Ashwagandha — Withania somnifera

Withania somnifera - Cerro de Los Angeles.jpgFamily: Solanaceae

Part used: Root.

Indications: Anorexia, bronchitis, asthma, consumption, leucoderma, edema, asthenia, anemia, exhaustion, aging, insomnia, ADD/ADHD, infertility, impotence, repeated miscarriage, paralysis, memory loss, multiple sclerosis, immune dysfunction, cancer, rheumatism, arthritis, lumbago.

Contraindications: Caution should be used with clients on anticonvulsants, barbituates and benzodiazepines due to its GABA-nergic and sedative properties. Ashwagandha is traditionally avoided in lymphatic congestion, during colds and flu, or symptoms of ama.

Medicinal uses: Ashwagandha is often considered the Indian equivalent to Ginseng (Panax ginseng), but unlike Ginseng, Ashwagandha has a sedative (nidrajanana) rather than stimulant action on the central nervous system, making it a superior medicine for exhaustion with nervous irritability.

Ashwagandha is a useful nervine, taken before bed to relax and nourish the body in deficiency diseases, but is only seen to be efficacious when taken on a sustained basis – it is not a sufficient sedative to treat acute insomnia. For poor memory, lack of concentration and in the treatment of ADD/ADHD Ashwagandha may be used in equal proportions with Brahmi and Ling zhi (Ganoderma lucidum). Ashwagandha is widely used in any debility, emaciation or consumptive condition, in both adults and children. Ashwagandha is an important herb forsexual potency of a stallion, used in the treatment of infertility, impotence and “seminal depletion”. When mixed with equal parts Shatavari, it is an appropriate treatment for female infertility and frigidity, useful in threatened miscarriage, and is an excellent post-partum restorative. In the treatment of infertility in both sexes a simple decoction of Ashwagandha in milk is indicated, taken with ghee as an anupana.

Ashwagandha is used in the treatment of antiinflammatory joint disease, but may facilitate the production of ama, and thus an eliminative regimen is best implemented prior to using this botanical. Likewise, Ashwagandha is an appropriate remedy in the treatment of asthma and bronchitis, but should be used concurrently with dravyas that have a dipanapachana property to avoid the production of ama.

Ashwagandha can be used to wean a patient off of corticosteroid therapy, or may be used in place of it.