I’ve been taking Ashwagandha for 7 years on and off.  When you read the research, you start to question what Ashwagandha doesn’t treat.  It’s one of the best all-around supplements for general health.

ashwagandha

Contents

Introduction

Withania sominifera (WS) is known commonly as Ashwagandha, Indian ginseng, Poison gooseberry or Winter cherry.  It is a plant of the Solanaceae or nightshade family (R).

In Sanskrit, Ashwagandha, the Indian name for Withania Sominifera, means “odor of the horse”, probably originating from the odor of its root which resembles that of a sweaty horse (R).

Ashwagandha is also referred as “Indian ginseng”, since it is used in India, in a way similar to how ginseng is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a large variety of human diseases (R).

In Ayurveda, Ashwagandha is considered a “Rasayana” herb, an elixir that works, in a nonspecific, global fashion, to increase human health and longevity (R).

It is also considered an “Adaptogen”, a nontoxic medication that normalizes physiological functions disturbed by chronic stress, through correction of imbalances in the neuroendocrine and immune systems (R).

Although used as a broad spectrum remedy in India for centuries, and mentioned as the “Queen of Ayurveda” Ashwagandha has only recently been under investigation in laboratory settings (R).

Traditional Medicinal Uses

In Ayurveda, the fresh roots are sometimes boiled in milk prior to drying to leach out undesirable constituents (R).

The berries are used as a substitute for Rennet, to coagulate milk in cheese making (R).

Milk supplemented with Ashwagandha has been reported to increase total proteins and body weight (R).

A decoction of Ashwagandha root is used as nutrient and health restorative agent among postpartum ladies (R).

Ashwagandha is said to thicken and increase the nutritive value of the breastmilk when given to nursing mothers (R).

The Ashwagandha That I Take

Below, I give a bunch of different good options to buy Ashwagandha, but some people want to to know which one I take.

Ashwagandha

  • Longevity9.1/10
  • Inflammation8/10
  • Mood8.5/10
  • Cognition8.5/10
  • Energy8.6/10

Pros

  • Has a wide range of actions and can balance the body in many ways.
  • It stimulates the immune system, while also decreasing inflammation. Few herbs can accomplish this feat.
  • It’s gentle and can be taken daily. Other herbs have a higher potential for side effects.

Cons

  • You need to take more than one pill if you want to “feel it.”
  • It doesn’t taste good, so pill form can be better. Smells like horses.
  • Can’t be taken if pregnant, because it may induce abortion.

1) Ashwagandha is an Anti-Oxidant

Ashwaghanda Diagram

Ashwagandha (glycowithanolides) is an effective antioxidant (R).

Ashwagandha improved oxidative damage induced by streptozotocin in rats (R).

Chemoprotective activity of Ashwagandha may be due to its antioxidant and detoxifying properties (R).

Ashwagandha plays an antioxidative role in reducing kidney injury due to oxidative stress (R).

Ashwagandha administered once daily for 21 days, induced a dose-related increase in Superoxide Dismutase (SOD), catalase, and glutathione peroxidase in rats (R).

2) Ashwagandha is an Anti-Inflammatory

Ashwaghanda

Ashwagandha was found to stimulate immune activity and increased Natural Killer cell activity in mice (R1R2).

Ashwagandha extract was found to enhance the proliferation of lymphocytes, bone marrow cells and thyme cells in mice (R).

Ashwagandha increased the expression of Th1 cytokines  and stress-induced depleted T-cell population in chronically stressed mice (R1,R2).

Ashwagandha suppressed Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells (MDSC) and Tumor-Associated Macrophages (TAMs) (R).

Ashwagandha extract also showed an enhancement in activity of macrophages (R).

Joe’s Experience: Although Ashwagandha increases Th-1 (R), it’s more of an immune balancer.  Ashwagandha is one of the Th1 boosting supplements that I use that doesn’t cause me any problems.

3) Ashwagandha Combats Anxiety/Stress

Ashwagandha is specifically used as a tonic to calm the nerves (nervine) (R).

Ashwaghanda

Effects in humans:

Extracts of Ashwagandha may be useful in anxiety disorders for psychiatric practice in humans (R).

Root extract of Ashwagandha at high concentrations safely and effectively improved resistance towards stress and thereby improved self-assessed quality of life in human subjects (R).

