Latin name: Withania somnifera
Other names: Indian ginseng, winter cherry

What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha has been used medicinally since ancient times. Medicinal ashwagandha is prepared from the roots of Withania somnifera, a small shrub that belongs to the nightshade family and grows mainly in India and Africa. Ashwagandha is a Sanskrit name that translates to “horse’s smell” because its roots have a certain sweaty horse odor. In Ayurvedic medicine it is used for a wide number of conditions, similar to how ginseng is used in traditional Chinese medicine.

What are the health benefits of Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is claimed to be a longevity herb. The active components in ashwagandha have been found to stimulate the immune system, inhibit inflammation, and improve memory. Antioxidants found in this plant are believed to be responsible for the anti-stress, anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, and anti-aging properties of ashwagandha. Clinical trials are in progress to see if ashwagandha is useful for treating diabetes, bipolar disorder, Parkinson’s disease, and bone cancer, although results are not yet available.

What are the guidelines for taking Ashwagandha?
Recommended dosages are approximately 3 to 6 grams per day of the dried root. To make tea, 3 to 6 grams of ashwagandha root are boiled in 1 1/2 cups of water for 15 minutes. Three cups of tea may be drunk daily. Ashwagandha is also available in capsule, tablet, powder and tincture form. There are no significant side effects known.

Where can I find Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha can be found online and at the offices of Ayurvedic practitioners.

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This entry was posted in Herbs, Natural Health Dictionary.