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Ashwagandha, scientifically known as Withania somnifera, is popular as Indian Ginseng or Indian Winter Cherry. This wonderful medicinal herb has a profound nurturing effect on nervous system and it is potentially beneficial in counteracting with anxiety and stress. Since long ages, it is adored by Ayurvedic practitioners and herbalists. Historically in India, it is always well accepted by traditional health care system in a holistic fashion. The benefits of this wonderful herb were also illustrated in old wise books like Charak Samhita, Susruta Samhita and Ashtaang Samagraha. Ashwagandha, an all purpose Ayurvedic herb, is like a divine gift from God, which not only makes out lives lengthy but promises a healthy living as well. Literally meaning sweat of a horse, it symbolizes the dynamic youthfulness and liveliness of a horse and also resembles the root’s odor as that of a horse. AvailabilityThe wide area of Indian subcontinent is blessed with the natural production of this amazing herb. It is usually grown in the areas having moderate to warm atmospheric condition. This medium height bushy herb is most prevalently found at 1000 5000ft altitude. Chemical StructureThe major constituent of Ashwagandha is Withanolid A. It is also combined with withanone and some amount of withaferin A, withanolide I, II, III, A, B, E, F, G,
H, I, J, K, L, M, P, S, and WS I. The root is high with Alkaloid property. There are other significant ingredients that play an effective role in enhancing our body system. It comprises of three types of tastes, that is, tikta (pungent), katu (strong) and madhur (sweet). It is also recognized as adaptogen for its non toxic content having the ability to normalize physiological functions. It profoundly affects Hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis (HPA axis) and more specifically on neuroendocrine system. Essentially being paradoxical in nature from herbalist’s perspective, it is anti inflammatory on one hand, but still has nutritional property at the other, which is widely contradictory with the rest of the herbs belonging to the same family of plants such as belladonna and henbane. Ashwagandha is found to have anti arthritic, anti anxiety, calmative and aphrodisiac properties. Several useful constituents make the herb so much valuable for different therapeutic approaches. Some researchers also hypothesizethat it may have antioxidant properties that help reduce the symptoms of ageing. It is believed that it has the ability to control the damages occurred with free radicals. Free radicals particularly produce an adverse effect on normal ageing process and also free radicals have a profound effect in other several neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.