Ashwagandha showed a significant decrease in cortisol levels and reduction in stress when compared to placebo (R) (R).  Cortisol, the body’s stress hormone, contributes to muscle loss and weakness, wrinkles, and cognitive impairment.

Ashwagandha extract improved auditory-verbal working memory in human subjects with bipolar disorder (R).

Effects in animals:

Ashwagandha is a mood stabilizer for anxiety/depression and Social Isolation induced behaviour in rats (R1,R2).

Ashwagandha extract was effective in treating Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in mice (R).

Ashwagandha was effective in the management of sleep loss and associated oxidative stress in mice (R).

Ashwagandha had significant anti-stress activity in rat models (R) and animals treated showed better stress tolerance (R).

Ashwagandha extract reduced chronic stress-induced ulcers than the drug rantidine (R), decline in sex drive (R) and coginitive impairment (rat models) (R).

Ashwagandha doubled the swimming performance in rats (R) and prevented, decrease of Adrenal cortisol and Ascorbic acid (which occur due to swimming stress) (R).

Mechanism:

Ashwagandha has been shown to have GABA-mimetic properties (R).

Ashwagandha has a sleep-promoting effect by a GABAergic mechanism (R).

4) Ashwagandha Enhances Brain Function

Ashwagandha belongs to a sub-group of “Rasayanas” (or elixir) known as “Medhyarasayanas” (Medhya refers to the mind and mental/intellectual capacity) (R).

Ashwagandha has a cognition promoting effect. It is useful in children with memory deficit and also prevents memory loss in old age people (R).

Relaxation, a benefit derived from the Ashwagandha’s stress-fighting effects, also improves long-term visual memory (R).

5) Ashwagandha Induces Fat Cell Death

Ashwagandha reduces fat cell viability and synthesis and also induces fat cell death (R).

Ashwagandha root extract can be used for body weight management in adults (R).

Supplementation of Ashwagandha decreased body fat percentage in people (R).

6-10) Ashwagandha Fights Infections

Ashwagandha (Withania sominifera glycoprotein) showed activity against most of the phytopathogenic fungi and bacteria tested (R).

Anti-fungal

Ashwagandha inhibited fungal growth by inhibiting spore germination and hyphal growth (R).

Ashwagandha showed potent antifungal activity against Aspergillus flavus, Fusarium oxysporum and F. verticilloides (R).

Anti-bacterial

Ashwagandha is widely used to treat Tuberculosis (R).

Ashwagandha showed  antibacterial activity against Clvibacter michiganensis subsp. michiganensis (R).

Ashwagandha was active against Staphylococcus aureus (SA) and Methicilin Resistance Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) (R).

Water extract of Ashwagandha inhibited the growth of gram negative N.gonorrhoea (R).

Oral administration of the water extracts successfully destroyed Salmonella infection in mice (R).

Anti-viral

Ashwagandha was found effective in patients with Acute Viral Hepatitis (R).

Water extract of Ashwagandha showed activity against Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (HSV-1) cell cultures (R).

Ashwagandha root extract had antiviral property against infectious Bursal Disease virus in cell cultures (R).

Ashwagandha is taken as a suppressant in HIV/AIDS patients (R).

Ashwagandha might be helpful in improving the HIV-1 associated neurocognitive impairments (R).

Anti-Parasitic

Ashwagandha is helpful in the treatment of Leishmaniasis (R).

Alcohol and water extracts of Ashwagandha are used to treat Malaria (R).

Ashwagandha showed a parasite suppressive effect on rodent malarial parasites (R).

11-22) Anti-Cancer Activity of Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha has potential against cancer-related fatigue, in addition to improving the quality of life (R).

Ashwagandha is a potent and relatively safe radiosensitizer/chemotherapeutic agent (R).

Ashwagandha improves the White Blood Cell (WBC) count and function, which are depleted in the chemotherapeutic treatment of cancer (R).

Water extract of Ashwagandha effectively increased the WBC counts in paclitaxel induced neutropenia (abnormally low concentration of neutrophils) in chemotherapy (R).

Breast Cancer

Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) inhibited the growth and cell migration of  human breast cancer cells (RR2).

Ashwagandha root extract significantly reduced the rate of cell division in breast tumors (R).

Mechanism:

Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) inhibited activation of STAT3 in human breast cancer cells (R).

Colon Cancer

Ashwagandha (Withaferin-A) exhibits activity against colon cancer (inhibits Notch-1) (R).

