Ashwagandha – Materia Medica


Ashwagandha has been used for upwards of 6,000 years in Ayurvedic medicine, especially for its tonic and adaptogenic abilities. Should you look up the history of this plant in Ayurvedic texts you will see that it was believed to give you the strength and virility of a horse. Don’t let that deter you from the idea of using it, for the medicinal benefits are amazing! With so many of us leading hectic lifestyles, this is the perfect answer to helping battle chronic stress and the demands of work and life. You can even add ashwagandha to food and beverages; see the link below for details.

  • Common Name: Ashwagandha (Indian Winter Cherry, Indian Ginseng)

  • Latin Name: Withania somnifera L.

  • Family: Solanaceae

  • Areas of Origin: India, northern Africa and the Middle East

  • Botanical Description: A small woody shrub/herb which grows to about 2’. Dull green leaves with yellow-green flowers that surround a reddish-orange berry.

  • Parts Used: Roots

  • Uses: Good for the immune system, chronic stress, fatigue, lower back pain and sciatica; helpful for rheumatoid arthritis

  • Actions: Sedative, antiviral, hypotensive, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, abortificant, immunomodulating, adaptogenic, tonic, antispasmodic, febrifuge, hepatic, anodyne

  • Preparations: Tea (infusions), extract, capsules/tablets, food

  • Taste: Sharp, bitter, earthy, slightly sweet

  • Safety: Avoid during pregnancy.

  • Contraindications (Plant-Medication Combinations): May potentially increase the effects of pentobarbital and barbiturates. Avoid with digoxin medications.

Until next time, discover the power of welcoming nature’s healing plants into your life.



  • Brinker, F., N.D. (2010). Herbal Contraindications and Drug Interactions plus Herbal Adjuncts with Medicines. Oregon, Sandy: Eclectic Medical Publications.

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