Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

What is Ashwagandha?

There are few herbs as useful for supporting the health of the adrenal glands as ashwagandha.

This traditional ayurvedic herb is useful for alleviating a wide range of stress-related symptoms including adrenal fatigue, convalescence, and exhaustion.

Compared to other adaptogenic herbs, ashwagandha falls more on the sedative or relaxing end of the spectrum. It’s non-stimulating, and can even be used to support sleep — though it’s not explicitly considered a sedative.

Ashwagandha is extremely popular among herbalists due to its wide range of benefits, high level of safety, and affordable cost. For best results, ashwagandha should be used alongside other herbs with more specific actions and lifestyle and dietary changes.

What Else is Ashwagandha Known As?

  • Withania
  • Ashwagandha
  • Indian ginseng
  • Winter cherry

Herbal Actions/Properties of Ashwagandha

  • Adaptogen
  • Mild sedative
  • Tonic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Immunomodulator
  • Anti-anaemic
  • Antitumor
  • Nervine
  • Thyroid modulator

What is Ashwagandha Used For? 

The primary use of ashwagandha is for supporting the adrenals — however, the herb can be used whenever there’s convalescence, frequent illness, or where stress is considered a major cause of the symptom picture.

Other uses for the herb are for supporting fertility, sleep, and athletic performance.

Folklore & History of Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha has a strong history of use in India via the Ayurvedic medical system. here the herb was used as a panacea. Health practitioners often included this herb in formulas used for treating many different medical conditions or symptoms.

Ashwagandha Side-Effects & Safety

Ashwagandha is exceptionally safe as a herb. There are no reported cases of overdose or severe side-effects from this herb, even in large doses.

This herb is popular during pregnancy in India — however, always consult your health practitioner before using this herb if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

Due to issues with lead contamination in India and China, it’s recommended you avoid ashwagandha that’s been grown in these regions.

How Much Ashwagandha Do I Use? 

Ashwagandha supplements can vary a lot in strength. Most herbalists will use a 1:2 extract at a dose of 5 – 12 mL per day.

Always follow the directions on the label for best results unless advised differently from an experienced health practitioner.

Scientific Research Involving Ashwagandha

  1. Withania somnifera Induces Cytotoxic and Cytostatic Effects on Human T Leukemia Cells. Toxins. — 2016
  2. Withaferin A Inhibits Helicobacter pylori-induced Production of IL-1β in Dendritic Cells by Regulating NF-κB and NLRP3 Inflammasome Activation. — 2015
  3. Anti-cancer activity of withaferin A in B-cell lymphoma. — 2015
  4. Molecular targets and mechanisms of cancer prevention and treatment by withaferin a, a naturally occurring steroidal lactone. — 2014
  5. Withanolides: Chemistry and antitumor activity. — 2013
  6. A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults.  — 2013
  7. Withaferin A targets heat shock protein 90 in pancreatic cancer cells. — 2010
  8. Protective effect of Withania somnifera dunal root extract against protracted social isolation induced behavior in rats. — 2007
  9. Withanolides potentiate apoptosis, inhibit invasion, and abolish osteoclastogenesis through suppression of nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) activation and NF-kappaB-regulated gene expression.  — 2006
  10. Adaptogenic activity of Withania somnifera: an experimental study using a rat model of chronic stress. — 2001
  11. Hypoglycemic, diuretic and hypocholesterolemic effect of winter cherry (Withania somnifera, Dunal) root. — 2000
  12. A double-blind, placebo-controlled evaluation of the anxiolytic efficacy ff an ethanolic extract of withania somnifera. — 2000
  13. Studies on immunomodulatory activity of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) extracts in experimental immune inflammation. — 1999
  14. Anti-granuloma activity of Iraqi Withania somnifera. — 1992
  15. Withania somnifera (ashwagandha), a rejuvenating herbal drug which enhances survival during stress (an adaptogen). — 1982