Alcohol extract of Ashwagandha leaves showed 98% growth inhibition of colon cancer cell lines (HCT-15) (R).

Brain Cancer

Ashwagandha leaves (Withaferin A, Withanone, Withanolide A) induce growth arrest and differentiation in brain cells and help in treating Glioblastoma (R).

Ashwagandha has anticancer activity against neuroblastoma cells (IMR-32) (R).

Stomach Cancer

Ashwagandha root (Withanolide sulfoxide) inhibits human stomach cancer cell lines (R).

Prostate Cancer

Ashwagandha showed anticancer activity against prostate cancer cell lines (R).

Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) inhibits tumor Proteosome in human prostate cancer cell cultures (R).

Lung Cancer

Ashwagandha is found effective against urethane induced lung-adenoma in mice (R).

Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) exhibited growth inhibition and cytotoxic activity against human lung cancer cell lines (NCI-H460) (R).

Kidney Cancer

Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) inhibited the growth of human kidney cancer cell lines (R).

Skin Cancer

Ashwagandha induced cell death in human melanoma cells (through generation of ROS) (R).

Ashwagandha was effective in treating human head and neck squamous carcinoma (R).

Long term treatment with Ashwagandha controlled dermatosarcoma (R).

Ashwagandha was effective in preventing skin carcinoma in UV B radiation-exposed animals (R).

Mechanism:

Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) inhibited cancer gene activation and mitochondrial dysfunction in skin epidermal cells (R).

Pancreatic Cancer

Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) exhibited anticancer activity against pancreatic cell lines (targets Hsp 90) (R).

Cervical Cancer

Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) is effective in the treatment and prevention of cervical cancer (R).

Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) decreased the expression of HPV cancer genes, resulting in the death of cervical cancer cells (R).

Others

Alcoholic extract of Ashwagandha root had a protective effect against Dalton’s Ascitic Lymphoma (DAL) (R).

Ashwagandha had anti-tumor effect on Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cell carcinoma (R).

Mechanism:

Ashwagandha decreases Nf-kB, suppresses TNF, and potentiates apoptosis in cancerous cell lines (R).

Ashwagandha slows down tumor growth and increases survival time (R).

Ashwagandha stimulates the generation of cytotoxic T lymphocytes, to reduce tumor growth (R).

Ashwagandha leaf extract (Withanone) causes selective killing of cancer cells by induction of ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species) (R).

23-28) Ashwagandha is Neuroprotective

Ashwagandha (metabolites of its constituents) when taken for 7 days, promoted the growth of nerves (R).

Alcohol extract of Ashwagandha promoted the formation of dendrites (R).

Ashwagandha is also useful for neuro-muscular co-ordination (R).

Ashwagandha has potential neuroprotective role for acute stress in rats (R).

Water extract of Ashwagandha leaves protect human neuroblastoma cells against glutamate-induced excitotoxicity (R).

Ashwagandha root extract could be useful for the treatment of drug induced dyskinesia (abnormality or impairment of voluntary movement) (R).

Ashwagandha, also showed neurite extension in normal and damaged cortical neurons (R).

Ashwagandha (Alcoholic extract) was effective against scopalamine-induced amnesia in mouse and brain cell culture models (R).

Ashwagandha was found useful in neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s (R).

There are several studies which show that Ashwagandha slows, stops, reverses or removes neuritic atrophy and synaptic loss (R).

Alzheimer’s Disease

Ashwagandha reversed the behavioral deficits and pathology seen in Alzheimer’s disease models (R).

Orally administered Ashwagandha (Withanoside IV) may improve neuronal dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease (R).

Ashwagandha significantly reversed ibotenic acid induced cognitive defects in Alzheimer’s disease model (R).

Parkinson’s Disease

Ashwagandha improves catecholamines, oxidative damage and physiological abnormalities seen in a Parkinson’s disease model mouse (R).

Ashwagandha root extract showed an improvement in the behavioral, anatomical and the biochemical deformities in Parkinsonian mice (R).

Huntington’s Disease

Ashwagandha had a neuroprotective effect on the behavioral, biochemical, and mitochondrial dysfunction in an animal model of Huntington’s disease (R).

Schizophrenia

Ashwagandha was found to be effective for Schizophrenic patients (R).

Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

A combination herbal product containing Ashwagandha may improve attention and impulse control in children with ADHD. The effect of Ashwagandha alone is unclear.

29) Ashwagandha Promotes Heart Health

Constituents of Ashwagandha are demonstrated to exhibit a favourable “tonic” effect on heart (R).

