Alternative Medicine Review 2004 (Jun); 9 (2): 211–214 ~ FULL TEXT
Withania somnifera, also known as ashwagandha, Indian ginseng, or winter cherry, has been an important herb in the Ayurvedic and indigenous medical systems for over 3000 years. Historically, the plant has been used as an aphrodisiac, liver tonic, anti-inflammatory agent, astringent, and more recently to treat bronchitis, asthma, ulcers, emaciation, insomnia, and senile dementia. Clinical trials and animal research support the use of ashwaganda for anxiety, cognitive and neurological disorders, inflammation, and Parkinson's disease. Ashwaganda's chemopreventive properties make it a potentially useful adjunct for patients undergoing radiation and chemotherapy. Ashwaganda is also used therapeutically as an adaptogen for patients with nervous exhaustion, insomnia, and debility due to stress, and as an immune stimulant in patients with low white blood cell counts.