Withania

“Withania”

A mainstay for managing high cortisol yet at the same time, improving “stores” of vitality.  In Ayurvedic medicine it is known as a rejuvenating botanical – improving the body’s ability to maintain physical effort and help the body adapt to various types of stress.

Withania is reputed to impart the vigour and strength of a stallion.  

It’s also a key herb for adrenal and sexual health, by supporting healthy testosterone levels and DHEA levels.

The species name; ‘somnifera’, comes from the herb’s use as a sleep aid and sedative. 

Ashwagandha is one of the rasayana herbs in Ayurveda — one of the herbs that purportedly promotes youth and longevity and alleviates suffering. 


Botanical Name: Withania somnifera

Common name: Withania, Ashwaganda, Winter Cherry, Indian ginseng

Family: Solanaceae

Parts Used: Root


Active Constituents: 

  • Alkaloids
  • Steroidal lactones (withanolides and withaferins, sitoindosides)
  • Iron – not enough to restore but to provide tonic to decrease fatigue
  • Amino acids — improve brain function/neurotransmitter support

Qualities:

Bitter, sweet, warm and relaxing

Phase of Life & Emotional Connections: Fulfilment. Tonic for the nerves and brain.


Actions: 

  • Adaptogenic
  • Tonic
  • Nervine
  • Mild sedative – on an unregulated nervous system
  • Nervous system tonic
  • Blood tonic / Anti-anaemic
  • Anti-tumour
  • Antiinflammatory
  • Immune Modulating
  • Thyroid Modulating – improve T4 —> T3 
  • Anti-arrhythmic (Hechtman, 2012)
  • Aphrodisiac
  • Hepatic
  • Anti-stress – via modulation of GABA and a reduction in plasma corticosterone levels

 Indications: 

  • Stress (physical and emotional stress)
  • Anxiety
  • Debility / convalescence — especially immune deficient/depleted 
  • Insomnia (sleep maintenance and onset) – balance natural sleep cycles
  • Sleep deprivation – can reverse anxiety and improve locomotor activity that can be induced by sleep deprivation and also improve all biochemical parameters of oxidative stress
  • Nervous exhaustion where sleep issues are prominent
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • May prevent cancer / Cancer Therapy
  • Athletes
  • Elderly
  • Pregnancy?? (Traditionally used)
  • Recovery after illness in children
  • Anaemia or failure to thrive in children
  • Pernicious anaemia
  • Chronic inflammatory disease ie arthritis
  • Hypothyroidism

Contraindications: None known

Cautions: 

  • Solanaceae sensitivity?? 
  • High doses may cause GIT upset, diarrhoea or vomiting (alkaloids) Pregnancy?
  • Hyperthyroidism?

Dosage: 

Liquid Extract

ORx 1:1  20-50 mL week

MediHerb 2:1 

Nutrition Care:

General:

5 -14ml of 1:2 liquid extract/day

35 – 98ml of 1:2 liquid extract/week 20- 50ml of 1:1 liquid extract/week

Dried Herb Equivalent
3 – 6 g / day dried root (decoction)


Combinations:

  • Eleutherococcus for immune dysregulation and stress
  • Passiflora for anxiety and sleep issues

POINTS OF NOTE:

  • The alkaloids present in withania are understood to be responsible for the sedative and hypotensive actions
  • Used in convalescence, it contains iron and has been shown to increase haemoglobin
  • A mild sedative, withania is used in many conditions exacerbated by stress, including insomnia and male sexual dysfunction
  • Anti inflammatory, in conditions including asthma, psoriasis and rheumatic pains
  • Used in convalescence due to its immune modulating effects
  • May promote learning and memory as well as senile dementia


    References & Links to Articles:

    Bone, K. (2003) Guide to blending liquid herbs

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