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Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera, Physalis somnifera)

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • 5Beta,6alpha,14alpha,17beta,20beta-pentahydroxy-1-oxo-20S,22R-witha-2,24-dienolide, 6alpha,7alpha-epoxy-5alpha,14alpha,17alpha,23beta-tetrahydroxy-1-oxo-22R-witha-2,24-dienolide, ajagandha, amangura, amukkirag, asan, asgand, asgandh, asgandha, ashagandha, ashvagandha, ashwagada, ashwaganda, ashwagandholine, asoda, asundha, asvagandha, aswagandha, avarada, Ayurvedic ginseng, clustered wintercherry, ghoda asoda, Indian ginseng, kanaje hindi, kuthmithi, Physalis somnifera, samm al ferakh (Arabic), Solanaceae (family), winter cherry, withaferin A, withania, Withania coagulans, Withania somnifera, Withania somnifera Dunal, Withania somniferum, Withania somnifera glycowithanolides, Withania somnifera Kaul, Withania somnifera L., withanolide A (WL-A), withanone, withanosides.
  • Combination products: EuMil (polyherbal formulation containing standardized Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal, Ocimum sanctum L., Asparagus racemosus Willd. and Emblica officinalis Gaertn. extracts), Siotone (ST) (herbal formulation containing Withania somnifera, Ocimum sanctum, Asparagus racemosus, Tribulus terrestris, and shilajit, all which are classified in Ayurveda as rasayanas), Transina (TR) (Ayurvedic herbal formulation containing of Withania somnifera, Tinospora cordifolia, Eclipta alba, Ocimum sanctum, Picrorrhiza kurroa, and shilajitturangi-ghanda).

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera, synonym Physalis somnifera) is a small evergreen shrub that grows to about four or five feet tall. It is found in dry areas of India and the Middle East, as well as parts of Africa (1). The word ashwagandha means "odor of the horse" due to its distinctive smell (1). Ashwagandha has been used in Ayurvedic medicine in India for hundreds of years (2). It has been used as an "adaptogenic" herb (rasayana), meaning that it is used with the intention to help the body resist physiological and psychological stress. It is purported to tone and normalize (revitalize) bodily functions. The berries may be used to coagulate milk in making cheese.
  • The potentially active constituents of ashwagandha include alkaloids and steroidal lactones that together are called withanolides (particularly withaferin A), and preparations are often standardized to their percentage contents of withanolides. Although it is used for a wide variety of medical conditions, there is currently insufficient scientific evidence to conclude the efficacy of ashwagandha for the prevention or treatment of any specific condition.

Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.