Nature has gifted us with so many wonderful and powerful herbs. Ashwagandha is one of them. There are 2 plants available in the trade namely Withania somnifera(Ashwagandha) and the other is Withania coagulans .The root smells like a horse, that’s why it is called Ashwagandha(on consuming it, it gives the power similar to a horse). The species “somnifera” means “sleep inducing”. It is most commonly known as “Indian ginseng” but botanically it is not related to ginseng. It is cultivated throughout India. According to Ayurveda, Ashwagandha is antioxidant, adaptogen, liver tonic, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial agent. It also possesses an anti-stressor effect and is reported to alleviate stress-induced changes and also provides cardiac protection similar to Ginseng. Ashwagandha root is not beneficial only for men but Ashwagandha root has amazing health benefits for women as well.
Withania somnifera flowers are small and green, while the fruit is orange-red and has milk coagulating properties. The roots of Withania somnifera are used for medicinal purposes.
Botanical Name: Withania somnifera
Taste: Pungent, Bitter, Astringent
Qualities: Oily, Unctuous, Light
Undergoes pungent taste after digestion
Effect on Tridosha: Balances Vata, Pitta, and Kapha but especially Kapha and Vata.
Part Used: Ashwagandha root, Ashwagandha leaves.
Master Charak has classified it among the group of herbs which improves strength and immunity.
Major Chemical Constituents of Ashwagandha:
It contains ingredients like- steroidal alkaloids and lactones known as “Withanolides”.Withanone, Withaferin A, Withanolide A to Y, Tropine, Nicotine, Withasomnine. Withaferin A and Withanolide-D are the two main ingredients that contribute to most of the biological actions of Ashwagandha.
In a research, it has been found that Withania somnifera possesses anti-proliferative activity on MCF-7(breast) human tumor cell lines. Withaferin A, a vimentin cytoskeleton inhibitor has been found to be a potent breast cancer anti-metastatic agent and the anti-metastatic activity of Withaferin A is mediated through its effects on vimentin.So,it was concluded that Withaferin A is a promising anti-cancer constituent of Ayurvedic medicine plant Withania somnifera which has been found to inhibit the growth of MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells in culture.
Health Benefits of Ashwagandha:
It improves strength and immunity.
Ashwagandha acts as an aphrodisiac.
It is quite useful in premature ejaculation.
It improves body nourishment.
It is beneficial in a cough, cold and chronic respiratory conditions.
It improves life expectancy and anti-aging.
Ashwagandha is quite useful in neuromuscular disorders like- paralysis, Kampvaat (Parkinson’s disease).
This herb has the ability to bring down inflammation.
It is anti-toxic so used in detox programs.
It also relieves itching and also useful in pruritus.
It is also used in chronic respiratory problems.
Ashwagandha is also useful in cases of muscle wasting, emaciation, post tubercular treatment to improve muscle mass and strength.
It is quite beneficial in intestinal worm infestation.
On oral intake, it helps in reducing blood pressure.
It is rich in anti-oxidants and also possesses hypoglycemic activity so also useful in treating diabetes.
It is useful in relieving anxiety and depression because it has nerve calming effect so also useful in various sleep disorders.
Its external application in the form of a paste of root is used to relieve pain, inflammation and also useful in chronic skin diseases like- leucoderma.
Its root paste can be applied externally to treat painful swelling, abscess, cellulitis etc.
It can be given to weak children to improve their immunity.
When it is used along with ghee or milk, it helps in weight gain.
Ashwagandha for women: Ashwagandha is such a herb which is generally related to men but it equally beneficial for women as well.
7 Amazing Benefits of Ashwagandha root for Women:
If a female is planning for conception, take Ashwagandha root powder 5-10 gm and add it to 400 ml water, boil and reduce the water level to 100 ml. After reduction, do not filter the decoction, add approximate 100 ml milk to it. Continue heating this milk until you are left with 100 ml. Now filter it. This is to be taken 30 ml with half teaspoon of cow’s ghee regularly for 2-3 months before conception before breakfast in the morning. After the preparation, it should not be reboiled and must be used within 3-4 hours of preparation. This remedy helps to strengthen the ligaments, ovaries, and uterus so as to prepare for pregnancy. This remedy also helps to reduce the stress levels. It is also a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant. Moreover, this herb also helps in relieving the auto-immune disorder as the auto-immune disorder is also a cause of infertility.
This mixture contains both water and fat-soluble active principles of Ashwagandha.
It is also used in treating and improving female libido.
Its root extract inhibits mammary cancer metastasis and epithelial to mesenchymal transition. Withaferin A is a steroidal lactone that induces apoptosis and inhibits tumor growth.
It helps in relieving dysmenorrhea.
Ashwagandha also improves the quality of ovum.
It also improves the energy levels. Today, every woman is working outside as well as manages all the household chores which results in fatigue syndrome. Taking Ashwagandha root powder daily keeps the women active throughout the day.
Ashwagandha is also used as menopausal support. Various symptoms of menopause like- hot flashes, anxiety, mood swings etc. are reduced by Ashwagandha.
Because of its hot potency, if it is taken alone with water, people with Pitta dosha dominance may feel increased hotness but if it is taken with cow’s ghee or milk, its hot effect is much nullified.
Withania somnifera is a most important herbs of Ayurveda(Indian system of medicine) used for millennia as a “Rasayana” for its wide range of health benefits. It is an ingredient in many formulations prescribed for a variety of musculoskeletal conditions e.g. arthritis, rheumatism as a general tonic to increase energy, to improve overall health and longevity and prevent disease in athletes, the elderly and to maintain women’s health. It is well known for other activities like- adaptogenic/anti-stress, anti-fatigue, antiparkinson’s, anti-tumor, anti-ulcerogenic and also supports anti-thyroid function. It is also useful in the treatment of various types of cancer like- colon cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, renal cancer etc.
It should not be considered only as men’s tonic as Ashwagandha root is equally beneficial for females too.