Withania somnifera

Ashwagandha has been used traditionally for the past 4,000 years of in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka for promoting learning and memory retrieval. 

As an adaptogen, Ashwagandha supports the ability to cope with stress and thereby conserve energy, reportedly rejuvenating the endocrine and immune systems.

Also known as

Indian ginseng, poison gooseberry, or winter cherry

Clinical Studies:

Small study demonstrating significant decrease in anxiety levels and improvements in secondary quality of life measures were also observed:

Iranian researchers conducted a small trial to investigate its effects on symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). After 6 weeks, a significantly greater reduction in mean OCD symptom scores was observed in the treatment group compared to placebo.


Dosing information is limited. W. somnifera root powder has generally been used at daily dosages of 120 mg to 2 g in combination with other preparations.


Contraindications have not been identified.


Avoid if pregnant or lactating. Abortifacient properties have been reported for ashwagandha. Avoid use.


None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Limited clinical trials are available and case reports are lacking.


Acute toxicity of W. somnifera is modest; at reasonable doses, ashwagandha is nontoxic.

Scientific Family
  • Solanaceae (nightshade)

1. Withania somnifera (L.) USDA, NRCS. 2007. The PLANTS Database (, 8 April 2010). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.

2. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine: An Alternative Treatment for Anxiety: A Systematic Review of Human Trial Results Reported for the Ayurvedic Herb Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

3. European Scientific Journal: Impact of Ashwagandha on Mental Health Profile of Elderly Women

4. Phytomedicine: Anxiolytic-antidepressant activity of Withania somnific glycowithanolides: An Experimental Study.

5. Frontiers in Neuroscience: Critical Evaluation of Ayurvedic Plants for Stimulating Intrinsic Antioxidant Response.