ASHWAGANDHA: Getting to Know Herbs

Scientific Name: Withania somnifera

Other Names: Winter cherry, Indian ginseng

Rasa (taste): bitter, astringent, sweet

Dosha (effect): VK-



Ashwagandha's Latin name somnifera means "sleep-inducing," alluding to its sedative and relaxing effect. The word ashwagandha itself means "the smell of a horse," referring to the smell of the root. It is interestingly both a sedative and tonic, providing energy and calmness to the taker. The plant contains withanolides which are very similar to ginsenosides found in ginseng. This, along with its long-standing association with Ayurvedic medicine originating in India around 5,000 years ago, is why the plant has been called Indian Ginseng. The root of the plant is most commonly used in herbalism and supplementation.


Ashwagandha is, first and foremost, an adaptogen and nervine. This is due to its abilities to both strengthen and calm the nervous system and decrease psycho-physiological stress responses. It also is able to function as both an immunosuppressive and immunotonic, making it a true adaptogen. It has an affinity for the body's general musculature and organ-muscles by strengthening these systems. It has been used for improving white blood cell count as well as improving low libido and sperm production. It also possesses possible usefulness in dysmenorrhea and thyroid dysregulation. In Ayurveda, Ashwagandha is used for vata related ailments and is associated with decreasing aggravated vata dosha.


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Always use caution and consult a doctor before taking any supplements, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to conceive, or if you are taking prescription medications for blood sugar dysregulation or struggle with blood sugar dysregulation.

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