17 Oct Herb of the Month; Withania somnifera
The October magickal moon herb goes to.. Withania somnifera, better known as Ashwaghanda.
Native to: Indian subcontinent
Ashwaghanda is a highly esteemed plant in Ayurvedic medicine, one of the most commonly utilised! The name, ashwagandha means smell of the horse in Sanskrit, a combination of the word ashva, meaning horse, and gandha, meaning smell, reflecting the pungent horsey smell of the roots. It has a rich history of use in the subcontinent, where this plant has been turned to for support for more than 3 thousands years as a rejuvenative tonic. Withania is also nicknamed Indian ginseng, as the relationship India has to ashwagandha is similar to China’s relationship with Panax ginseng; a powerful tonic for debility. This may also refer to the fact that the primary actives in Withania, the withanolides, are structurally similar to ginsenosides from Panax ginseng. Ashwaghanda’s effect is both calming & mildly energising without being over-stimulating. It’s deep tuberous roots, can ground us deeply into our own nervous systems.
Withania in action:
Anxiolytic: Quite simply, Withania reduces stress, and it does this through various actions. One of those is by directly reducing cortisol levels. Here’s some science facts to back it up: “Ashwagandha has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety in both animal and human studies.” There is also evidence to suggest Withania can aid in reducing depression. Another way that it reduces stress is by aiding our ability to cope with it being adaptogenic. You know what they say about stress! It’s connected to 6 of the leading causes of death. Co-incidence? Unlikely. But don’t stress about your stress levels, just eat withania..
Adaptogenic: Withania’s ability to help the body combat physical stress is commendable. An adaptogen aids the body with adapting to change, especially stress. It work as an all over tonic especially to the central nervous system. This comes with the added benefits of slowing ageing and has a beneficial effect on the endocrine and cardiopulmonary systems. Withania can even increase your muscle mass & strength, likely to do with those steroidal lactones. Adapting to stress & improving body composition. Withania offers a lot.
Male Fertility tonic: This mighty plant can even boost fertility in men by building testosterone levels as well as being a potent anti-oxidant. The less oxidative stress, the higher the sperm quality & quantity. A testosterone boost may contribute to part of Withania’s muscle building & fat burning actions, particularly on men. One plant, many actions.
Just to name a few…
Other Medicinal Actions: immune enhancing, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, hypotensive, brain tonic, diuretic (seeds), hypnotic (seeds), reduce blood sugar levels, reduce blood pibds & cholesterol
Constituents: over 40 withanolides (which are triterpene lactones), withaferin A, 12 alkaloids, steroidal lactones, tropine, and cuscohygrine.