Ashwagandha treatment found to increase the heart rate, contractility and relaxation (R).

Ashwagandha has been reported to reduce blood pressure (due to automatic ganglion blocking action) (R).

Ashwagandha has a profound activity to reduce cholesterol and prevent hardening of arteries (R).

Ashwagandha root powder when given at 0.75 to 1.5 gms/day to rats with high cholesterol showed a significant decrease in triglycerides (31.25% to  44.85%) (R).

Ashwagandha has been found to protect the heart in different models of stress and injury

  • Ashwagandha improved the cardiorespiratory endurance of elite athletes (R).
  • Ashwagandha was protective against oxidative damage in isoproterenol (ISO)-induced heart attack in rats (R).
  • Ashwagandha extract provides protection against doxorubicin associated toxicity of heart (R).
  • Ashwagandha showed a protective effect in ischemic stroke in rats (R).
  • Ashwagandha has been found protective in isoproterenol-induced ischemic rats (R).
  • At 50mg/Kg  dose, it was found to be the most effective in the functional recovery of the heart in rats (R).
  • Supplementation of Ashwagandha with milk is recommended in treatment of stress-oriented hypertension (R).

30) Ashwagandha is Anti-Diabetic

Ashwagandha favorably alters blood and urine glucose levels, glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C) and liver enzymes in diabetic rats (R).

Ashwagandha root was able to induce low blood sugar in humans with type 2 diabetes (R).

Ashwagandha reduced blood glucose levels in alloxan-induced diabetic rats (R).

Ashwagandha normalized excess blood sugar in type 2 diabetic rats (by improving insulin sensitivity) (R).

Ashwagandha along with “Shilajit” extract had considerably reduced symptoms related to diabetes, average fasting blood sugar and cholesterol profiles in human subjects (R).

Ashwagandha decreased blood glucose level, prevented excess levels of insulin and improved glucose tolerance in type 2 diabetic rats (R).

Ashwagandha improved diabetes-induced testicular dysfunctions in prepubertal rats (R).

Ashwagandha could prevent glycation induced Diabetes (R).

Administration of Ashwagandha for two months could be helpful for the treatment of painful diabetic neuropathy in rats (R).

Ashwagandha had shown strong free radical scavenging activity and helped in improving antioxidant status in type 2 diabetic rats (R).

Withaferin A is partially responsible for Ashwagandha’s anti-diabetic activity (R).

31-32) Ashwagandha Reduces Pain/Fever

Ashwagandha is a pain reliever that soothes the nervous system from pain responses (R).

Ashwagandha (1000 mg/kg/oral) produced significant pain relief for rats experiencing heat induced by hot plate method (R).

Ashwagandha reduce fever as well (R).

33-36) Ashwagandha for Women

Relieves menopausal symptoms

Ashwagandha is effective in the management of menopausal syndrome (R).

It stimulates the hormonal glands and helps regulate the secretion of hormones during menopause (R).

Ashwagandha is also effective in reducing symptoms such as hot flashes, mood fluctuations and anxiety (R).

Ashwagandha root extract stimulates thyroidal activity and also enhances the antiperoxidation of liver tissue (R).

Ashwagandha relaxes the mind and decreases anxiety, thus stabilizing the mood in patients with behavioral disturbances (R), including menopause.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Ashwagandha was one of the components of a polyherbal Ayurvedic preparation called “Testo” (at a concentration of 25 mg) which showed a significant relief in patients with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (R).

Amenorrhoea

Ashwagandha is best for treating Amenorrhoea (an abnormal absence of mensturation) (R).

Controls Uterine fibroids

Long term treatment with Ashwagandha controlled uterine fibroids (non-cancerous growths that develop in the muscular walls of uterus) (R).

37) Ashwagandha Improves Fertility

Ashwagandha is attributed in Ayurveda for the treatment of oligospermia that causes infertility in male mice (R).

Ashwagandha can balance hormones and improve fertility by promoting relaxation and decreasing stress (R).

Ashwagandha increased the Luteinizing hormone (LH) towards normal in infertile males (R).

Levels of Testosterone (T) were increased in infertile subjects after treatment with Ashwagandha (R).

Ashwagandha improves the functioning of the thyroid gland, which is responsible for regulating reproductive hormones (R).

Ashwagandha is useful for treating Hypogonadism in males (R).

