As many of you know I routinely prescribe herbs in my practice. One powerful herb is Withania somnifera, aka Indian Ginseng or Ashwagandha. Found in the drier parts of western India, northern Africa, Middle East, it is a small evergreen that only grows 2-3 feet. In ancient times rulers used it to feel younger and for longevity. The word Ashwagandha means "horse smell" in sanskrit, as the odor of the root does smell like a sweaty horse (ew!) However don't let this fact detour you, Ashwaganda has amazing health properties!
It is most commonly known as an adaptogen, having the ability to enhance the body's systems to deal with stress. It also is immunomodulating (increasing or decreasing the immune system depending on what you need), and reduces anxiety and depression without unwanted side effects. Most commonly it is made as a tincture (a liquid extract), using all roots, leaves and berries. Ashwagandha is high in iron and is pretty safe to use long term. Common benefits include:
Improves learning, memory, and reaction time
stabilizes blood sugar
reduces brain-cell degeneration
contains anti-malarial properties
offers anti-inflammatory benefits
Anti cancer effects, anti-inflammatory benefits
Can be used for relieving arthritic pain
Reduction of insomnia and provides sound sleep
Helps in relieving hypertension and stress
It’s a powerful aphrodisiac, helps to treat erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, infertility and other erection disorders, and increases libido
Helps arteriosclerosis, malignancy, premature aging and fluctuating blood sugar levels.*
Helps in increasing physiological endurance.
Helps to reconstruct the nervous system network, hence effective for treating . Neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.
Education is key... spread the word :)
References: Bhattacharya, S.K., et al. "Anti-stress activity of sitoindosides VII and VIII, new acylsterylglycosides from Withania somnifera," Phytother Res, 1(1): 32-37, 1987. Ghosal, S., et al. "Immunomodulatory and CNS effects of sitoindosides IX and X, two new glycowithanolides from Withania somnifera," Phytother Res, 3(5): 201-6, 1989. Wallace, E C. "Adaptogenic Herbs, natures solution to stress." The chiropractic resource organization. Web. June 23, 2012.