Withania somnifera

Synonyms - "Indian Ginseng"

Edible Parts - Ashwagandha is a small, woody shrub in the Solanaceae family that grows about two feet in height. It can be found growing in Africa, the Mediterranean, and India. As a result of this wide growing range, there are considerable morphological and chemotypical variations in terms of local species. However, the primary alkaloids of both the wild and the cultivated species appear to be the same. The bright red fruit is harvested in the late fall and seeds are dried for planting in the following spring. The berries have been shown to have an emetic effect. The roots are the main portion of the plant used therapeutically. The roots and leaves of the plant are prepared traditionally as powder, decoction, oil, poultice, etc.

Medical use - The use of ashwagandha is regarded as one of the most valuable Ayurvedic medicinal plants. Its use has been mentioned as an ameobicide, anodyne, bactericide, diuretic, emminagogue, fungicide, sedative, tonic, etc. It has been used as a folk medicine against arthritis, asthma, cancer, candidiasis, colds, cough, cystitis, debility, diarrhea, fever, gynecopathy, hiccups, hypertension, inflammations, lumbago, nausea, piles, proctitis, psoriasis, rheumatism, ringworm, scabies, senility, small pox, sores, syphilis, tuberculosis, tumors, typhoid, uterosis and wounds. With a program of good nutrition, it can boost both immunity and endurance. Clinical studies of ashwagandha, in various universities and research institutes, have demonstrated increased resistance to stress, greater physical endurance, and more ability to withstand chemical stresses.

Contra-indications - Ashwagandha is generally safe when taken in the prescribed dosage range. Large doses have been shown to cause gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea, and vomiting.


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