Ashwagandha is effective in restoring male reproductive health. It improves semen quality (R) and sex hormones in infertile men (R).

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) plant powder for 60 days significantly improved the weights of testes, accessory sex organs in male rats (R).

Ashwagandha is effective in restoration of spermatozoa in mice (R).

Ashwagandha has been found to counteract the formation of ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species) in infertile men (R).

Ashwagandha root extract was effective in increasing sexual competence in male rats (R).

Ashwagandha (due to its phytoremedial effect) is one of the best antidotes against arsenic-induced reproductive toxicity in rats (R).

Ashwagandha is also effective on seminal metabolites in infertile males (R).

Ashwagandha is effective in management of psychological-based erectile dysfunction in male patients (R).

38) Ashwagandha Reduces Autoimmune Diseases

Ashwagandha root powder had a preventative effect on the mouse model with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) (R).

Ashwagandha root powder reduced inflammation in pristane-induced model of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (R).

39) Ashwagandha Promotes Bone Health

Ashwagandha stimulates bone formation and is a bone building agent (R).

Ashwagandha supplementation improved Calcium retention and bone calcification (R).

Ashwagandha had beneficial effects on tibia bone Calcium and Phosphorus content on productive performance of hens without any adverse effects (R).

Leaves of Ashwagandha were effective in preserving bone loss in mice (by both inhibition of resorption and stimulation of new bone formation before onset of osteoporosis) (R).

Ashwagandha root powder had a protective effect on adjuvant-induced arthritis in rats (R).

Ashwagandha improved bone calcification in calcium deficient rats without ovaries (R).

Ashwagandha root powder suppressed gouty arthritis in rats (R).

Water extract of Ashwagandha root powder has chondroprotective effect in osteoarthritis (R).

40-44) Hormonal Interactions of Ashwagandha

Testesterone

Levels of Testosterone (T) were increased in infertile subjects after treatment with Ashwagandha (R).

Estrogen

Ashwagandha acts as an anti-estrogen in human breast cancer cells, but this may not apply to normal cells (R).

Luteinizing Hormone

Ashwagandha increased the Luteinizing hormone (LH) towards normal in infertile males (R).

Follicle Stimulating Hormone

Levels of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) were increased in infertile males when treated with Ashwagandha (R).

Thyroid Hormone

Ashwagandha stimulated the fuction of Thyroid hormone in female mice (R).

Ashwagandha could enhance only T4  (Thyroxine) concentration in female mice (R).

Ashwagandha root extract stimulated thyroidal activity in adult male mice (R).

Ashwagandha improved metformin induced hypothyroidism in Type 2 diabetic mice (R).

Water extract of Ashwagandha given for 20 days is effective in treating Hypothyroidism (R).

Ashwagandha also prevents Goitre (an enlarged Thyroid) (R).

45) Ashwagandha Protects the Liver

Ashwagandha significantly increases Bile acid content of the liver in rats with high cholesterol (R).

Ashwagandha decreased circulating liver enzymes (Glucose-6-phosphatase), glycogen and restored them to normal levels in alloxan-induced diabetic rats (R).

Ashwagandha prevents ionizing irradiation induced liver toxicity disorders in rats (R).

Ashwagandha is protective to liver in rats against heavy metals (R).

46) Ashwagandha is Good for the Gut

An enema of Ashwagandha water extract is prescribed for intestinal ulcers, irritable bowel and rectal bleeding (R).

Water extracts of Ashwagandha roots restores mucous in rats with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) (R).

Ashwagandha also prevents constipation.

Ashwagandha is used to prevent and treat Hemorrhoids (swollen veins located around the anus or in the lower rectum).

47) Ashwagandha Protects Pancreatic Cells

Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) could be incorporated as a supportive treatment to improve pancreatic transplant outcome (R).

Ashwagandha is protective against pancreatic cell damage in Type 2 diabetic rats (R).

48) Ashwagandha Protects Kidneys

Ashwagandha root extract protects kidney from gentamycin induced toxicity (R).

Ashwagandha was an effective curative for kidney corpuscles from carbendazim-induced damage (R).

49) Ashwagandha Prevents Respiratory Problems

Purified Polysaccharides from Ashwagandha often acts as a cough suppressant in guinea pigs (R1R2).

Two teaspoons of Ashwagandha given three times a day helps fast recovery from Bronchitis (R).

