Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ashwagandha Health Benefits and Side Effects

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Ashwagandha also known as Withania somnifera is a nightshape plant in the genus of Withania, belonging to the family Solanaceae, native to the dry parts of India, North Africa, Middle East, and the Mediterranean. It has been considered as Indian ginseng and used in Ayurvedic medicine over 3000 years to treat tumors and tubercular glands, carbuncles, memory loss and ulcers and considered as anti-stress, cognition-facilitating, anti-inflammatory and anti-aging herbal medicine. According to the article of "Steroidal lactones from Withania somnifera, an ancient plant for novel medicine" by Mirjalili MH, Moyano E, Bonfill M, Cusido RM, Palazón J., posted in PubMed(1)

Health Benefits
1. Alzheimer's disease
Withanamidesm, the ingredient in Ashwagandha have demonstrated the property of binding to the active motif of beta-amyloid (25-35) of which can cause the irreversible neurodegenerative disorder of Alzheimer's disease with symptoms of confusion, memory loss, and mood swings, according to the study of "Withanamides in Withania somnifera fruit protect PC-12 cells from beta-amyloid responsible for Alzheimer's disease" by Jayaprakasam B, Padmanabhan K, Nair MG., posted in PubMed(2).

2. Oxidative Stress in cognitive and other neurodegenerative disorders
Dried root aqueous extracted from Ashwagandha has demonstrated the property of by enhancing the PC12 cells against both H(2)O(2)- and Aβ((1-42))-induced cytotoxicity that can prevent the devlopment of cognitive and other neurodegenerative disorders, according to the study of "In vitro protective effects of Withania somnifera (L.) dunal root extract against hydrogen peroxide and β-amyloid(1-42)-induced cytotoxicity in differentiated PC12 cells" by Kumar S, Seal CJ, Howes MJ, Kite GC, Okello EJ., posted in PubMed(3).

3. Hypercholesterolemic effect
In a study of hypercholesterolemic rats with the composite of Ashwagandha, conducted by Sardar Patel University has effectively effectively reduce plasma and hepatic lipid profiles and increased fecal excretion of cholesterol, neutral sterol, and bile acid along with increasing the hepatic HMG-CoA reductase activity and bile acid content in hypercholesterolemic rats(4).

4. HPV and Cervical cancer
HPV is considered as the main cause of cervical cancer as it can suppress tumor suppressor proteins p53 and pRb. Withaferin A (WA) in Ashwagandha has demonstrated the activity of reactivation of tumor suppressor pathways and cause apoptosis in cervical cancer cells, according to the study of "Withaferin A induces p53-dependent apoptosis by repression of HPV oncogenes and upregulation of tumor suppressor proteins in human cervical cancer cells" by Munagala R, Kausar H, Munjal C, Gupta RC., posted in PubMed(5).

5. Breast cancer
Withaferin A (WA) has exhibiting the activities in suppressing the growth of MDA-MB-231 and MCF-7 which cause breast cancer cells, according to the study of "Withaferin A-induced apoptosis in human breast cancer cells is mediated by reactive oxygen species" by Hahm ER, Moura MB, Kelley EE, Van Houten B, Shiva S, Singh SV., posted in PubMed(6).

6. Cancers
Ethanol extract of root, stem and leaves of Withania Somnifera have showed strong activity against PC-3 and HCT-15 with 80-98% growth inhibition, according to the study of "In Vitro Anticancer Activity of the Root, Stem and Leaves of Withania Somnifera against Various Human Cancer Cell Lines" by Yadav B, Bajaj A, Saxena M, Saxena AK., posted in PubMed(7).

7. Anti-malarial activity
Extracts of the leaves and root barks of W. somnifera have shown activity of parasite suppressive effect in mice study conducted by Nutrition Research Institute, posted in PubMed(8).

8. Immunostimulatory effects
Ashwagandha can enhances immune function by increasing immunoglobulin production and regulating antibody production by augmenting both Th1 and Th2 cytokine production, according to the study of "A comparison of the immunostimulatory effects of the medicinal herbs Echinacea, Ashwagandha and Brahmi" by Yamada K, Hung P, Park TK, Park PJ, Lim BO., posted in PubMed(9).

9. Inflammatory bowel disease
extracts of Ashwagandha has shown property in inhibition of oxidative stress which cause chronic inflammation of intestinal epithelium, in a study of "Rectal gel application of Withania somnifera root extract expounds anti-inflammatory and muco-restorative activity in TNBS-induced inflammatory bowel disease" by Pawar P, Gilda S, Sharma S, Jagtap S, Paradkar A, Mahadik K, Ranjekar P, Harsulkar A., posted in PubMed(10), researchers indicated that dose of the rectal gel applied at 1000 mg of WSRE per kg rat weight showed significant muco-restorative efficacy in the IBD-induced rats, validated by histo-pathological studies.

10. Erectile dysfunction
Aphrodisiacs herbs including Ashwagandha has been considered to be effective in enhancing male sexual desire if it is taken, according to the study of "Recent studies on aphrodisiac herbs for the management of male sexual dysfunction--a review" by Malviya N, Jain S, Gupta VB, Vyas.S. posted in PubMed(11)

11. Cough
Water extracted Withania somnifera have shown the activity of decreased the number of cough efforts induced by citric acid in guinea pigs, according to the study of " In vivo anti-tussive activity and structural features of a polysaccharide fraction from water extracted Withania somnifera" by Sinha S, Nosál'ová G, Bandyopadhyay SS, Flešková D, Ray B., posted in PubMed(12).

Side Effects
1. Liver failure
Certain studies have shown that Ashwagandha may cause liver failure, if overdose, according to the study of "A 32-week randomized, placebo-controlled clinical evaluation of RA-11, an Ayurvedic drug, on osteoarthritis of the knees" by Chopra A, Lavin P, Patwardhan B, Chitre D., posted in PubMed(13)
2. Thyrotoxicosisand
Ashwagandha can cause overproduction of thyroid hormones if overdose, according to the study of "In vivo anti-tussive activity and structural features of a polysaccharide fraction from water extracted Withania somnifera" by Sinha S, Nosál'ová G, Bandyopadhyay SS, Flešková D, Ray B., posted in PubMed(14)
3. It may cause slight drowsiness to certain people
4. Etc.

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