Withania somnifera

AKA Winter Cherry, Withania, Indian Ginseng, Avarada

Parts used:  primarily the root

Properties:  Immune modulator; Adaptogenic; Nervine; Tonic; Anti-inflammatory; Antispasmodic; Antioxidant; Astringent; Diuretic; Possibly antitumor

Ashwaganda has a long and very prominent history of use in Ayurveda-the traditional herbal medicine system in India.  In modern times it's classified as an adaptogen.  It's an invigorating herb when used regularly and helps to improve sleep quality and reduce stress.  This may seem like a contradiction but, unlike other adaptogens like ginseng, it gives an initial boost of energy (probably because it's high in iron) but also has a sedative action.  It brings the body onto balance and is thought to hold off the effects of aging on the body.  It strengthens the mind and I especially love to combine it with Brahmi (Bacopa) and Gotu Kola as a mental tonic.  I use this herb regularly and find that it reduces stress and clears the proverbial cobwebs from my mind.  It is also thought to be a sexual tonic, especially for men, but is also beneficial for women and can calm the unpleasant symptoms of menopause.  It may also be useful in slowing down the ravages of Alzheimer's disease and is an adrenal tonic.  I have also found that it quickly calms caffeine jitters after having too much coffee.  The high iron content makes it useful for treating anemia.

HINT:  When making a vinegar or alcohol based extract of dried Ashwaganda root, I have found that you need only fill your jar about half full because this herb expands much more than most!

How to use: 

Fluid extract/Tincture:  30-40 drops, 3 X daily.

Decoction:  1/2 teaspoon dried root per 8 ounces of water, decoct for 10 minutes and steep for another 30 minutes.  Drink 4 ounces 3 times a day.

Capsules:  Take one 400-500 mg capsule twice a day.

Can also be taken as 1/2 teaspoon of powder in warm water or mixed with molasses in milk for anemia.

Contraindications:  if you are allergic to other plants in the nightshade family.  Do not use if you have excess iron and avoid use during pregnancy.