August 25, 2013

#Ashwagandha,अश्वगंधा (Withania somnifera)

Botanical Classification :

Botnical name :Withania somnifera
Family:   Solanaceae
Genus:   Withania
Species: W. somnifera

Common Name: Winter cherry, Indian Ginseng
                                Sanskrit -     Ashwagandha
                                           Hindi -          Asgandh  
Parts Used: Leaves,Roots,Seeds
Introduction :
Ashwagandha is a popular plant in Ayurveda which has been in use for many centuries now. It has gained a very important place in Ayurveda due to its medicinal properties. The name of the plant comes from Sanskrit words Ashwa and Gandha which literally mean a horse’s odour. The most important part of ashwagandha is the root. The root of the plant contains innumerable properties ranging from strengthening the immune system, increasing libido, lowering arthritis and many more.




 PLant:
 The Ashwagandha plant itself is a hardy small woody shrub with small flowers and distinctive red seeds. The shrub can grow from 150 to 200 cm tall. The plant can thrive in
moderate drought conditions and is often found where other plants cannot survive. Ashwagandha naturally occurs in all areas of South Asia up to a moderate altitude. It is a member of the same family of plants that includes the common tomato, the Solanacaeae family.

Fruit:
 The plant displays small flowers and small berry like fruit. The flowers have a central yellow section and light green petals that look like mini leaves. The Ashwagandha shrub has a dominant central stem supporting radially extending branches.




 The central stem and branches are covered with small wool like hairs.It is actually the plant root and seeds that are used in ayurvedic medicine. 








Roots:
The roots of Ashwagandha can occur as one long thick structure, similar in shape to an extra large carrot, or it can occur as a subsystem of various inter-twined roots.


Leaves:
The leaves of the plant are not compound leaves (ie. they are simple leaves) and are generally about 8 to 12 cm in length.

Seeds:
Ashwagandha seeds are small and have a berry like red appearance; they are generally less than 1 cm in diameter.



Flower:
The  Ashwagandha flowers are small and usually a greenish yellow color and plant flowers all year round 



The word Aswhagandha in Sanskrit literally translates to 'smell of a horse'; probably owing to the fact that the ground root has a smell that is reminiscent of a horse.

 Uses :
Ashwagandha benefits all parts of the body and can be used as a tonic or in oral form. Several studies have shown that Ashwagandha is useful in addressing the following health problems:
  •  Osteoarthritis:  A study  in 2008 , scientists tested ashwagandha's effects on human cartilage and found that the herb may help protect against inflammation and cartilage damage associated with osteoarthritis.
  •  Anxiety: In an animal-based study published in 2000, researchers found that ashwagandha had an anti-anxiety effect similar to that of lorazepam (a medication used to treat anxiety disorders). The herb also appeared to ease depression.
  •  Type 2 Diabetes:  Ashwagandha may help normalize high blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity, according to preliminary, animal-based research published in 2008. 
  •  Cancer:: : In a 2003 study, tests on human tumor cell lines revealed that ashwagandha may slow the growth of lung, breast, and colon cancer cells.Published in 2007, another study on human cells shows that ashwagandha may inhibit tumor growth without harming normal cells.
  • Anti-Oxident: Ashwagandha  used as an anti-oxidant, as studies have shown that it can eliminate free radicals from your immune system. Free radicals are the agents that cause the breakdown of your body’s tissue, alternatively known as aging.
  • Provide energy: Studies show that supplementing with ashwagandha can provide the energy needed to get through long workouts while also allowing for maximum recovery and cell re-growth. 
  • General tonic: Ashwagandha is a tonic, which increases sperm count and sexual potency. In the rural areas  vegetable made out of this plant is given to tuberculosis patients. It also increases the iron content in the blood.



This herb is considered an adaptogen which is a nontoxic herb that works on a nonspecific basis to normalize physiological function, working on the HPA axis and the neuroendocrine system. Ashwagandha is effective for insomnia but does not act as a sedative.its rejuvenative and nervine properties produce energy which in turn help the body to settle and sleep. Thus it helps the body to address a stress related condition rather than masking it with sedatives. A herb that rejuvenates the nervous system, erases insomnia and eases stress. Ashwagandha has also been shown to lower blood pressure and is highly effective in stopping the formation of stress induced ulcers. In arthritis, which involves joints that are painful, dry, swollen and inflamed, Ashwagandha would be the herb of choice. One of the special properties of Ashwagandha is that it will enhance ojas. Ojas is the most subtle, refined level of the physical body and is the end result of healthy food which is properly digested. It is responsible for a healthy immune system, physical strength, lustrous complexion, clarity of mind and sense of Well being. It allows consciousness to flow within the body. With decreased ojas, we are less in touch with ourselves and more prone to diseases and having a feeling of disharmony. 'Ojakshaya' (decreased ojas) is a condition similar to AIDS/HIV .Research on Ashwagandha has concluded that extracts of the plant has a direct spermatogenic influence on the seminiferous tubules of immature rats presumably by exerting a testosterone-like effect. Ashwagandha increases hemoglobin (red blood count) and hair melanin.It stabilizes blood sugar and lowers cholesterol.




17 comments:

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