Ashwagandha is medically named as Withania somnifera. In Sanskrit, ‘ashwagandha’ means the horse’s smell and it probably is suggestive of the smell of the roots of the plant it is derived from. The plant is commercially cultivated in Madhya Pradesh (India) though it is also seen in Bangladesh and Pakistan.
The ashwagandha plant is in the form of a shrub around 170 cm in height. The plant has falavinoids in the roots and berries of the plant which qualify for medicinal properties. The roots are boiled in milk prior to drying to leach out the undesirable constituents.
In Ayurveda, ashwagandha is considered as a rasayana which is good for overall health and well being of the body. It not only affects the physic of the body but also is a good agent acting on the neurological system to generate a feeling of well being. It tackles various stress and also acts as an immune booster. The magic plant helps in maintaining the proper nourishment of bones, tissues and glands and is closely associated with the functioning of the adrenal and reproductive glands.
Apart from these functions ashwagandha oil which comprises of ashwagandha root, almond oil and rose water is used as a facial toner.
The most potent of the actions would be the carcinogen suppressive factor on account of the beta cell factor suppression. Arthritis, inflammation, asthma, candidiasis, colds, coughs, cystitis, hypertension, piles, hypothyroidism, psoriasis and wounds or cuts.
Ashwagandha as an adaptogen
Ashwagandha is known as an adaptogen as it maintains the normal body balance or homeostasis when the conditions are unfavorable or there is an element of stress. On account of the adaptogenic nature the endurance of the body towards the unfavorable circumstances is strengthened and the normal homeostasis is maintained. Hence, it also acts as an immune modulator. After all, it is stress in form of poor food , toxins or poor hygiene that leads to various disease states and the rasayana pravrithi of ashwagandha helps come out of these stressful states.
Ashwagandha contains alkaloids like withanine and choline along with lactones which are responsible for the therapeutic actions.