50) Ashwagandha for Skin

Ashwagandha (paste of boiled leaves) is frequently used to cure wounds, scabies, ringworms, leucoderma (R), Leprosy (R) and Acne.

Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) prevents white spots on the skin (avoids the risk of hypopigmentation of skin) (R).

Ashwagandha root extracts induced skin darkening in wall lizard melanophores (R).

51) Ashwagandha May Reduce Morphine Dependence

Ashwagandha may help reduce dependence on Morphine (R).

Ashwagandha suppressed Morphine withdrawal jumps – a sign of development of dependence to morphine (R).

52) Ashwagandha for Genetic Diseases

Ashwagandha was effective in the treatment of the genetic disease “Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia” (overgrowth of adrenal gland) in a 57 year-old women (R).

Ashwagandha is also effective in treating symptoms of Down’s Syndrome (R)

53) Ashwagandha Helps Muscle Growth

There was a significant increase in the body weight of rats treated with Ashwagandha when compared to the control (R).

Ashwagandha supplementation significantly increased muscle mass and strength in young men (R), and may be useful together with a Resistance Training Program (R).

Ashwagandha was effective in treating patients with Sarcopenia (the loss of muscle mass and strength as a result of ageing) (R).

Ashwagandha appeared safe and strengthened muscle activity (R).

54) Ashwagandha For Longevity

Leaf extracts of Ashwagandha (i-Extract) has anti-aging properties (R).

It is also claimed to have potent aphrodisiac rejuvenative and life prolonging properties (R).

55) Ashwagandha Prevents Seizures

Ashwagandha has been used for centuries to control seizures (R).

Ashwagandha had suppressed the PTZ (Pentylenetetrazole) kindling seizures in ethanol withdrawal animals (R).

Ashwagandha is also a component of “Siotone” granules which provide significant protection against pentylenetetrazol-, maximal electroshock- and strychnine-induced convulsions (R).

56) Ashwagandha Reduces Age-Related Cataracts

Ashwagandha was able to retard the formation of cataracts in cells (R).

Ashwagandha plant extract also prevents “diabetic cataracts”, an effect caused due to chronically high blood sugar (R).

Ashwagandha has optimum protective effect against selenite-induced oxidative damage lenses (R).

Ashwagandha is widely used to treat conjunctivitis (R).

57) Ashwagandha Protects Against Industrial Toxins

Ashwagandha leaf extract protects normal human cells against the toxicity of methoxyacetic acid (a major industrial metabolite) (R).

Ashwagandha is also shown to be effective against diesel exhaust, heavy metals and pesticides that harm the various organ systems in the body (R).

58) Effect of Ashwagandha on Blood Cells

Ashwagandha (Withaferin A) triggers suicidal blood cell death (R).

Ashwagandha (leaves) was effective in curing Anaemia prominent in rural women in India (R).

Ashwagandha has the potential to increase red blood cells (R).

Ashwagandha root extract was found to also enhance the total White Blood Cell count (R).

Ashwagandha with milk injection increased white blood cells in animals with low levels (R).

59) Ashwagandha is an Effective Anti-Venom

External application of the plant extract is an antidote to snakebite in rural parts of India (R1, R2).

A glycoprotein purified from Ashwagandha inhibited the hyaluronidase activity of cobra (Naja Naja) and viper (Daboi russelii) venoms (R).

Ashwagandha root in combination with other drugs is prescribed for snake venom as well as for scorpion-sting (R).

Ashwagandha Synergies

Ashwagandha along with Aloe vera lowered the blood glucose level in streptozotocin (STZ) diabetic mice (R).

Ashwagandha is synergistic with Diazepam in protection against social isolation induced behavior in rats (R).

Ashwagandha is synergistic with Vitamin D (1,25 (OH)2 D3) to help in Calcium retention and bone calcification (R).

A combination of Maitake mushroom-derived glucan and Ashwagandha extracts, has strong biological effects related to immune health and stress reduction (R).

Ashwagandha along with Anti-tubecular drugs and Chyawanprash (a multi-herbal formulation) were effective in the management of lung Tuberculosis (R).

Parts Used

The Root of Ashwagandha is regarded as a tonic, aphrodisiac, narcotic, diuretic, antiparasitic, astringent, thermogenic and stimulant (R). It is an important ingredient of more than 200 formulations in traditional systems of medicine like Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani (R).

Leaves are bitter and have a characteristic odor, are recommended for fever and painful swellings (R).

