Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha, clad by the vernacular names’ Indian ginseng, Indian winter cherry or poison gooseberry is a powerful remedy for bolstering immunity. This herb is a potent adaptogen i.e. it is a non-toxic herb that helps to normalize all bodily functions, by working on the HPA axis and the neuroendocrine system.

Ashwagandha is widely mentioned in various traditional textbooks of Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Chinese medicine owing to its wide range of health benefits. Ancient ayurvedic scriptures named this plant ashwagandha which means ‘odour of the horse’ as its roots smell like horse’s urine. It is also known as Ashvakandika, Asgandh, Gandhapatri, and Palashaparni. The synonyms are related to a horse since the herb is a potent aphrodisiac and it is said to provide the stamina of a horse.

Ashwagandha goes by the botanical name Withania somnifera. The word ‘somnifera’ means ‘sleep-inducive’ which means that this drug is a potent sedative and helps to treats conditions like insomnia and other sleep disorders.

Being mostly native to India, and some parts of Mediterranean and Africa, the ashwagandha shrub is perennial in nature and grows to a height of 1.5 metres. The leaves are ovate, elliptic and dull greenish in colour. The plant bears small bell-shaped yellow flowers that slowly turns into an orangish-red fruit on ripening.

  Phytochemical Constituents:

  • Ashwagandha as a whole contains umpteen number of active ingredients which are used for improving various bodily functions. The roots are loaded with essential volatile oils, amino acids and alkaloids, whereas the fruits and leaves are rich in tannins and flavonoids which helps in getting rid of free radical damage and also reduces oxidative stress.

Improves Immunity:

  • The active ingredients in ashwagandha used in reduces weakness and fatigue and improves the vitality of the body. It also improves the function of the adrenal glands which in turn helps in reducing the stress levels.

Benefits Of The Various Parts Of The Plant:

Leaves:

  • The analgesic and antioxidant properties of the leaves of ashwagandha are used for treating a viral infection, cough and cold symptoms, fever and chronic pain.

Flowers and Seeds:

  • Ashwagandha flowers have potent diuretic and aphrodisiac properties which is used for improving fertility and treating kidney problems such as kidney stones.
  • The seeds, on the other hand, have anthelminthic properties and are used for preventing and treating infectious diseases and parasitic invasions.

Roots:

  • The roots are the most crucial part of the plant and are mostly used in various formulations. The root has potent aphrodisiac, diuretic, anti-helminthic, antioxidant, anti-depressant, anti-diabetic properties and are hence used for treating neural problems, diabetes, constipation, infertility, skin disorders, etc.
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