Ashwagandha AKA Winter Cherry
Ashwagandha (Nan Fei Zui Jia)
Botanical Name: Withania somnifera
Ashwagandha (AKA Winter Cherry) is considered the “ginseng” of Indian Ayurvedic medicine. It is a powerful antioxidant, adaptogen and anti-inflammatory. It increases physical energy, immunity and fertility and is the most popular herb used in Ayurvedic medicine.
Below is an overview of Ashwagandha (Nan Fei Zui Jia), combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Ashwagandha (Nan Fei Zui Jia).
Western Name: Winter Cherry
Also Known As: Winter Cherry, Indian Ginseng, Ajagandha, Poison gooseberry
Organs/Systems: Immune System, Heart, Lungs, Nervous System
Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Adaptogen, Alterative, Analgesic, Cardioprotective, Antispasmodic, Anti-inflammatory, Slightly Sedating, Nervine Tonic, Diuretic, Nutritive Tonic, Thyroid Stimulant, Aphrodisiac. Poor memory, low back pain, joint pain, arthritis, effects of stress, anxiety, leucorrhea, insomnia, depression, drug and alcohol withdrawal, skin ulcers, regulates blood sugar levels, cancer, headaches, heart disease
Pin Yin: Nan Fei Zui Jia
Also Known As: Ashwagandha
Meridians: Lung, Heart, Spleen
Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Tonifies Qi and Wei Qi: builds immunity, strength, aids recovery. Tonifies Lung Qi: colds, coughs, heavy feeling in the chest, tuberculosis. Tonifies Spleen: poor appetite, diarrhea, poor memory, mental confusion. Tonifies Jing: impotence, male fertility. Calms Shen: Insomnia, anxiety, stress disorders.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Ripened Fruit, Dried Fruit, Root, Seeds, Leaves
Flavors/Temps: Sweet, Bitter, Pungent, Warming
Caution: Considered safe unless taken in high doses. High doses can cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Not recommended for pregnant women.
History/Folklore: Studies show that ashwagandha significantly increases white blood cell counts improving immunity. It is known to increase the chemical pathways of the brain increasing memory and other brain functions. It improves mental sharpness and helps counteract the effects of mental stress. It is known to have a mildly sedating effect on the central nervous system, aiding sleep and calming anxiety. Ashwagandha helps reduce the stress hormone cortisol which in turn reduces stress-induced mitochondrial dysfunction.
The species name “somnifera” means “sleep-inducing” in Latin. The name ashwagandha, is derived from the word “ashva” meaning horse, and “gandha” meaning smell, referencing the roots strong sweaty-horse-like odor.
The herb has traditionally been used to treat various diseases associated with nerve tissue damage related to the effects of free radicals. Being an adaptogen the plant is known to increase the body’s capacity to face a wide range of chemical, physical and mental stresses. It is commonly used to aid recovery after a chronic or serious illnesses including exhaustion, AIDS, and tuberculosis. Ashwagandha is one of the few sedating and calming adaptogen herbs available making it especially useful for those suffering from anxiety.
In India, the powdered root was typically added to milk and ghee with a bit of honey, or it can be added to smoothies with cardamom and dates.
The roots are used for healing digestive disorders including loss of appetite, diarrhea and bloating.
The powered root is useful for treating coughs and colds and the berries and seeds are also used to treat chest complaints.
The leaves are useful for treating skin diseases including boils and swollen hands and feet. A paste of the leaves used topically helps kill lice, sooth carbuncles and heal syphilitic sores. A balm made by boiling the leaves in fat can be applied to treat bedsores and wounds. A paste made from the roots and leaves is useful for treating skin ulcers and inflammations.
Ashwagandha helps ease the pain of arthritic conditions and joint pain.
Ashwagandha is showing promise as a cancer prevention herb. It supports the endocrine, cardiac and central nervous systems. The herb slows the growth of tumors. It is also the one herb that helps your body produce thyroid hormones.
Ashwagandha is used to restore male libido, cure impotence and increase male fertility. In India and Southern Asia it is commonly used as a male sex tonic. Research has proven that herb has a direct spermatogenic influence and increasing testosterone levels.
As an adaptogen the herb works best when taken over a longer period of time, such as 3-6 weeks and on an ongoing basis.
Phytochemical compounds, Somniferine, Volatile oil, Resin, Fatty acids, Potassium nitrate, Tannin, Glucose, Alkaloids, Steroidal lactones (Including Tropine and Cuscohygrine and the leaves also contain Withaferin A).
One teaspoon of powder of dried ashwagandha root consumed daily in warm milk at bedtime will help counter sexual weakness.
Prevent Premature Aging
If taken regularly ashwagandha prevents premature aging and premature gray hair.
The use of ashwagandha massage oil helps soothe children suffering from rickets.
References: For a complete list of references please visit our References and Resources page.
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