The flowers are astringent, depurative, diuretic and aphrodisiac (R).

Seeds are antiparasitic (R).

In Ayurveda, berries and tender leaves are prescribed to be applied externally to tumors, tubercular glands, carbuncles, and ulcers (R).

Other useful parts are stem, fruits,  and bark (R).

Active Chemical Constituents

The biologically active chemical constituents are Alkaloids (isopelletierine, anaferine), Steroidal lactones (Withanolides, Withaferins) (R).

Other components are Saponins (Sitoindoside VII and VIII), and Withanolides (sitoindoside IX and X) (R).

Ashwagandha is also known to structure a wide-range of low molecular weight secondary metabolites like Terpenoids, Flavonoids, Tannins, Phenols, and Resins (R).

The extract of leaves showed the presence of Carbohydrates, Glycosidal sugars, Proteins and Amino acids (R).

It is also a rich source of Iron (R).

Dosage

A typical dose of Ashwagandha is 3-6 gms daily of the dried root, and 300-500mg of the extract (R).

Maximum benefits appear when fresh Ashwagandha powder is used (R).

In addition to the powder form, mild decotions, alcoholic extracts, mixed with ghee or honey or as a topical oil are also effective formulations.

Ashwagandha extract was safe when given orally up to 1500mg/kg to rats for 6 months (R).

Hydroalcoholic extract of Ashwagandha at 2000 mg/kg body weight per day had no adverse effects when given to rats and hence may be considered as non-toxic (R).

Side Effects

Ashwagandha is generally safe when taken in the prescribed dosage range (R).

Large doses of Ashwagandha can cause abdominal discomfort and diarrhea (R).

Hyperthyroidism is potentially a serious side effect of Ashwagandha (R).

Ashwgandha use may possibly cause hirsutism (abnormal growth of hair on women’s face) (R).

Contraindications

Ashwagandha is contraindicated during pregnancy since large doses may possess aborting properties (R).

Since Ashwasgandha acts as the mild brain depressant, patients should avoid alcohol, sedative and other anti-anxiety drugs while taking ashwagandha (R).

Since Ashwagandha has the potential to raise thyroid hormone levels, it should not be used by people with hyperthyroidism.

EBSCO, an online database, cautions that Ashwagandha is a sedative and it interacts with sedative drugs.

Buying Ashwagandha: What Joe Uses

Ashwagandha is a very gentle herb, but this also means you likely won’t feel that much with one pill.  I personally need to take a few pills to feel relaxing properties.

The reason there are many different products you can purchase is because there are many types of Ashwagandha that are good.

Withanolides are the most active ingredients, so getting those in a good percentage (2.5% or more) can be good.

On the other hand, a full spectrum extract as provided by Paradise Herbs makes sense for the average person.

The best approach is try out different brands and see which you do best with. Everyone is different.

Joe’s Favorite:

Molecular Targets

Anticancer activity

  • Inactivates the TPX2-Aurora A complex (R).
  • Inhibits Proteasome (R).
  • Decreased the expression of anti-apoptopic proteins Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL (R).
  • Inhibits Survivin and Mortalin (R1,R2).
  • Inhibits Hsp90 transmission (R).
  • Activates Bax/Bak (R).
  • Inhibits STAT 3 (R).
  • Inhibits Notch-1 (R).
  • Inhibits COX-2 enzyme (R).
  • Suppresses the increase of acetyl-coA carboxylase-1 (R).
  • activates Notch-2, Notch-4

Leishmaniasis

  • Inhibits Leishmanial Protein Kinase C (LPKC) (R).

Anti-aging activity

  • Decreases p21 (WAF-1) protein (R).

Neuroprotection activity

Anti-stress activity

  • Induces Nrf2 protein (R).
  • Suppresses nNOS (neuronal Nitric Oxide Synthase) and glutamate

Bone protective activity

  • Decreases receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-B (R).
  • Decreases expression of E3 ubiquitin ligase, Smad ubiquitin regulatory factor 2 (Smurf2) (R).

Anti-inflammatory activity

  • Increased the expression of CD4 on CD3+ T cells (R).
  • Increases expression of IL-2 and IFN-gamma (R).

Antimicrobial activity

  • Increases IL-7 (R).

