Ashwagandha is a member of nightshade family which has been used in Ayurveda for years as a strengthening tonic to speed healing during and after the illness. In Sanskrit  Ashwagandha means “smell of horses”.  It is an adaptogenic herb which is well known for its calming properties, reducing the stress, inducing sleep and increasing vigor and vitality.

The following are the therapeutic uses of the herb:

  • Rejuvenating Herb
  • Immune system problems
  • Anti-inflammatory herb
  • Anti-anxiety
  • Treating fatigue
  • Immune system modulating
  • Anti-stress
  • Sleep Inducer
  • May treat anemia
  • Anticancer properties
  • Anti-arthritic properties

Ashwagandha is almost always used in combination with other herbs in Ayurvedic medicine. Modern research has found that this herb is rich in iron, may help anemia. The study shows that taking this herb had an increase in hemoglobin and blood cell count. Recent research shows that this herb is useful in treating cancer, might increase the effectiveness of radiation therapy and chemotherapy while reducing the side effects.

How to use

Tea: Simmer 1 teaspoon powdered root in 1 cup water for 10 minutes. Strain and drink 1/3 cup 3 times a day.

Capsule: 1- 6 grams per day of the dried root, taken 2 to 3 times a day

Extract: Standardized extracts containing 2.5 anolides, taken at doses of 500mg 2- 3 times a day

Tinctures: 2 to 4 ml, taken 3 times a day


Generally, Ashwagandha is safe to use, though it can cause sedation, nausea, and diarrhea. Some studies show that it can stimulate the thyroid hormonal activity, so those who are taking thyroid medication need to use it caution. It should not be used during the pregnancy since it can stimulate the uterus.  Do not use it with sedating medications because of the potential interactions.


National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs: The World’s Most Effective Healing Plants

By Rebecca.L. Johnson and Steven Foster Tieraona Low Dog, MD and David Kiefer, MD

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