-9.
  20. Sudhir S, et al. Pharmacological Studies on Leaves of Withania somnifera. Planta Med. Feb1986;1:61-63.