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Ashwagandha is a traditional remedy for stress; it is under investigation for its potential to boost immune function.
In a study of 133 people with tuberculosis, ashwagandha and other herbals in combination with antibiotics relieved coughing and fever better than antibiotics alone. In another study of 99 people with tuberculosis, ashwagandha improved symptoms, inflammation, and body weight [2, 3].
An herbal remedy containing ashwagandha sped up recovery from viral hepatitis in 29 patients .
In chicken infected with infectious bursal disease virus, dietary supplementation with ashwagandha reduced viral load and increased T cell activity .
A computational simulation study found that withaferin A has the potential to block an enzyme required by the virus that caused the 2009 swine flu pandemic (H1N1) to spread (neuraminidase) .
In asthmatic mice, pretreatment with withaferin A reduced airway inflammation, injury, and scarring. This compound also had anti-inflammatory effects in human cells isolated from the airway lining [16, 17].
In a small trial of 5 people, ashwagandha extract improved the immune response by activating white blood cells. In two other trials on 142 people, an herbal mix containing ashwagandha increased the activity of natural killer cells [18, 19].
Finally, in a combined mouse and cell study, withaferin A inhibited the activity of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs). These dysfunctional immune cells can stimulate tumor growth and prevent the immune system from attacking cancer cells [23, 24].