Part Used: Fresh root
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), also known as Indian ginseng, Winter cherry, Ajagandha, Kanaje Hindi and Samm Al Ferakh, is a plant in Solanaceae or nightshade family. It grows as a stout shrub that reaches a height of 170cm. Like the tomato which belongs to the same family, Ashwagandha bears yellow flowers and red fruit, though its fruit is berry-like in size and shape. It grows prolifically in India, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Ashwagandha Root is among the most prominent herbal preparations used in Ayurveda, a holistic system originated from India. It is a unique herb with anti-stress adaptogenic action that leads to better physical fitness and helps cope with daily stress. It is specially beneficial in stress related disorders such as arthritis, hypertension, diabetes, general debility, etc. In Ayurveda Ashwagandha is considered a rasayana herb, an herb which works on a nonspecific basis to increase health and longevity. This herb is also considered an adaptogen which is a nontoxic herb that works on a nonspecific basis to normalize physiological function, working on the HPA axis and the neuroendocrine system. The roots and berries of the plant are used in herbal medicine.
Modern herbalists classify Ashwagandha as an adaptogen, a substance said to increase the body's ability to withstand stress of all types. Other proposed uses of Ashwagandha are based on even weaker evidence, including: preventing cancer, improving immunity , enhancing mental function , and combating anxiety and depression. Some traditional uses of Ashwagandha are also invoked today, such as enhancing sexual function in men , increasing fertility in men or women , aiding sleep and enhancing sports performance ; however, there is no supporting scientific evidence for these uses.
Ashwagandha root extract is known for its effects in rejuvenating sexual ability and performance. What is often left unsaid is that it rejuvenates tissues throughout the body. It strengthens the nerves, promotes restful sleep, improves memory and reduces the graying of the hair. It is used by athletes to increase their performance. The Chinese use it as a liver and kidney tonic. Ashwagandha is believed to be safe; however, formal safety studies have not been reported. Therefore, it should not be used by pregnant or nursing women, young children, or those with severe kidney or liver disease.