Withania somnifera known more popularly as Ashwagandha or Indian Ginseng, is a herb used in Ayurvedic medicine, the traditional medicine of India. Ashva means “horse” and gandha means “smell” in Sanskrit. It is said to have a “horsey” smell. It is part of the nightshade family of plants and grows in India, Middle East, and parts of Africa. Root extract is most commonly used in herbal medicine.
May help relieve stress, anxiety, and depression. May improve brain function and sleep.
A 2020 review of the use of herbal medications for treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis notes ashwagandha has anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects with significant decrease in self-reported pain scores in a study on people with knee OA. Significant reduction in scores for pain, stiffness, and disability was also observed.
Ashwagandha has been consumed for many years in the use of Ayurvedic medicine. It is a safe herbal supplement, but no studies have been done on long term use. One study on the safety of ashwagandha found that consumption of the root extract for 8 weeks was safe in both males and females with no adverse events reported.
Where to find it
You can find ashwagandha in many forms. Readily available online and in stores are soft chews, capsules and powder supplements. Traditional ayurvedic remedies can use the leaves, seeds, or fruit.