Ashwagandha - also known as Indian Winter Cherry has the Botanical name Withania Somnifera -It is a shrub belonging to Solanace family. It is grown in the western India, Gujarat, MP, Punjab and in Himalayas.
Ashwagandha gets its name because its roots have the odor of horse. (Ashwa = horse , gandha = odor). It is called by another name Varaha karni because its leaves resemble pig’s ear.
Ashwagandha has light (laghu) and sticky (snigdha) properties, bitter and sweet taste. On digestion the sweet taste dominates. The main part used is root of this herb.
Medicinal properties of Ashwagandha
The various medicinal properties of ashwagandha is attributed to compounds known as withanolides which are present in it.
Ashwagandha is used as an adaptogen (as it enhances endurance), rejuvenating tonic and sedative. Hence many herbalists refer this herb as Indian ginseng.
Effects on mind: As it balances vata and kapha, it improves memory, counteracts the effects of stress and calms mind. It has an ability to relieve stress. It acts as sedative. Stressed patients with insomnia are benefited by this herb.
This herb can be used in Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss and insomnia.
Effects on general health : It acts as balya and strengthens the body. Generally, ashwagandha stimulates the immune system and strengthens it. It increases body energy level.
Convalescent patients’ gain more energy and can spring back to normal routine quicker when this herb’s preparations are used after illness. The immediate relapse of disease is prevented on use of Ashwagandha. This supports HIV patients by strengthening their immune system.
Anti-inflammatory properties: It has anti-inflammatory properties and has been successfully used in adjuvant therapy for arthritis. It reduces inflammation of joints and eases movements.
Effects on digestive system: Ashwagandha increases appetite . It normalizes digestion and bowel movements.
Effects on reproductive system: This magic herb increases shukra dhatu, sperm count and sperm motility. It increases libido and known as best Vajikara dravya (aphrodisiac)
It is also used as uterine tonic and to enhance female libido.
Ashwagandha retards ageing process when used as rasayana (rejuvenating preparation).
It reduces hypertension and also acts as diuretic.
Effects on pregnant woman: Ashwagandha is very effective in conditions like habitual abortion, threatened abortion. It stabilizes pregnancy and balances harmones which stabilize pregnancy.
Usefull preparations of Ashwagandha:
1. A paste of ashwagandha leaves when applied on a local inflammation acts as anti inflammatory.
2. The herbal massage oil which includes this herb is useful in many conditions like paralysis, epilepsy, sleeplessness etc.
3. The preparation of Ashwagandha which is processed with ghee, sugar and honey is a very good aphrodisiac and increases semen quantity, sperm count and motility. It is effectively used in Erectile dysfunction, low libido and premature ejaculation.
4 Ashwagandha roots when used regularly helps to improve the conditions like emaciation of children, senile debility, rheumatism, in all cases of general debility, nervous exhaustion, brain-fag, low of memory, loss of muscular energy and spermatorrhoea. It increases body energy and vigor . It helps to rebuild the body system which is worn out due to chronic diseases like syphilis, rheumatism etc. It also replenishes the lowered energy of body due to over-work, mental exertion thus preventing early ageing.
5 Ashwagandha when used regularly , is very useful in emaciated children. It increases body weight and body energy.
6 Regular use of ashwagandha helps to reduce blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
7 Fine powder of ashwagandha well mixed with oil is very use full in many skin conditions.
8 Ashwagandha also acts as galactogogue and thickens the milk when given to nursing mothers.