Ashwaganda Root

Ashwaganda Root

Withania somnifera

Ashwaganda Root has calming properties which help aid in anxiety, insomnia and stress. It is an adaptogen that prevents white cell depetion and has been used in cancer treatment protocals.

  • Plant type: Annual
  • Other names: Winter Cherry, Indian ginseng
  • Medicinal: Yes
  • Culinary: Yes
  • Ceremonial: No
  • Parts Used: Root
  • Side Effects: Do not use in pregnancy
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About Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha, botanically known as Withania somnifera, is an all-time favorite plant in the Ayurvedic medicinal system. Its popularity has now grabbed the reins of the fastest stallions to surge through the Western part of the world. It belongs to the potato family, Solanaceae where it appears as a tender perennial shrub.

For being so widely spread, all around the world, Ashwagandha is hailed by several names some of which are Indian Ginseng, winter cherry, poison berry, and a lot more. It is capable of portraying a stubby frame maximum of 30 inches with elliptic, dull green leaves and small green flowers that depict the shape of the bell.

Ashwagandha is well-cheered for its adaptogenic properties. It helps balance the disturbed levels of hormones, blood cells, and immune cells. Ashwagandha also helps in reducing stress and anxiety, boosts stamina, normalizes blood sugar levels, protects against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, bolsters the immune system, and scavenges the reactive oxygen species in our body to reduce oxidative stress.

All these medicinal properties of Ashwagandha are possible due to the presence of various physiologically active compounds, including withanolides, withaferins, isopelletierine, anaferine, cuseohygrine, anahygrine, sitoindosides, and acylsterylglucosides.

Growing

Ashwagandha is a drought-tolerant plant that fairly thrives in dry soil after its establishment. Its seeds can be sown outdoors, after the departure of the first frost and or it can be started indoors in early spring, probably in March.

Ashwagandha likes to have full sun exposure and average water supply with moist soil until germination. After the germination, the Ashwagandha can grow on its own, rendering itself as a low maintenance plant.

The Ashwagandha seeds are sown 3/8’’ below the soil which is kept uniformly moist to support the sprouting. After around 10-20 days, the seeds sprout which further sends out a shoot that tears past the soil and grows healthily in full sun.

Its sword-like upright leaves soon take over its small branches but when the plant steps into the blooming and fertilization phase, these upright leaves humbly dry out to allow fruit formation.

Ashwagandha gives out its markedly modest and small flowers in April till July during which the flowers are either self-pollinated or open-pollinated by none other than bees and other stereotypical pollinating insects. The stigma receives the pollens which fertilize the ovary and the flower undergoes post-fertilization changes, leading to the development of orange or red-colored berries. These berries bear seeds that are utilized for the perpetuation of the lifecycle of Ashwagandha.

Harvesting

After a period of 6 months, Ashwagandha can be harvested. Its berries are harvested when the leaves begin to dry out whereas its roots can be harvested anytime; all the while making sure that the plant is at least 6 months mature.

The Ashwagandha berries are just plucked off of their nodes. The roots give some hard time and have proven to be a strenuous job. The whole plant has to be dug up all the while keeping the soil moist. After digging up, the required amount of roots is cut by garden shears and the plant is then settled again in its former spot.

The freshly harvested Ashwagandha roots and berries can be dried in the shade until the judgment of your senses affirms them as something hard. The dried berries are stored as such but the roots can be chopped or transformed into a fine powder to be stored in an airtight container.

Usage

The increasing popularity of Ashwagandha due to its medicinal properties have urged herbalists to transfuse its goodness in various dosage forms to extract its highly expensive benefits.

  • Tincture - Infuse dried Ashwagandha  in grain alcohol for 4 to 6 weeks. Strain the liquid and place it in a dark and dry place.
  • Tea - Dried Ashwagandha root powder is simmered in hot boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. The tea is either decanted or strained and consumed to help with hormonal imbalance.
  • Decoction - Dried Ashwagandha roots are boiled in water for 40 to 55 minutes to form the decoction.
  • Salve - Ashwagandha infused oil is merged with various other calming herbs infused oil and melted beeswax to form a relaxing salve.
  • Infused oil - Dried Ashwagandha roots are decocted and that decoction is further paired with sesame oil on low flame to form Ashwagandha infused oil.