Botanical NameWithania somnifera (L.) Dunal.
SynonymsPhysalis somnifera L., Withania kansuensis Kuang & A. M. Lu., Withania microphysalis Suess.
Regional NameEnglish :-Indian ginseng, Winter Cherry, Hindi : Asgandh, Sanskrit : Hayagandha, Vajigandha, Urdu : Asgand, Punjabi : Asgandh, Assamese : Ashvagandha, Bengali : Ashvagandha, Gujrati : Asgandha, Kannada : Angarberu, Hiremaddina-gida, Kashmiri : Asagandh, Malayalam : Amukkuram, Marathi : Asagandha, Askagandha, Oriya : Aswagandha, Tamil : Amukkaramkizangu, Telugu : Pennerugadda.
DescriptionAshwagandha is globally distributed from Africa, Mediterranean, India to Sri Lanka. Within India, it is distributed in the sub-Himalayan tracts, ascending upto an altitude of 1000 m. It is a perennial shrub, found in waste land, widely cultivated in certain areas of Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and throughout the drier parts of India. Ashwagandha is a short, tender perennial shrub growing 35–75 cm (14–30 in) tall. Tomentose branches extend radially from a central stem. Leaves are dull green, elliptic, usually up to 10–12 cm long. Roots are straight, unbranched, thickness varying with age. Roots bear fibre-like secondary roots, outer surface buff to grey-yellow colour, cylindrical with longitudinal wrinkles, fracture, short and uneven, characteristic odour and taste are bitter and acrid. The fresh roots smell similar to urine of horse (ashwagandha). The flowers are small, green and bell-shaped. The ripe fruit is orange-red.
PhytoconstituentsThe main constituents of Ashwagandha are alkaloids and steroidal lactones. Alkaloids contains withanine, withananine, pseudo-withanine, somniferine, somnine, somniferinine, tropane, pseudo tropane, choline, cuscohygrine, isopelletierine, anaferine , anahydrine, Sitoindoside VII and sitoindoside VIII. The steroidal lactones contains Withanolides (withaferin).
Ayurvedic PropertiesRasa : Tikta, Kasaya, Guna : Laghu, Vipaka : Madhura, Virya : Usna, Karma : Balya, Rasayana, Vatakaphapaha, Vajikarana.
Ayurvedic ApplicationsDaurbalya, Kasaya, Klaibya, Sotha, Vataroga.
Medicinal UsesAshwagandha is used for excessive emaciation, rheumatic ailments, arthritis, gout, cardiac diseases, hypertension, anxiety, trouble sleeping (insomnia), tumors, ulcers, tuberculosis, bronchitis, bronchial asthma, backache, fibromyalgia, hiccups, and chronic liver disease, suppression of urine, and for conception in sterility. It promotes development of body and is useful in emaciated children. Ashwagandha is applied to the skin for treating wounds due to accident and skin diseases, white patchiness (leukoderma) and one-sided paralysis (hemiplegia). It is also used for improving thinking ability, pain and swelling (inflammation) and also used for fertility problems in men and women and also to increase sexual desire. Ashwagandha is also used as an “adaptogen” to help the body cope with daily stress, preventing the effects of aging as a general tonic.