AKA: Winter cherry, Withania somnifera.
Sometimes referred to as the "Indian ginseng," Ashwagandha is a member of the nightshade family, along with potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplants.
Effects: According to traditional Indian medicine, it is said to reduce stress and anxiety and to improve vitality, learning, and memory. It has been used to treat arthritis and help heal broken bones, and may inhibit cancer, as well. There have been few studies, but those conducted have yielded encouraging results: it enhanced mood and improved hemoglobin and blood plasma protein levels in a 1993 study, was shown to alleviate withdrawal symptoms in morphine addiction in a 1995 study, and showed positive results for patients with anxiety neurosis in a 1997 study.
Works synergistically with gotu kola, shatavari (Indian asparagus), and Siberian ginseng to relieve stress.
Precautions: It can cause mild gastrointestinal problems, but this can be prevented by taking it with meals. Exceeding the recommended dose is not advised, as it may contain some compounds that are harmful when taken in significant quantities. Herbal products from India may be contaminated with mold, insects, and animal feces.
Dosage: One to two cups of tea a day.
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