En Español
Health Encyclopedia

Nutritional Supplement

Ashwagandha

Parts Used & Where Grown

Ashwagandha, which belongs to the pepper family, is found in India and Africa. The roots of ashwagandha are used medicinally.

How It Works

The constituents believed to be active in ashwagandha have been extensively studied.1 Compounds known as withanolides are believed to account for the multiple medicinal applications of ashwagandha.2 These molecules are steroidal and bear a resemblance, both in their action and appearance, to the active constituents of Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) known as ginsenosides. Indeed, ashwagandha has been called “Indian ginseng” by some. Ashwagandha and its withanolides have been extensively researched in a variety of animal studies examining effects on immune function, inflammation, and even cancer. Ashwagandha stimulates the activation of immune system cells, such as lymphocytes.2 It has also been shown to inhibit inflammation4 and improve memory in animal experiments.5 Taken together, these actions may support the traditional reputation of ashwagandha as a tonic or adaptogen1—an herb with multiple, nonspecific actions that counteract the effects of stress and generally promote wellness.

References

1. Bone K. Clinical Applications of Ayurvedic and Chinese Herbs. Queensland, Australia: Phytotherapy Press, 1996, 137-41.

2. Wagner H, Nörr H, Winterhoff H. Plant adaptogens. Phytomedicine 1994;1:63-76.

3. Anabalgan K, Sadique J. Antiinflammatory activity of Withania somnifera. Indian J Exp Biol 1981;19:245-9.

4. Bhattacharya SK, Kumar A, Ghosal S. Effects of glycowithanolides from Withania somnifera on an animal model of Alzheimer's disease and perturbed central cholinergic markers of cognition in rats. Phytother Res 1995;9:110-3.

5. Safayhi H, Mack T, Saieraj J, et al. Boswellic acids: Novel, specific, nonredox inhibitors of 5-lipoxygenase. J Pharmacol Exp Ther 1992;261:1143-6.

6. Kimmatkar N, Thawani V, Hingorani L, Khiyani R. Efficacy and tolerability of Boswellia serrata extract in treatment of osteoarthritis of knee - a randomized double blind placebo controlled trial. Phytomedicine 2003;10:3-7.

7. Sontakke S, Thawani V, Pimpalkhute S, et al. Open, randomized, controlled clinical trial of Boswellia serrata extract as compared to valdecoxib in osteoarthritis of knee. Indian J Pharmacol 2007;39:27-9.

8. Kulkarni RR, Patki PS, Jog VP, et al. Treatment of osteoarthritis with a herbomineral formulation: A double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study. J Ethnopharmacol 1991;33:91-5.

9. Wagner H, Nörr H, Winterhoff H. Plant adaptogens. Phytomedicine 1994;1:63-76.

10. Bone K. Clinical Applications of Ayurvedic and Chinese Herbs. Queensland, Australia: Phytotherapy Press, 1996, 137-41.

11. Brekhman II, Dardymov IV. New substances of plant origin which increase nonspecific resistance. Annu Rev Pharmacol 1969;9:419-30 [review].

12. Panossian A, Wikman G, Wagner H. Plant adaptogens. III. Earlier and more recent aspects and concepts on their mode of action. Phytomedicine 1999;6:287-300 [review].

13. Rege NN, Thatte UM, Dahanukar SA. Adaptogenic properties of six rasayana herbs used in Ayurvedic medicine. Phytother Res 1999;13:275-91 [review].

14. Wagner H, Nörr H, Winterhoff H. Plant adaptogens. Phytomedicine 1994;1:63-76.

15. Bhattacharya S, Goel R, Kaur R, Ghosal S. Anti-stress activity of sitoindosides VII and VIII, new acylsterylglucosides from Withania somnifera. Phytother Res 1987;1:32-39.

16. Grandhi A, Mujumdar AM, Patwardhan B. A comparative pharmacological investigation of Ashwagandha and Ginseng. J Ethnopharmacol 1994;44:131-5.

17. Dhuley JN. Effect of ashwagandha on lipid peroxidation in stress-induced animals. J Ethnopharmacol1998;60:173-8.

18. Bhattacharya SK, Muruganandam AV. Adaptogenic activity of Withania somnifera: an experimental study using a rat model of chronic stress. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 2003;75:547-55.

19. Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, Anishetty S. A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian J Psychol Med 2012;34:255-62.

20. Gopinathan PM, Grover SK, Gupta AK, Srivastava KK. Effects of a composite Indian herbal preparation on combat effectiveness in low-intensity-conflict operations. Mil Med1999;164:814-9.

21. Duke JA. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985, 514-5.

22. Bone K. Clinical Applications of Ayurvedic and Chinese Herbs. Queensland, Australia: Phytotherapy Press, 1996, 137-41.

23. Ashwagandha. NIH US National Library of Medicine: Medline Plus [last reviewed 2017 Oct 31]. Available from URL: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/953.html#Safety.

24. Mills E, Dugoua J, Perri D, Koren G. Herbal Medicines in Pregnancy and Lactation: An Evidence-Based Approach. London, England:Taylor and Francis;2006:35.

25. Dhar N, Razdan S, Rana S, et al. A Decade of Molecular Understanding of Withanolide Biosynthesis and In Vitro Studies in Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal: Prospects and Perspectives for Pathway Engineering. Front Plant Sci 2015;6:1031.

26. Mirjalili M, Moyano E, Bonfill M, et al. Steroidal lactones from Withania somnifera, an ancient plant for novel medicine. Molecules 2009;14:2373–93.

27. Prabu P, Panchapakesan S. Prenatal developmental toxicity evaluation of Withania somnifera root extract in Wistar rats. Drug Chem Toxicol 2015;38:50–6.

28. Moteetee A, Seleteng Kose L. Medicinal plants used in Lesotho for treatment of reproductive and post reproductive problems. J Ethnopharmacol 2016;194:827–49.

29. Gardner C, McGuffin M, eds. American Herbal Product Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook, Second Edition. Boca Raton, FL:CRC Press;2013:936.

Copyright © 2020 TraceGains, Inc. All rights reserved.

Learn more about TraceGains, the company.

The information presented by TraceGains is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2020.

Copyright © 2020 TraceGains, Inc. All rights reserved.

The information presented by TraceGains is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2020.