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Withania / Ashwagandha

By David Coory

During the past year, my sweet wife Marie was beginning to suffer from fearfulness and not wanting to venture out from home or drive in traffic. She tried one popular natural remedy, but it only made her feel worse.

My daughter Teresa, who works for Health House, recommended that she try the herb Withania (which is another name for Ashwagandha) as she receives so much positive feedback from users. So Marie began taking one capsule a day. The improvement was immediate. Her fearfulness diminished, she began driving again, sleeping like a baby and she gained a boost in energy.

Impressive scientific studies

I was impressed, so I did some more research into this herb and was even more impressed. There are over 14,000 studies in which this herb is mentioned, and in every instance I saw, the results were favourable, especially in stress related disorders. In fact there was hardly any mind or body disorder that wasn’t normalised or improved, and no harmful or unpleasant side effects were reported.

The most common reports were a calming and clearing of the mind, deeper sleep, normalising of body functions, increased libido and more energy. But also reported were, reduced inflammation, normalising of lipid blood fats and cholesterol, increased production of immune system red and white blood cells, improved skin tone, normalising of thyroid function, less sore joints and improved growth in children.

Glowing reports from practising Herbalists

I also found practising Herbalists all around the world, glowing in their testimonies of the healthful effects on their patients from Ashwagandha, especially its calming effects, its boosting of vitality, improved sleep and clearing of the mind. Christchurch Herbalist Richard Whelan writes, “People sleep better, they feel less irritable and it takes more to get them upset. I notice that people look a little younger after a short while of taking Ashwagandha and I guess this is because they are frowning less and smiling more!”

A very safe herb

Richard also states, “Ashwagandha has been used by millions of people for thousands of years with no adverse reactions reported or expected for this herb.” (However as Ashwagandha appears to normalise thyroid function, if you are taking thyroid medication you should let your doctor know.)

Where does Ashwagandha come from?

Ashwagandha herbal powder is made from the dried root of a shrub by the same name. It grows about knee-high in hot, dry conditions and has red berries inside yellow pods. The root powder has an aroma that’s described as ‘horse-like’ which is how the plant gets its name. ‘Ashwa’ is Sanskrit for ‘horse’ and ‘gandha’ is ‘smell.’ Traditionally the herb is said to ‘Instill the vitality of a horse.’

Amazing results of a double-blind study on 64 stressed men and women

A clinical trial was done in India to determine the reduction of stress and worry in 64 healthy men and women between 18 and 54 with a history of chronic stress. Half the group took one 300mg capsule of concentrated Ashwagandha root extract twice a day after food, with water for 60 days, and the other half, the placebo group took a look-a-like capsule.

Using industry standard stress-assessment questionnaires, after 60 days the results of the Ashwagandha group showed a huge 73% reduction in stress symptoms from their baseline figures. Whereas the placebo group only averaged 2%, even though stress management talks were part of the study. The stress hormone cortisol also dropped 28% in the Ashwagandha group. ‘Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine’ 2012 34(3): 255–262

What Christchurch Herbalist Richard Whelan is finding in his practice

“What happens after a while, usually about a week, I hear people say things like – they feel more motivated and have been getting more things done. This is a sign of true tonic effect – first it relaxes you, then it turns round and starts energising you.”

“I find it so helpful in clinical practice where many of my patients have been ill for a long time. The increased sleep and relaxation moves the healing process along.”

“I could no more imagine treating people’s tiredness without Withania (Ashwagandha) than I could treat immune problems without Echinacea.”

“People in their 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond do very well on Ashwagandha and, so long as they keep taking it for long enough you see a consistent renewal of vitality and improved health.”

“I think this is the single most important herb to help a person with a low thyroid function. The improving numbers from lab tests speak for themselves.”

“Speaking for myself, but also having experimented with many students and colleagues, I can say that the energy of this humble looking but potent herb can usually be felt right down at the very core – in one's bone marrow you might say. It truly is quite a remarkable tonic, but I think you will have to try it for yourself to see what I mean.”