Ashwagandha is an Indian herb which is also called Ayurvedic ginseng . The roots of the ashwagandha shrub were traditionally used to boost the immune system after illness and to treat inflammatory and infectious disease. It is also known as "winter cherry" and "Ayurvedic ginseng" in English. Other names for Ashwagandha are Withania somnifera, red ginseng.
The Ashwaganda plant is an evergreen perennial shrub which is usually found in the arid parts of India and has been found as far west as Israel. It sometimes grows as tall as seven feet and looks similar to a large potato plant. Although different parts of the plant have been used for medicinal purposes, the root is the primary source. The Latin name for the plant literally means "sweat of a horse" because the root smells like a damp horse.
Medicinal Properties & Uses: Ashwaganda is considered to be astringent, sedative, aphrodisiac, antibiotic, antiviral and diuretic. It is often used internally for indigestion, heart disease, arthritis, back pain, and fevers. Ashwaganda has also been effective in relieving insomnia, convalescence, nervous exhaustion, and impotence. In the cases of mental health, Ashwaganda helps to prevent mental exhaustion in those who extend their energies more than they replenish, and also aids in recovery for those who have already exhausted themselves.
Ashwagandha is a member of the Solanaceae, or nightshade, family of plants, which grows in India and North America. This evergreen shrub has long tuberous roots and small yellowish green flowers with round fruit that turns orange when ripe. The roots are most commonly used to make supplements, though the entire plant can be used medicinally.
Ashwagandha is mistakenly called Ayurvedic ginseng because it has many of the same uses as ginseng in China. What's interesting is that ashwagandha is still being used today in the same way for the same reasons it's been used for centuries.
Health benefits fo Ashwagandha:
In the Indian Ayurvedic system of medicine, ashwagandha is used to boost energy and vitality and is called a "vitalizer." Because of its potential to improve learning and memory, it's used widely by seniors.
The young plant shoots and seeds are used as food and to thicken milk.
Ashwagandha is known to:
- Boost strength
- Increase stamina
- Relieve fatigue
- Enhance sexual energy and rejuvenate the body
- Strengthen the immune system
- Speed up a recovery from a chronic illness
- Can even be used on children to help them recover from an illness
- Soothes and calms your mind without making you drowsy
- Clarifies your mind and improves memory
- Even can slow the aging process
- It is used to relieve pain and inflammation (including arthritis)
- Ashwagandha is also used to fight infectious diseases, fevers, and even tumors.
Research indicates that Ashwagandha may be useful in the treatment of many ailments. This great Indian herb is known for curing many symptoms including:
- Arthritis & rheumatism
- Asthma & Bronchitis
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Hay fever
Ashwagandha preparations are made from the roots and leaves of Withania somnifera, which is a small shrub in the nightshade (Solanaceae) family. The seeds and shoots have all been used as well. It grows prolifically in the arid highlands of Himalayan India as well as in parts of northern Africa and the Middle East.
More recently, athletes have discovered ashwagandha and have begun to supplement with it to increase endurance, reduce stress, and control pain, all of which are important for optimal exercise performance. While obviously more research is needed, some data suggests ashwagandha may, in fact, have powerful performance potential: research has shown that animals given ashwagandha swim longer than those deprived of it; they also gain more muscle mass than animals given ginseng. What's more, ashwagandha is believed to help prevent age-related health concerns such as reduced sexual performance due to its aphrodisiac effects.
A study conducted by the Research Institute for Cell Engineering, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan tested the leaf extract of the ashwagandha plant for its effect on cancer cells in animals. The study provided the first molecular evidence that the leaf extract of ashwagandha is a natural source of anti-cancer medicine that selectively kills tumor cells. Memorial Sloan-Kettering also reports that ashwagandha slowed the growth of breast, lung and colon cancer cells.
* Ashwagandha. By: Clayton South (expert in the bodybuilding / fitness industry)