Ashwagandha, also known as Indian ginseng, is a plant from the solanace [nightshade] family. It is known for promoting vigour and vitality. That is not all – it also heals the mind and body. An antioxidant, adaptogenic [having cabability to increase body’s resistance to stress], aphrodisiac, anti-inflammatory, sedative, mood elevator… the list of benefits goes –on. Ashwagandha has been advocated as a general energy-promoting, disease-preventing tonic due to its effect on the immune system. Globally, people of all ages and sex have been advised this root since times immemorial.
More about the plant
A branched, evergreen erect shrub grows up to a height of 0.3-1.5 m. Leaves are egg shaped. Flowers are hermaphrodite [having both male and female reproducing parts] and are greenish or lurid yellow in colour, about five together in an umbellate cyme. Its fruit [berries] are orange-red in colour. Its roots are whitish-brown in colour. This is a small woody shrub that flowers all the year round.
The estimated production of Ashwagandha in India is more than 1500 tonnes and the annual requirement is about 7000 tones. This makes an increase in its cultivation and production a crucial issue. It grows in India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan.
Did you know?
- Studies on this herb have proved that aging can be slowed; haemoglobin and calcium levels can be increased and the sexual performance be enhanced. [The European Journal of Herbal Medicine. 1998, Vol. 4, Issue 2:17-22]
- A double-blind study in India, on children aged 8-12, studied the effects of 2g of this root daily, for sixty days. Body weight, mean red blood cells, haemoglobin and grip strength were significantly improved.
The healing properties of Ashwagandha
Listed below are a few healing properties of Ashwagandha
Clinical and experimental studies have observed that Ashwagandha acts as an anti-stress and adaptogenic herb. It can be taken with milk, either alone, or with liquorice [legume related to beas and peas] to reduce stress.
The root is narcotic, induces deep sleep and hence beneficial in treating insomnia. The powder of Ashwagandha root when taken with bramhi or jatamamsi, gives excellent results for insomnia and is non-addictive.
The root of this herb is used for treating digestive disorders like dyspepsia and loss of appetite. It corrects the disorder and restores normalcy in the system. It can be taken with ginger or pepper.
Cold and cough
Ashwagandha is beneficial in the treatment of chest diseases such as cold and cough. The root can be taken either in the form of powder or decoction. Berries and seeds can also be taken for chest complaints, with beneficial result.
A combination of root powder of Ashwagandha, fruit powder of amalaki and cardamom with sugar or honey taken daily ensures visual acuity. It can be taken to preserve or promote eyesight.
The root of this herb is a highly acclaimed tonic for the brain and nervous system. It also improves immune functions and acts as an anabolic [the synthesis of complex substances from simpler ones] during convalescence period [recovery after an illness].
Ashwagandha with sugar and ghee enhances libido, although safer and better results can be achieved by consulting an expert. The drug is beneficial for the treatment of spermatorrhoea or involuntary ejaculations. 2-4g of powdered root can be taken daily with sugar, honey, long pepper and ghee, for treatment of these conditions.
This herb relieves abnormal vaginal discharges, sterility in ladies and helps enhance quantity and quality of milk secretion. A decoction of Ashwagandha roots, Vidharik and Mulethi with milk, increases breast milk secretion. It can be taken in combination of herbs like shatavari, madhuyasti or pipalli.
Consuming equal portions of this herb powder and sugar [approx 3-5g] with milk everyday is believed to cure impotency.
Piles: Mix the skin of Ashwagandha, nirgundi, kateri fruits and paipal with ghee. Burn it and give fumigation in the rectum area to cure piles.
Make a mixture of finely powdered Ashwagandha and sugar [equal quantities of both] with honey. Consuming about 4g of this regularly works as a natural blood purifier.
Other health complications
Its root finds its use in treating general debility. Joint and muscular pains are relieved when the root powder is taken regularly with honey and clove. In combination with other herbs, it helps in cardiovascular conditions, urinary tract problems, and senile degenerative conditions. Helps in thyroid dysfunction and can be taken along with other medications. For children, who are underweight and suffer from compromised states of immunity, this herb is a great remedy.
Though there are no side-effects of Ashwagandha; some caution is to be observed regarding this multi-beneficial herb –
- Since it generates a lot of heat in the body, Ashwagandha should always be used in combination with other herbs to balance out the possible heating effects.
- Ashwagandha contains withanolides and other compounds that are active in the central nervous system. These compounds depress the nervous system and relax the muscles, causing a sedative effect.
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