Ashwagandha or Indian Winter Cherry or simply Winter cherry is also known by the name Indian Ginseng. Its Latin name is Withania somniferum. It’s a shrub which grows prolifically in Pakistan and India to a height of 170 cms. To the ancient Arabs it was a narcotic, health tonic and the root is used as an aphrodisiac, rather similar to that other root, safed musli but it has many more health benefits, rather like Brahmi.
The Japanese have a patent application on it as a skin ointment and also use it to promote fertility. In the US the New England Deaconess Hospital has a patent for using it for the treatment of arthritis, which is one of the traditional uses of this shrub. It is an adaptogen and helps with stress related diseases.
The root is mainly used in traditional medicine on the subcontinent, and the berries can be substituted for rennet in making cheese. The leaves can be bruised, crushed and smeared onto arthritic joints as they are in Ethiopia. In Pakistan the cortex of the root is ground into a powder and mixed with water then kneaded into a paste which is smeared onto wounds to disinfect them and to promote rapid healing. In Africa the root is given as a sedative to children and to soothe teething pains. The ancient Assyrians used to burn the root and channel the smoke onto a painful tooth to cure the pain of toothache. In Yemen it is still used for this purpose.
However its primary use in folk medicine is as an aphrodisiac and it has been used as a love potion too for centuries. Folk healers still prepare love potions from the root of Ashwagandha.
The name Ashwagandha means ‘sweat of a horse’ and it is thought that this refers to the strength and sexual vigour of the horse. It is used to cure impotency, fatigue and waning memory, and it is now known that it boosts the immune system, relieves various types of stress, revitalizes muscles, and bones, and is good for a restful sleep, diabetes, general debility, and a stimulant. It also helps restore neurotransmitters and so is used for mental disorders associated with aging.
Apart from boosting the male semen count and helping with erectile dysfunctions, it also stabilizes the foetus and later boosts a nursing mother’s supply of breast milk.
The recommended dose is 3-5 grams of powder from the root taken daily in milk. Twice a day is more than sufficient for male sexual disorders and results are seen after a week in most cases, although it may take longer to work in some cases.
Like Gotu Kola and Brahmi this is another wonder herb, and an aphrodisiac that has been working for many centuries.