Adrenal & Immune Function Tonic:
Withania somnifera root has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for fatigue, general debility, nervous exhaustion, wasting in children, anaemia, loss of memory and muscular energy, convalescence, insomnia, impotence, spermatorrhoea, inflammatory conditions; as an aphrodisiac and a nutrient and tonic for pregnant women and the elderly. The plant has the Sanskrit common name of ashwagandha. 1-3
Research with experimental models have confirmed that Ashwagandha has some adaptogenic properties.6-10 Ashwagandha has been called Indian Ginseng, perhaps because of the similarity of the pharmacological properties to Korean Ginseng.
In Ayurveda, Ashwagandha is also regarded as a medhya rasayana – a promoter of learning and memory retrieval. The medhya rasayana herbs may provide a therapeutic effect by reducing stress, facilitating mental health and reducing anxiety and tension.
In two randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials, involving adults with a history of, or currently experiencing, chronic stress, concentrated Ashwagandha root extract produced a significant reduction in stress and decreased serum cortisol levels. Other aspects of psychological well-being improved, such as anxiety and mood. The standardised extract provided a dose of 30 mg/day of withanolides. On the basis of the withanolide content it has been estimated that the dosage of the extract was equivalent to about 6 g/day of dried root,17 although unpublished sources suggest a more concentrated extract, providing the equivalent of about 7.5 g/day of dried root.
In other clinical trials, Ashwagandha has:
- demonstrated tonic and growth-building activity in children aged 8-12 years (dosage: 2 g/day, in milk);
- improved haemoglobin, red blood cell count and posture in healthy male volunteers aged 50 to 59 years (dosage: 3 g/day);
- improved semen quality and serum cortisol levels in infertile men (dosage: 5 g/day in milk);
- improved sexual function in women (dosage: root extract containing 30 mg/day of withanolides; probably equivalent to 6 g/day);
- improved cognitive function in healthy volunteers (dosage: 0.5 g/day);
- reduced anxiety in patients with generalised anxiety disorder (dosage: about 6 g/day);
- been beneficial for patients with rheumatoid arthritis (acute stage; 4-9 g/day).
* Kapoor LD. CRC Handbook of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants. CRC Press, Boca Raton, 1990.
Dr. Conners graduated with his doctorate from Northwestern Health Sciences University in 1986 and has been studying alternative cancer care for over 20 years. He holds AMA Fellowships in Regenerative & Functional Medicine and Integrative Cancer Therapy.
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