||About Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha)
Ashwagandha Withania somnifera possess good immunomodulatory
anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, antioxidant, anticancer properties and
many pharmacologically and medicinally important chemicals, they protect
the cells from oxidative damage and diseases.
somnifera also known as ashwagandha is a popular Indian medicinal plant.
It has been an important herb in the ayurvedic and indigenous medical
system for over 3000 years. Numerous studies indicated that ashwagandha
possesses antioxidant, antitumor, antistress, anti-inflammatory,
immunomodulatory, hematopoetic, anti-ageing, anxiolytic, antdepressive
rejuvenating properties and also influences various neurotransmitter
receptors in the central nervous system.
Studies revealed that the anti-inflammatory and
immunomodulatory properties of Withania somnifera (WS) root extracts are
likely to contribute to the chemo preventive action.
The roots of the plant are categorised as rasayanas,
which are reputed to promote health and longevity by augmenting defence
against disease, arresting the ageing process, revitalising the body in
debilitated conditions, increasing the capability of the individual to
resist adverse environmental factors and creating a sense of mental
It is in use for a very long time for all groups and
both sexes and even during pregnancy without any side effects.
The plant is chemically very complex and more than 80 compounds are
known from it. The biologically active chemical constituents are
alkaloids (ashwagandhine, cuscohygrine, anahygrine, tropineetc),
steroidal compounds, including ergostane type steroidallactones,
withaferin A, withanolides Ay,withasomniferin-A, withasomidienone,
withasomniferolsA-C, withsomniferin A, withasomnidienone,
withasomniferols A-C, withanone etc.
The constituents of Withania roots are the steroidal
alkaloids and steroidal lactones. They belong to a class of constituents
called the withanolides with the main active chemical constituent
Withaferin A, a phytosteroid.
Medicinal Uses :
- In Ayurveda, Ashwagandha is considered as a
rasayana herb, which works on a nonspecific basis to increase health
and longevity. W. somnifera has been in use for over 2500 years to
treat all kind of diseases and human ailments.
- This herb works on a nonspecific basis to
normalize physiological function, working on the HPA axis and the
- It is considered as sedative, but it has been
also used for sexual vitality and as an adaptogen.
- This plant is claimed to have potent aphrodisiac
rejuvenative and life prolonging properties.
- It has general animating and regenerative
qualities and is used among others for the treatment of nervous
exhaustion, memory related conditions, insomnia, tiredness potency
issues, skin problems and coughing.
- It improves learning ability and memory capacity.
The traditional use of ‘Ashwagandha’ was to increase energy,
youthful vigour, endurance, strength, health, nurture the time
elements of the body, increase vital fluids, muscle fat, blood,
lymph, semen and cell production.
- It also helps to counteract chronic fatigue,
weakness, dehydration, bone weakness, loose teeth, thirst,
impotency, premature aging emaciation, debility, convalescence and
- It helps to invigorate the body by rejuvenating
the reproductive organs, just as a tree is invigorated by feeding
- Traditionally used for the Ayurvedic system as
aphrodisiacs, diuretics and for treating memory loss.
Applications are reported for promoting reproductive fertility.
- Two new Glycowithanolides, Sitoindoside IX (1)
and Sitoindoside X (2) isolated from Withania somnifera were
evaluated for their immunomodulatory and CNS effects (anti-stress,
memory and learning).
- It is said to have free radical scavenger
activity (antioxidant activity).
- Root of Withania somnifera used for the treatment
of asthma, bronchitis, edema, leucoderma, anorexia, consumption,
asthenia, anemia, exhaustion, aging, insomnia, ADD/ADHD,
neurasthenia, infertility, impotence, repeated miscarriage,
paralysis, memory loss, multiple sclerosis, immune- dysfunction,
carcinoma, rheumatism, arthritis, lumbago.
Other Biological Properties :
- Leaves have been used internally for fever and
haemorrhoids; externally for wounds, haemorrhoids, tumours,
tuberculosis glands, anthrax pustules, syphilitic sores, erysipelas,
and in ophthalmitis.
- Fruits are used externally in ringworm.
- A methanolic & 80% ethanolic extract of Withania
somnifera displayed significant anti-inflammatory activity on
carrageenan- induced paw edema.
- The administration of Ashwagandha Rasayana
significantly reduced the lung tumor nodule formation and also
reduced leucopenia induced by cyclophosphamide treated experimental
animals, indicating its usefulness in cancer therapy.
- Withania increase the WBC count, reduce
- They also increased bone marrow cellularity &normalised
the ratio of hormachromatic erythrocytes & polychromatic
- The root extract of Ashwagandha prevented the
rise of experimentally induced LPO in rabbits & mice.
- Withaferin A and Sitoindosider VIII-X exhibits
fairly potent anti- arthritic, anti- inflammatory, antioxidant &
immuno modulant activities, they also increase in the levels of SOD,
CAT, GPX in brain & the steroidal lactone W.A.
- Withaferin A, also showed significant antitumor &
radiosensitizing effects in experimental tumors without any toxicity
& inhibiting tumor growth increasing survival in swiss albino mice
inoculated with Ehrlich ascites (ESC) carcinoma.