Withania ashwagandha

Kaul (cultivated var.)

Withania. somnifera (Linn.) Dunal (Chemotype

I, II, III: Israele.)

withania somnifera.jpg

Family _ Solanaceae.

Habitat _ Throughout the drier and

subtropical parts of India.

English _ Winter Cherry. (Physalis

alkekengi is also known as Winter


Ayurvedic _ Ashwagandhaa, Hayagandhaa,

Ashwakanda, Gandharvagandhaa,

Turaga, Turagagandhaa,

Turangagandhaa, Vaajigandhaa,

Gokarnaa, Vrishaa, Varaahakarni,

Varadaa, Balyaa, Vaajikari. (A

substitute for Kaakoli and Kshirakaakoli.)

Cultivated var.: Asgandh

Naagori. (Indian botanists consider

the cultivated plants distinct from

the wild ones.)

Unani _ Asgandh.

Siddha _ Amukkuramkizhangu.

Action _ Root—used as an antiinflammatory

drug for swellings,

tumours, scrofula and rheumatism;

and as a sedative and hypnotic

in anxiety neurosis. Leaf—

anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective,

antibacterial. Fruits and

seeds—diuretic. Withanine—

sedative, hypnotic. Withaferin

A—major component of biologically

active steroids; as effective

as hydrocortisone dose for dose.

Antibacterial, antitumour, antiarthritic,

significantly protective

against hepatotoxicity in rats.

The root contains several alkaloids,

including withanine, withananine,

withananinine, pseudo-withanine,

somnine, somniferine, somniferinine.

The leaves of Indian chemotype contain

withanolides, including withaferin

A. Steroidal lactones of withanolide

series have been isolated.

Withanine is sedative and hypnotic.

Withaferin A is antitumour, antiarthritic

and antibacterial. Anti-inflammatory

activity has been attributed

to biologically active steroids, of

which withaferin A is a major component.

The activity is comparable to that

of hydrocortisone sodium succinate.

Withaferin A also showed significantly

protective effect against CCl

induced hepatotoxicity in rats. It was

as effective as hydrocortisone dose for


e root extract contains an ingredient

which has GABA mimetic activity.

The free amino acids present in the

root include aspartic acid, glycine, tyrosine,

alanine, proline, tryptophan,

glutamic acid and cystine.

The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India

recommends Ashwagandha in impotency.

This claim could not be sustained

in a recent experiment and raises

a doubt about the equation of classical

Ashwagandha with Withania somnifera.

A methanolic extract of Withania

somnifera root induced a marked

impairment in libido, sexual performance,

sexual vigour and penile dysfunction

in male rats. (Llayperuma et

al, Asian J Androl,

The total alkaloids of the root exhibited

prolonged hypotensive, bradycardiac

and depressant action of the

higher cerebral centres in several experimental


Awithanolide-free aqueous fraction

isolated from the roots of Withania

somnifera exhibited antistress activity

in a dose-dependent manner in mice.

Dosage _ Root—24 g powder.

Medicinal plants of India ; Ayurveda

Encyclopedia of Indian Medicinal Plants/Herbs mainly using in Ayurveda with good quality pictures and information like therapeutic usage of Medicinal Plants, cultivation, morphology, habitat, flower characters, Chemical content, parts used, research works etc.

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