Withania somnifera

by Rachit Sethi Writer

Withania somnifera, also commonly known as ashwagandha in India, is used in various ayurvedic medicines and supplements. In Sanskrit, the word "ashwa-gandha" stands for "horse-smell" indicating that the root of the plant imparts a smell like horse sweat also indicating that it gives strength or immune system as strong as that of a horse. Where as “somnifera” stands for “sleep-inducive” indicating that it helps to treats conditions like insomnia and other sleep disorders. The plant’s flower, leaves & roots are used to prevent as well as treat various illnesses such as arthritic disease, asthma, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, hypertension and neurodegenerative disorders. In modern times various pharmaceutical products are prepared using Withania somnifera as one of the ingredients, if not the main ingredient. The plant extract has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory properties, etc.

Type of plant extracts from ashwagandha

Extracts from various parts of Withania somnifera are used to create many formulations with each having its particular purpose. The roots are loaded with alkaloids, amino acids and essential volatile oils 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.

There are number of biologically active Phytoconstituents present in the root of Withania somnifera such as alkaloids, benzoic acid, benzyl alcohol, cinnamic acid, sitoindosides, withanolides (withanolide A, withanolide B, withanolide D, withferine, etc.), withanamides, etc. Withanolides are reported with many important beneficial physiological actions, i.e., antiinflammatory, antioxidant, hepatoprotective, hypoglycemic, immunomodulating, insomnia, memory loss and neuroprotective.

Root extract

The roots alone of Withania somnifera are used to prepare over 200 formulations. The roots are the most crucial part of the plant and are used to prepare various formulations. The root has potent anti-diabetic, anti-depressant, anti-helminthic, antioxidant, aphrodisiac, diuretic properties and are hence used for treating diabetes, constipation, infertility, skin disorders, etc. It is used to prepare various formulations as it is regarded as:

Tonic: Tonic is a medicinal substance which gives a feeling of vigour or well-being.

Aphrodisiac: It is a thing that increases sexual desire, sexual pleasure, or sexual behavior among both males and females

Narcotic: Narcotics are used to treat pain among individuals

Diuretic: They help to induce the secretion of sodium into urine and is beneficial in some diseases

Anthelmintic: They are useful for the treatment of parasites without harming the host in the process, the parasite is usually expelled ones it is killed or stunned

Astringent: It can act as a skin cleanser and also tight pores

Thermogenic: The root extract of Ashwagandha can increase the production of heat by increasing the metabolic activity

Stimulant: Stimulants hightens ones senses & increases physiological activity of the body

Leave Extract

The leaves of ashwagandha are bitter in taste & are used for treating viral infections, cough and cold symptoms, fever and chronic pain due to its analgesic and antioxidant properties.

Flower Extract

The flowers are used for improving fertility and treating kidney problems such as kidney stones as they have potent diuretic and aphrodisiac properties.


The seeds of Withania somnifera are anthelmintic and combined with astringent and rock salt remove white spots from the cornea. They also have anthelmintic properties and are used for preventing and treating infectious diseases and parasitic invasions.

How fast does Withania somnifera starts showing its action?

While action of each medicine varies from person to person and the same is true for Withania somnifera, generally it takes about 14-21 days for Withania somnifera to start showing its effects. The quality of the extracts also makes a huge difference on the efficacy of Ashwagandha.

Are there any side effects?

There have not been enough long-term studies to fully examine the possible side effects but taking large amounts of ashwagandha can lead to digestive upset, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. This may be due to irritation of the intestinal mucosa. People can usually tolerate ashwagandha in small-to-medium doses. Pregnant women and people with preexisting health conditions should talk to their doctor before using ashwagandha.

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About Rachit Sethi Junior   Writer

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Joined APSense since, November 1st, 2020, From New Delhi, India.

Created on Nov 2nd 2020 11:52. Viewed 37 times.


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