Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

Family: Solanaceae

Parts commonly used: Root.

Properties/energetics: Rejuvenative tonic, adaptogen, anti-inflammatory, aphrodisiac, astringent, mild sedative/Warm; sweet, bitter.

Systems predominantly affected:  Reproductive, immune, nervous, musculoskeletal.

Uses: This herb, popularly known as the Indian Ginseng, is used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat cerebral function deficits in the elderly, enhance learning and memory retention in the normal population, and enhance antistress and immune response. It is an exceptionally efficient herb for treating male erectile dysfunction and infertility. It is also a specific strengthening tonic for countering poor growth in children as well as convalescence and the diseases of aging. Ashwagandha has an affinity with the nervous system, improving strength of mind and treating wasting diseases, insomnia, and neurasthenia. It shows an affinity with the musculoskeletal system and is useful for treating joint and nerve pain as well as weaknesses in the knees and the back.

Combinations: Combines well with Siberian Ginseng (Eleuthero) or Suma for preparing a highly nutritious adaptogenic tonic for the reproductive organs and the nervous system, with Gotu Kola for brain and nerve tonic, and with Ginkgo for treating forgetfulness in the elderly. Use with Wild Oats for treating exhaustion and with American Ginseng for a mild sedative and adaptogen.

Affects on specific body types: Ashwagandha is a classic Seer tonic. Its nutritive adaptogenic qualities are highly nourishing for individuals experiencing nervous exhaustion (both physical and emotional) and those who feel stressed, burnt out, wired, and jittery. Ashwagandha is an established aphrodisiac for reviving low libido, low sexual vitality, and minor erectile dysfunction associated with exhaustion. This root is also wonderfully supportive for Seer children, especially those who show patterns of low weight gain, tend to be allergic, and show dark circles under their eyes. It is considered antianemic, helping raise hemoglobin levels in children, and is good for all kids losing weight because of chronic disease. It’s best to decoct (simmer) this herb in milk for weight gain.

Precautions: None. This root is totally safe and effective for use with children, for convalescent individuals of all ages, and for nourishing the aged. It can be used during pregnancy and lactation if needed. In fact, it is recommended for weak pregnancy to help stabilize the fetus.

Preparations/dosage: Ayurvedic medicine traditionally infuses the root powder in boiled warm milk (about 1 tablespoon per cup) sweetened with maple syrup or raw sugar; take 1 cup twice a day. Can also be used as a water infusion (about 1 tablespoon per cup). Tincture: 30 to 40 drops two or three times a day, often taken with milk.

By James Green, Herbalist, copyright 2008

For more information please refer to James Green’s book, The Male Herbal, 2nd Edition