Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Ashwagandha
Withania somnifera
Solanaceae

The fruit is rich in saponins and can be used as a soap substitute[169, 192].

The leaves are an insect repellent[169].

  • Medicinal Use

    Ashwagandha is one of the most widespread tranquillisers used in India, where it holds a position of importance similar to ginseng in China[238]. It acts mainly on the reproductive and nervous systems, having a rejuvenative effect on the body, and is used to improve vitality and aid recovery after chronic illness[238, 254]. The plant is little known in the West[192].

    The whole plant, but especially the leaves and the root bark, are abortifacient, adaptogen, antibiotic, aphrodisiac, deobstruent, diuretic, narcotic, strongly sedative and tonic[169, 192, 238, 240]. Internally, it is used to tone the uterus after a miscarriage and also in treating post-partum difficulties[192]. It is also used to treat nervous exhaustion, debility, insomnia, wasting diseases, failure to thrive in children, impotence, infertility, multiple sclerosis etc[238]. Externally it has been applied as a poultice to boils, swellings and other painful parts[192, 240]. The root is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use[238]. Some caution is advised in the use of this plant since it is toxic[K].

    The fruit is diuretic[240].

    The seed is diuretic and hypnotic[240].

  • Edible Use

    The seeds are used to curdle plant milks in order to make vegetarian cheeses[183, 240].

  • Cautionary Notes

    The plant is toxic if eaten[238].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow early spring in a greenhouse. There is usually a high germination rate within 2 weeks. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle and plant them out after the last expected frost. Consider giving the plants some protection, such as a cloche, until they are established and growing away well.
A fairly easily grown plant, it requires a warm sheltered position in full sun and a well-drained moderately fertile soil[169, K]. Prefers a dry stony soil[238]. This species is not hardy in temperate climates but it can be grown as an annual, flowering and fruiting in its first year from seed[169].
Australia, E. Asia, Africa.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.