Ashwagandha, which belongs to the pepper family, is found in India and Africa, it is sometimes called “Indian Ginseng”. The roots of ashwagandha are used medicinally. The health applications for ashwagandha in traditional Indian and Ayurvedic medicine are extensive and include, tumours, inflammation, arthritis and infectious diseases. The shoots and seeds are also used as food and to thicken milk in India. Traditional uses of ashwagandha among tribal peoples in Africa include fevers and inflammatory conditions.
What it does
Ashwagandha contains compounds called withanolides, which are similar to the active constituents in ginseng. It has immune boosting, anti-inflammatory and adaptogenic actions. Withanolides have been shown to influence cardiac muscle contractility and to possess blood pressure lowering properties.
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Evidence suggests that ashwagandha may be able to both boost a weakened immune system and suppress an overactive one. The latter action would theoretically offer great potential in auto-immune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, etc. Numerous studies show ashwagandha to be superior to even panax ginseng as an anti-stress adaptogen.
Generally, there are no side effects or contra-indications from using ashwagandha.
This herb has sedative actions and should be avoided if you are already taking anti-psychotic medication, tranquillisers or anti-convulsants.
Do not use when pregnant or breast feeding.
Ashwagandha should not be used by children under 12 except under supervision of a qualified herbalist.
At the time of writing there were no well known negative drug interactions with Ashwaganha.