Also known as “Indian ginseng,” its scientific name is Withania somnifera, and it originates in India, where it has been in use for at least 3000 years. It contains 11 known alkaloids, several sitoindosides, a new group of compounds first isolated and studied in the late 1980s, and 35 withanolides, with extensive anti-inflammatory, anti-stress, anti-microbial, immune-enhancing, heart-strengthening properties.
- Anti-inflammatory agent. Its anti-inflammatory properties are equal or greater than these of aspirin and hydrocortisone, being as potent as corticosteroids in cases of acute inflammation, and half as potent in chronic inflammation, but without any known side effects. Beneficial to arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.
- Anti-stress agent. Ashwagandha is superior to Panax ginseng as an anti-stress agent, and chronic fatigue syndrome patients report a 45 percent symptom improvement when using preparations of this herb.
- Anti-microbial agent. The plant’s active withanolides have significant anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal but also cell protective properties. The herb acts by inducing a state of non-specific increased resistance (SNIR), to nearly everything from asthma and bronchitis to diabetes, marasmus, leucoderma and lung adenoma.
- Immune system enhancement. Like a few other natural agents, Ashwagandha has a balancing effect on the immune system, boosting a weak immune system and suppressing an overactive one, potentially of benefits to auto-immune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, psoriasis, etc.
- Cardiovascular tonic. Withanolides are known to positively influence the contractility of the heart muscle and to reduce high blood pressure.
- Geriatric agent. The herb has been used to ameliorate cerebral function deficits in older persons, including memory retention.