Scientific Name-Withania somnifera
Family : Solanaceae
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera, fam. Solanaceae) is commonly known as “Indian Winter cherry” or “Indian Ginseng”. It is one of the most important herb of Ayurveda (the traditional system of medicine in India) used for millennia as a Rasayana for its wide ranging health benefits.
This species is a short shrub growing 35–75 cm (14–30 in)
tall. Tomentose branches extend radially from a central stem. Leaves are dull green, elliptic, usually up to 10–12 cm (3.9–4.7 in) long. The flowers are small, green and bell-shaped. The ripe fruit is orange-red.
he root of the herb has a distinctive smell that resembles the sweat of a horse, giving it the name Ashwagandha. In the Ayurvedic textbook ‘Bhavaprakasha’, the properties of Ashwagandha are illustrated in below shloka:
गन्धान्ता वाजिनामादिरश्वगन्धा हयाद्वया। वराहकर्णी वरदा बलदा कुष्ठगन्धिनी ||
अश्वगन्धाऽनिलश्लेष्मश्वित्रशोथक्षयापहा । बल्या रसायनी तिक्ता कपायोष्णाऽतिशुक्रला ॥ -भावप्रकाश
Ashwagandha is known to provide aid in managing problems associated with stress and anxiety due to its Rasayana (Rejuvenating) and Vata balancing properties. These properties may also help in diabetes management. It also has Vajikarana (aphrodisiac) property which helps in improving stamina and treats conditions like erectile dysfunction. Root powder of Ashwagandha can be taken with milk to help manage male infertility and erectile dysfunction. It is used as a nervine tonic for various nerve-related problems. It provides aid in the management of stress and anxiety. It stabilizes the body’s response to stressful conditions.
The biologically active chemical constituents of Withania somnifera (WS) include alkaloids (isopelletierine, anaferine, cuseohygrine, anahygrine, etc.), steroidal lactones (withanolides, withaferins) and saponins Sitoindosides and acylsterylglucosides in Ashwagandha are anti-stress agents. Active principles of Ashwagandha, for instance the sitoindosides VII-X and Withaferin-A, have been shown to have significant anti-stress activity against acute models of experimental stress Many of its constituents support immunomodulatory actions The aerial parts of Withania somnifera yielded 5-dehydroxy withanolide-R and withasomniferin-A
Withaferin A and 3-b-hydroxy-2,3-dihydrowithanolide F isolated from Withania somnifera show promising antibacterial, antitumoral, immunomodulating and anti-inflammatory properties