FROM The National Library of Medicine : An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda – PMC (

Ashwagandha, scientifically termed Withania somnifera and belonging to the Solanaceae family, goes by the monikers “Indian Winter cherry” or “Indian Ginseng.” Revered in Ayurveda, the traditional Indian system of medicine, for millennia, it serves as a potent Rasayana, offering a spectrum of health benefits.

Rasayana, as described, denotes herbal or metallic formulations that foster a youthful state of physical and mental well-being, amplifying joy. Administered as tonics to children and embraced by individuals across all age groups, including the elderly, Rasayana herbs like Ashwagandha hold paramount importance in Ayurvedic practice, particularly recognized as a “Sattvic Kapha Rasayana” herb. Notably, many Rasayana herbs exhibit adaptogenic qualities, serving as anti-stress agents.

Ashwagandha commonly manifests as churna—a finely sieved powder—easily blendable with water, ghee (clarified butter), or honey. Its benefits span various realms:

  • Enhancing brain and nervous system function while augmenting memory.
  • Supporting a healthy balance within the reproductive system, fostering vitality in sexual and reproductive aspects.
  • As a potent adaptogen, fortifying the body’s resilience against stressors.
  • Bolstering the body’s defense mechanisms by enhancing cell-mediated immunity.
  • Exhibiting robust antioxidant properties, shielding against cellular damage induced by free radicals.

In essence, Ashwagandha stands as a cornerstone in Ayurvedic tradition, celebrated for its multifaceted health-promoting attributes, making it a cherished remedy in the pursuit of holistic well-being.

Classical Uses of Ashwagandha

Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine dating back to 6000 BC according to Charak Samhita (1949), has long revered Ashwagandha as a Rasayana—a rejuvenating tonic—over the span of millennia. Renowned for its versatility, Ashwagandha’s root is esteemed for its manifold properties, including being tonic, aphrodisiac, narcotic, diuretic, anthelmintic, astringent, thermogenic, and stimulant. Its name, “Ashwagandha,” originates from its root’s horse-like odor (“ashwa”), believed to imbue the consumer with equine strength.

Traditionally, Ashwagandha finds application in various ailments such as emaciation in children (especially potent when consumed with milk), debility from old age, rheumatism, vata imbalances, leucoderma, constipation, insomnia, nervous breakdowns, and goiter. Moreover, its crushed root paste alleviates joint inflammation and is topically applied to carbuncles, ulcers, and painful swellings. Additionally, Ashwagandha, often in combination with other herbs, is administered for snake venom and scorpion stings, as well as addressing leucorrhoea, boils, pimples, colic, worms, and piles.

Nagori Ashwagandha is hailed as the supreme variety, with optimum benefits derived from fresh Ashwagandha powder. Its leaves possess bitterness and are recommended for fever and painful swellings, while its flowers offer astringent, depurative, diuretic, and aphrodisiac properties. The seeds, when combined with astringents and rock salt, serve as an anthelmintic, removing white spots from the cornea. Ashwagandharishta, a preparation derived from Ashwagandha, aids in hysteria, anxiety, memory loss, syncope, and acts as a stimulant while bolstering sperm count.

Scientific scrutiny corroborates Ashwagandha’s adaptogenic and anti-stress effects, likening it to Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian Ginseng) and Panax Ginseng (Chinese/Korean Ginseng), thus earning the epithet “Indian Ginseng.” Extensive animal studies have showcased its efficacy in enhancing stamina, thwarting stress-induced ailments like gastric ulcers and hepatotoxicity, and bolstering resistance to stressors. Clinical evidence underscores its potential in averting stress-related conditions like arteriosclerosis, premature aging, arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, and malignancy.

As with any herbal remedy, consulting a healthcare professional is prudent before commencing any regimen. The information provided here serves as a reference and does not substitute professional medical advice. Always seek guidance from a qualified herbal practitioner or medical practitioner before initiating any treatment or altering prescribed regimens.

Growing Ashwagandha From Seeds 

  1. Sow Ashwagandha seeds indoors in early spring to early summer. The seeds need a soil temperature of at least 21C to germinate, and the plants can take up to 180 days to reach maturity. Starting them in pots is the best way to ensure a long growing season.
  2. Fill a seed propagation tray or several plastic pots with organic, well-draining, nutrient-rich soil.
  3. Place the seeds in the pots, cover them with a thin layer of soil, and water them well.
  4. Keep the seed pots in a warm place but not in full sun.
  5. Ashwagandha seeds can take between 10 and 14 days to germinate. Make sure the soil is kept evenly moist until the seedlings emerge. You can gradually reduce watering when you start seeing seedlings but never let the soil dry out completely.
  6. You can transplant the young Ashwagandha plants into the garden soil when they are at least 10cms tall.

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