Saturday, May 3, 2014

Magic of Medicinal Herbs - Ashwagandha



The botanical name of this plant is Withania somnifera. This plant grows wild in several parts of India including around my home here. The photo is one of a branch of this plant I snapped a few minutes ago. This  is one of the most important herbal medicinal plant in India for more than 3000 years. Modern medical studies have confirmed its benefits. Multiple studies have shown positive effects in reducing physiological and psychological stress as well as restoring and increasing energy levels. More than one study had findings showing a significant improvement in both cardiovascular and respiratory endurance. According to Kieran Cooley et al, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2729375/

Clinical trials and animal research support the use of Withania somnifera for anxiety, inflammation, Parkinson's disease, cognitive and neurological disorders and as a useful adjunct for patients undergoing radiation and chemotherapy. Withania somnifera is also used therapeutically as an adaptogen for patients with nervous exhaustion, insomnia, debility due to stress, and as an immune stimulant in patients with low white blood cell counts.

The plant's long, brown, tuberous roots are used for medicinal purposes although other parts of the plant have benefits too. The roots have a strong horsy smell and a strong woody taste. Since this herb is plentiful around my home, I have collected the roots and tried to drink decoctions of it but the taste was not pleasant. More recently I have found powdered form of the dry roots in stores and find that a level tea spoon of that mixed in half or full glass of drinking water and a tea spoon of sugar has a pleasant taste and is wonderful before or after dinner in the evening. Once you get used to the taste you would find it is a lovely drink with some ice cubes and perhaps a sprig of mint to garnish or a dash of natural Kewra or rose essence for more flavor. It does not dissolve in the water but just makes a suspension. It is a strong woody flavor but one begins to like it after a few days. It gives a wonderful deep sleep and one wakes up delighted and refreshed aside from its other benefits. Truly Mother Nature is wonderful. I am unsure of the best dosage but have just played it by ear and one level tea spoon a day in water work fines for me.

Those with a tendency for constipation must watch if this method of consuming the herb does not aggravate that and it seems that excess can have some undesirable hypnotic effect therefore do go easy if you try it out after consulting a certified Ayurvedic doctor familiar with it. I did not consult because I love to take risks :)  Persons with constipation can try mixing in a tea spoon of another herbal powder called Triphala in the drink. It is also a natural health powder. Both of these are common herbal medicines manufactured by several reputed industries and should be widely available in Ayurveda stores across the world.

UPDATE October 14, 2014:  Some days ago a honeycomb at home yielded honey and I have begun to add a tea spoon of honey along with a tea spoon of dried Ashwagandha powder to half a glass of water. After stirring it become a wonderful sweet drink with an almond sort of flavor. The Ashwagandha powder should be added to water not water to powder or  it will not mix very well but just clump up at the bottom of the glass similar to corn flour. It is wonderful before bedtime.

3 comments:

jacob smith said...

The Ashwagandha plant is a hardy small woody shrub that grows to about 150 centimeters.The roots of Ashwagandha looks like a big carrot with one long thick structure or it can also look like a subsystem of intertwined roots. The word Aswhagandha in Sanskrit means 'smell of a horse' because the root smells like one.we can use ashwagandha by different way they are so many categories just like Vegetarian Medicine Ashwagandha and Ashwagandha medicine and Ashwagandha Extract herbal etc

Ashok said...

Thanks for the additional information Jacob.

Harper smith said...

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