Ashwagandha / Winter Cherry
Ashwagandha / Winter Cherry (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.
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Below is an overview of ashwagandha / winter cherry, combining the best of Western Science, Oriental Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore, and a wide range of healing modalities. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of ashwagandha / winter cherry.
How to take FULL advantage of Ashwagandha / Winter Cherry's healing powers...
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Western Name: Ashwagandha / Winter Cherry
Also Known As: Indian Ginseng, Ajagandha, Poison gooseberry
Organs/Systems: Immune System, Heart, Lungs, Nervous System
Key Actions: Adaptogen, Alterative, Analgesic, Cardioprotective, Antispasmodic, Anti-inflammatory, Slightly Sedating, Nervine Tonic, Diuretic, Nutritive Tonic, Thyroid Stimulant, Aphrodisiac
Medicinal Uses: Poor memory, low back pain, joint pain, arthritis, effects of stress, anxiety, leucorrhea, insomnia, depression, drug, and alcohol withdrawal, skin ulcers, blood sugar regulation, cancer, headaches, heart disease, increases testosterone, sperm count, and improves sperm motility.
Pin Yin: Nan Fei Zui Jia
Also Known As: Ashwagandha
Meridians: Lung, Heart, Spleen
Key Actions: Tonifies Qi, Tonifies Wei Qi, Tonifies Lung Qi, Tonifies Spleen, Tonifies Jing, Calms Shen
Medicinal Uses: Builds immunity, strength, aids recovery, colds, coughs, heavy feeling in the chest, tuberculosis, poor appetite, diarrhea, poor memory, mental confusion, impotence, male fertility, insomnia, anxiety, stress disorders, depression.
Basic Habitat / Botany:
Ashwagandha is a member of the Solanaceae nightshade family of plants. It is a small shrub-sized plant that grows to be only 15-30 inches tall. Its yellow or green flowers are shaped like bells. Green leaves sprout from the branches which culminate in small, tomato-like fruit that turn orange or reddish-orange when ripe. The roots are long, brown, and tuberous.
Native to India, it is cultivated in the arid regions of Punjab, Gujurat, and Pradesh. It is now also grown in western Asia, Yemen, and China.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Ripened Fruit, Dried Fruit, Root, Seed, Leaf
Flavors/Temps: Sweet, Bitter, Pungent, Warming
Caution: Considered safe unless taken in high doses. High doses can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Not recommended for pregnant women.
Key Constituents: 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)
History/Folklore: Studies show that ashwagandha significantly increases white blood cell count, improving immunity. It is known to increase the neural pathways of the brain improving memory and mental sharpness while also counteracting 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 root’s strong sweaty-horse-like odor and its ability to increase strength. The literal translation is “smell of the horse.”
Ashwagandha has traditionally been used as an anti-inflammatory to treat various diseases associated with nerve tissue damage from the effects of free radicals. Being an adaptogen it 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 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. It can also 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, soothe 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 and slows the growth of tumors.
Ashwagandha is the one herb that helps your body produce thyroid hormones. It is known to improve thyroid function, treat adrenal fatigue, increase stamina and endurance, and significantly reduce stress and symptoms associated with chronic stress. It has been shown to support a sluggish thyroid for people diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, or underactive thyroid. A study showed that a treatment group given 600 mg of ashwagandha extract daily, experienced improved serum thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroxine (T4) levels significantly compared to the placebo group. The study concluded that the herb may be beneficial for normalizing thyroid levels in patients with hypothyroidism.
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 it has a direct spermatogenic influence and increases 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.
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How to use Ashwagandha / Winter Cherry (Nan Fei Zui Jia) and take FULL advantage of it's healing powers!
Find out how to safely use this powerful herb and get specific recipes you can make use of immediately. Dive deep into Eastern and Western perspectives about HOW and WHY this herb works. Includes uses, benefits, essential oils, gardening tips, and much, much more.
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