Common Name   :Ashwagandha

Plant Parts Used  :Roots, Leaves and Seeds

Description         :

A branched erect shrub, 0.3-1.5 m. Leaves 5-10 x 2.5-5 cm and ovate. Flowers greenish or lurid yellow, about 5 together in an umbellate cyme.
Characteristics and Constituents

The roots contain choline, tropanol, pseudotropanol,cuscohygrene, 3-tigloyloxytropane, isopelletierine, anaferine and anahygrine. Withasomnine also has been isolated from the roots. The roots also have been reported to contain withaferin A and several other steroidal lactones including pharmacologically active with- anolides. These were also isolated as minor constituents of the leaves.

Actions and Uses :

Acetone soluble alkaloid fraction of the roots showed C.N.S. depressant effect in dogs, albino rats and mice. Convulsions produced by metrazol were exacerbated in rats but the animals were protected against supraorbital electroshock seizures. It produced hypnosis in mice. Potentiation of barbiturate, ethanol and urethane- induced hypnosis were observed in mice. Increase in 5 HT and depletion of calcium was also observed. Alcoholic extract potentiated thiopental-induced sleep in albino mice. It was not effective in antagonizing rnetrazol and strychnine induced convulsions and mortality7. The functional activity of normal human T lymphocytcs as assessed by local xenogenic graft via host reaction was also affected by withanolide and withaferine. Withaferine affects both T and B lymphoeytes. Adaptogenic antistress action of pi ant extract from defatted seeds was shown by the increase in duration of sleeping time, and prevention of the reduction of ascorbic acid and cortisol contents of adrenals in mice significantly in comparison with controls. Significant protection against aspirin and stress-induced ulcers was also observed in rats. A dose of 60 mglkg for three days showed 50% inhibition of milk-induced leucocytosis in albino rats. The effect of Ashwagandharishta-medicated wine prepared from the roots of Withania somnifera was studied in 30 patients with anxiety neurosis. Moderate improvement in palpitation, tremors, headache, anorexia, lack of concentration, dyspepsia, fatigue and irritability was observed, while maximum improvement was seen in nervousness with 49 ml of Ashwagandharishta administered in two divided doses for one month. Root powder was studied in 46 patients of rheumatoid arthritis with a dose of 4, 6 or 9 gm/day for a period of 3 to 4 weeks. Pain and swelling disappeared completely in 14 patients; considerable improvement was observed in 10 patients and 11 patients showed mild improvement. There was no relief in 4 patients and 7 patients discontinued the treatments. Root powder in a dose of 9 gm/day in divided doses used for 3 to 4 weeks in patients with arthritis was well tolerated. No side effects were observed with Ashwagandharishta in a dose of 40 ml/day in two divided doses given for a month to thirty patients with anxiety neurosis. In acute toxicity studies LD, 0 of the alcoholic extract of seeds was 1750 141 mg (P. O.) in albino mice.

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