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16 COMMENTS

  • Judy

    Hi.I took Ashtawangha to balance my female hormones but it reduced my irritability due to stress and allowed me to sleep well. I had a daily break yesterday after 2 weeks of 500mg dosage for the night. I had headache yesterday and took one pill today in the morning. In 2 weeks I have a big high performance exam and am wondering if I should continue taking the dosage or increase it to 1g. I administered myself this “drug”. Actually Lavandin Oil works similarily on me.Is there any chance that it will improve my mental performance or may it slow me down?
    Please let me know about your experiences. THANKS.

  • Traci

    You’re going to advise the guy to quit taking it without asking him about his dose or anything? Sometimes it takes your body time to adjust.

  • minnymoo69

    I have been taking the Paradise Ashwagandha for 4 days but am finding it is causing extreme fatigue and depression. It does seem to be helping with pain though. Is this fatigue normal? Will it settle down or should I stop taking it.

    Thank you

    1. Nattha Wannissorn, PhD

      No. Don’t take it.

  • Mr. Sick

    Hey,
    I wonder if anyone got an idea, why in some people Ashwagandha doesn’t improve sleep, but gives a person with quite normal sleep insomnia.
    This is what happened to me last week.
    I am really frustrated. I LOVE what this herb is doing for me during the day, but at night it messes up my sleep and counteracts all of the good stuff.
    Unfortunately, I have the same issues with Magnesium and Zinc. At first, they do good and I have positive effects from them, but as the days go by I get more and more insomnia.

    I wonder if those things make too much GABA and this is disrupting my sleep? I read that this could lower Serotonin and thus impair sleep.
    It’s so strange….

    1. Sam Harris

      I have a similar reaction. Spend 200 and get your geneome profiled at 23 and me. See if you have mthfr issues. I do.

      1. Nattha Wannissorn

        You can spend $100 to get the ancestry DNA service at 23andme, and then spend another $19 to run it on SelfDecode. It actually shows you a lot more interesting thing.

      2. Gregor Bellinger

        Thanks for your answer Sam! Would you mind telling me what steps you took to counteract your MTHFR issues? Did you just take Methylfolate?

  • SJWsraiseMommasBoys

    Ashwagandha is awful for anyone with stomach issues. I am sick of seeing fauxperts claim it’s a miracle.

  • Kent White

    Does Ashwagandha need to be cycled (taking a break) in order to maintain effectiveness? If so, what duration? I’ve been taking it all year and actually never want to go off it.

    1. Joseph M. Cohen

      no

  • TH

    “Ashwagandha seems to have some evidence to suggest that it can increase 5-HT2 receptor signalling while reducing 5-HT1A receptor signalling, thus repartitioning serotonin signalling”

    from the examine page, in reference to:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22556838

    thoughts?

    1. Joseph M. Cohen

      Interesting 🙂

  • Marck

    Hi Joe,

    It doesn’t relate strictly to this article but more in general.

    I honestly don’t think you should include mice studies in your articles. I mean, if you were actively involved in research you would know that we can cure mice of literally everything from cancer to Alzheimer’s. It’s very misleading to suggests that this actually means anything – because in almost all cases it doesn’t. Despite relatively similar genetics, mice are more and more considered unsuitable model, as many studies which suggest positive effects in mice have no or even negative effects in humans. Ultimately, only human studies matter and you might want to know that many of these mouse studies were probably followed-up in humans but probably didn’t show anything (or showed negative results) and hence were not published!

    I won’t even mention in vitro cell studies as these are almost completely irrelevant unless there is a massively statistically significant effect that can be somehow supported by function hypothesis. Otherwise, taking cells in culture environment and suggesting that the same effect might occur in a complex organism is ridiculous.

    Don’t take it personally but that’s the truth. You might do more harm and good, and I assume you could answer that everybody should experiments for themselves, but… indicating that such things will have any effects is definitely not the way to go.

    Best,

    Marck

    1. Joseph M. Cohen

      I appreciate your insights, but I vehemently disagree. Animal studies have been very helpful for giving me leads to try out and be helped by. People can decide for themselves if they want to try something out because of an animal study.

      I am not saying because an animal study says something, it will necessarily work on humans. But it’s enough to experiment with something that’s safe. The only alternative is to not experiment or experiment randomly. The choice is for an individual to make.

    2. Astral Pharoh

      Do you really think these scientist would waste there time and money experimenting on rats if it was useless? Animal studies are not 100% accurate to human studies but there close. I do agree vitro studies are nonsense tho. The fact that you think negative studies don’t get published is ludacris.

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