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Ashwagandha / Indian Ginseng (Withania Somnifera)

Ashwagandha is a small shrub grown in India that bears small berrylike red fruit. It is popularly known as Indian ginseng because of its remarkable rejuvenative and adaptogenic benefits. Ashwagandha's ability to enhance physical performance, increase energy and stamina has made it the herb of choice for athletes. Ashwagandha is the premier Ayurvedic herb for rejuvenation and is known to boost immunity and resistance to stress. It is a natural stress reliever and promotes sound, restful sleep. At the same time, due to its ability to regulate hormones and improve testosterone profile Ashwagandha is a well-known ayurvedic aphrodisiac and increases libido in males and females.

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Himalaya Ashwagandha capsules
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Ashwagandha has been the subject of many clinical studies and research.

Selective killing of cancer cells by leaf extract of Ashwagandha: Components, activity and pathway analyses.

Widodo N, Takagi Y, Shrestha BG, Ishii T, Kaul SC, Wadhwa R. National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science & Technology (AIST), Central 4, 1-1-1 Higashi, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8562, Japan; Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology, University of Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8575, Japan.

Ashwagandha, also called as "Queen of Ayurveda" and "Indian ginseng", is a commonly used plant in Indian traditional medicine, Ayurveda. Its roots have been used as herb remedy to treat a variety of ailments and to promote general wellness. However, scientific evidence to its effects is limited to only a small number of studies. We had previously identified anti-cancer activity in the leaf extract (i-Extract) of Ashwagandha and demonstrated withanone as a cancer inhibitory factor (i-Factor). In the present study, we fractionated the i-Extract to its components by silica gel column chromatography and subjected them to cell based activity analyses. We found that the cancer inhibitory leaf extract (i-Extract) has, at least, seven components that could cause cancer cell killing; i-Factor showed the highest selectivity for cancer cells and i-Factor rich Ashwagandha leaf powder was non-toxic and anti-tumorigenic in mice assays. We undertook a gene silencing and pathway analysis approach and found that i-Extract and its components kill cancer cells by at least five different pathways, viz. p53 signaling, GM-CFS signaling, death receptor signaling, apoptosis signaling and G2-M DNA damage regulation pathway. p53 signaling was most common. Visual analysis of p53 and mortalin staining pattern further revealed that i-Extract, fraction F1, fraction F4 and i-Factor caused an abrogation of mortalin-p53 interactions and reactivation of p53 function while the fractions F2, F3, F5 work through other mechanisms.

PMID: 18191020 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Withania somnifera: An Indian ginseng.

Kulkarni SK, Dhir A. Pharmacology Division, University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Panjab University, Chandigarh — 160 014, India.

Withania somnifera, popularly known as Ashwagandha is widely considered as the Indian ginseng. In Ayurveda, it is classified as a rasayana (rejuvenation) and expected to promote physical and mental health, rejuvenate the body in debilitated conditions and increase longevity. Having wide range of activity, it is used to treat almost all disorders that affect the human health. The present review discusses the pharmacological basis of the use of W. somnifera in various central nervous system (CNS) disorders, particularly its indication in epilepsy, stress and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disorders, tardive dyskinesia, cerebral ischemia, and even in the management of drug addiction.

PMID: 17959291 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Chondroprotective potential of root extracts of Withania somnifera in osteoarthritis.

Sumantran VN, Kulkarni A, Boddul S, Chinchwade T, Koppikar SJ, Harsulkar A, Patwardhan B, Chopra A, Wagh UV. Interactive Research School for Health Affairs (IRSHA),Bhartiya Vidyapeeth Deemed University Medical College Campus,Dhankawadi,Pune 411043,India,

This is the first report describing two novel chondroprotective activities of aqueous extracts of Withania somnifera root powder.First,these extracts had a statistically significant,short-term chondroprotective effect on damaged human osteoarthritic cartilage matrix in 50% of the patients tested. Second,these extracts caused a significant and reproducible inhibition of the gelatinase activity of collagenase type 2 enzyme in vitro.

PMID: 17435322 [PubMed - in process]


The relationship between chondroprotective and antiinflammatory effects of Withania somnifera root and glucosamine sulphate on human osteoarthritic cartilage in vitro.Sumantran VN, Chandwaskar R, Joshi AK, Boddul S, Patwardhan B, Chopra A, Wagh UV.

