Medicinal plants ashwagandha benefits, uses and pictures
Ashwagandha is an important ancient ayurvedic plant and a Kharif crop. The name Ashwagandha is composed of two Sanskrit words: Ashwa means ‘horse,’ Gandha means ‘smell’ because of the strong aroma of the root described as Horse-like. Areas receiving 600-750mm rainfall are best for the cultivation. It grows as a heavy shrub with its height reaching 170cm. It bears yellow color flowers and red color fruits. Unlike tomato though come from the same family, the fruits are of berry-like in size and shape. The cultivated plants are different from wild plants morphologically. The roots, leaves and berries of the plant are most useful. The harvesting starts in January and goes on till March.
The root must be trimmed, cleaned and graded before sent for medicinal use.
Ashwagandha. In English, it is called as Poison gooseberry / Indian ginseng.
Botanical name and family
Botanical name- Withania somnifera
The species somnifera means sleep- inducing.
Geological area where Ashwagandha grows
The climates of India, Pakistan, Srilanka and Bangladesh are good for Ashwagandha cultivation. In India, it grows well in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana. The development of root increases in 2-3 winter rains. The temperature range of 20-38 degree can be tolerant for the growth of the plant.
Medicinal use of Ashwagandha
- Leaves: The leaves of Ashwagandha can be used as a cure for inflammation, to reduce the formation of pus in boils, ulcers, swellings and skin lesions. The leaves are curative in nature because of the presence of Withaferin A. Leaves are also given in fever. The ointment prepared from boiled leaves can be used to cure bedsores.
- Roots: Extract from the roots can be used in the treatment of dropsy, disorders of female, hiccup, dropsy, rheumatism, and cough. It is used in weaknesses to gain strength. Ashwagandha Root
- It is used as a sedative for the treatment of insanity and drugs prepared from it can be used for the nervous disorder.
- People suffering from joint pain and paralysis can use the drug prepared from Ashwagandha.
- It can be used for the treatment of high blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
- Ashwagandha also can be used for increase of hemoglobin. It also reduces chronic stress and causes relaxation.
- It has been used as antioxidant, and it slows down the growth of lungs, breasts, and colon cancer cells.
- It also has an anti-anxiety effect.
- Ashwagandha capsules can also be used to recover memory losses.
- As a tonic, it increases sexual potential.
- It also thickens and increases the nutritive value of milk in nursing mothers.
- The powder mixed with oil reduces and cures skin infection.
- It protects the liver and reduces constipation and cures hypothyroidism.
- Seeds and fruits: The seeds and fruits are diuretic in nature and promote passing of urine. The seeds are also used as rennet in cheese making.
It is to be noted that excess use of the drug causes abortion, vomiting or diarrhea, so one need to be careful regarding its dosage and should be taken only under the guidance of an expert.
Because of its medicinal value, Ashwagandha is used in India and Africa as traditional medicine. It has been proved valuable by Ayurveda and Unani.