Interactive Research School for Health Affairs (IRSHA), Bhartiya Vidyapeeth Deemed University Medical College Campus, Dhankawadi, Pune 411043, India.

Using a validated explant model of in vitro cartilage damage, the effects of aqueous extracts of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) root and glucosamine sulphate (GlcS) were tested on the levels of nitric oxide (NO) and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) secreted by knee cartilage from chronic osteoarthritis (OA) patients. W. somnifera extracts significantly decreased NO release by explants from one subset of patients (antiinflammatory response) and significantly increased levels of NO and GAGs released by explants from the second subset ('non-responders'). This is the first study showing direct, statistically significant, antiinflammatory effects of W. somnifera on human OA cartilage. It also confirmed that glucosamine sulphate exhibited statistically significant, antiinflammatory and chondroprotective activities in human OA cartilage. However, these beneficial effects of GlcS were observed in cartilage explants from 50% of patients tested ('responders'). In contrast, glucosamine significantly increased secretion of NO but not GAGs in explants from the second subset of OA patients ('non-responders'). Cartilage explants from the 11 OA patients gave differential responses to both drugs. Patient samples which responded to the antiinflammatory effects of W. somnifera did not always give a similar response to glucosamine, and vice versa. Thus, this in vitro model of human cartilage damage provides qualitative and statistically significant, quantitative pre-clinical data on antiinflammatory and chondroprotective activities of antiarthritic drugs.

Effect of Withania somnifera Dunal root extract against pentylenetetrazol seizure threshold in mice: possible involvement of GABAergic system.

Kulkarni SK, Akula KK, Dhir A. Pharmacology Division, University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Panjab University, Chandigarh 160 014, India.

Withania somnifera (ashwagandha) is a widely used herb in the Ayurvedic system of medicine. The objective of the present study was to elucidate the effect of W. somnifera root extract (Ws) alone or in combination with exogenous gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA), a GABA receptor agonist or with diazepam, a GABA receptor modulator against pentylenetetrazol (PTZ, iv) seizure threshold in mice. Minimal dose of PTZ (iv, mg/kg) needed to induce different phases (myoclonic jerks, generalized clonus and tonic extension) of convulsions were recorded as an index of seizure threshold. Ws (100 or 200 mg/kg, po) increased the PTZ seizure threshold for the onset of tonic extension phase whereas a lower dose (50 mg/kg, po) did not show any effect on the seizure threshold. Co-administration of a sub-effective dose of Ws (50 mg/kg, po) with a sub-protective dose of either GABA (25 mg/kg, ip) or diazepam (0.5 mg/kg, ip) increased the seizure threshold. The results suggested that the anticonvulsant effect of W. somnifera against PTZ seizure threshold paradigm involved the GABAAergic modulation.

Natural products as a gold mine for arthritis treatment.

Khanna D, Sethi G, Ahn KS, Pandey MK, Kunnumakkara AB, Sung B, Aggarwal A, Aggarwal BB. Division of Immunology, Department of Medicine, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, USA.

Arthritis, an inflammation of the joints, is usually a chronic disease that results from dysregulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines (e.g. tumour necrosis factor and interleukin-1beta) and pro-inflammatory enzymes that mediate the production of prostaglandins (e.g. cyclooxygenase-2) and leukotrienes (e.g. lipooxygenase), together with the expression of adhesion molecules and matrix metalloproteinases, and hyperproliferation of synovial fibroblasts. All of these factors are regulated by the activation of the transcription factor nuclear factor-kappaB. Thus, agents that suppress the expression of tumour necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin-1beta, cyclooxygenase-2, lipooxygenase, matrix metalloproteinases or adhesion molecules, or suppress the activation of NF-kappaB, all have potential for the treatment of arthritis. Numerous agents derived from plants can suppress these cell signaling intermediates, including curcumin (from turmeric), resveratrol (red grapes, cranberries and peanuts), tea polyphenols, genistein (soy), quercetin (onions), silymarin (artichoke), guggulsterone (guggul), boswellic acid (salai guggul) and withanolides (ashwagandha). Indeed, several preclinical and clinical studies suggest that these agents have potential for arthritis treatment. Although gold compounds are no longer employed for the treatment of arthritis, the large number of inexpensive natural products that can modulate inflammatory responses, but lack side effects, constitute 'goldmines' for the treatment of arthritis.

PMID: 17475558 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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