Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Withania somnifera (ashwagandha): a review.

Los Angeles College of Chiropractic (LACC), 16200 E Amber Valley Dr., Whittier, CA 90609-1166.
Alternative medicine review: a journal of clinical therapeutic (Impact Factor: 4.86). 09/2000; 5(4):334-46.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The objective of this paper is to review the literature regarding Withania somnifera (ashwagandha, WS) a commonly used herb in Ayurvedic medicine. Specifically, the literature was reviewed for articles pertaining to chemical properties, therapeutic benefits, and toxicity.
This review is in a narrative format and consists of all publications relevant to ashwagandha that were identified by the authors through a systematic search of major computerized medical databases; no statistical pooling of results or evaluation of the quality of the studies was performed due to the widely different methods employed by each study.
Studies indicate ashwagandha possesses anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antistress, antioxidant, immunomodulatory, hemopoietic, and rejuvenating properties. It also appears to exert a positive influence on the endocrine, cardiopulmonary, and central nervous systems. The mechanisms of action for these properties are not fully understood. Toxicity studies reveal that ashwagandha appears to be a safe compound.
Preliminary studies have found various constituents of ashwagandha exhibit a variety of therapeutic effects with little or no associated toxicity. These results are very encouraging and indicate this herb should be studied more extensively to confirm these results and reveal other potential therapeutic effects. Clinical trials using ashwagandha for a variety of conditions should also be conducted.

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    ABSTRACT: Excessive use of oestrogen or ethinyl oestradiol (EO, a semisynthetic 17b-oestradiol as highly potent oestrogen) can cause many detrimental effects, including cancer in humans as well as in animals. On the other hand, many herbal drugs are beneficial for the treatment of toxicity and cancer. Likewise, ProImmu and its plant-ingredients have been reported to possess immunomodulatory effect and restore the normal histoarchitecture of the damaged tissues. In the present study, the beneficial effects of ProImmu, and its two ingredients, viz., Tinospora cordifolia and Withania somnifera have been observed against EO altered haematological profiles in the female albino rats. The haematological study showed that EO (@ 250 μg/kg, orally, thrice a week) altered levels of haemoglobin (Hb), total leucocyte count (TLC) and differential leucocyte count (DLC-lymphocyte, monocyte, neutrophil and eosinophil) could be significantly normalized by ProImmu (@ 150 mg/kg, orally, daily for 8 weeks); however, the normalization of these parameters brought up by T. cordifolia (@ 250 mg/kg, orally, daily for 8 weeks) and W. somnifera (@ 250 mg/kg, orally, daily for 8 weeks) was found to be of lesser degree. ProImmu (@150 mg/kg, orally, daily for 12 weeks), T. cordifolia (@250 mg/kg, orally, daily for 12 weeks) and W. somnifera (@ 250 mg/kg, orally, daily for 12 weeks) also caused the normalcy of these parameters, but to less extent than observed on the 8 weeks. KEYWORDS: Ethinyl oestradiol (oestrogen), herbal drugs, haematological profiles, ProImmu, Tinospora cordifolia, Withania somnifera. INTRODUCTION Oestrogen has been stated to cause many detrimental effects both in humans and animals. The over doses of oestrogen may cause nausea, vomiting, anorexia, migraine, blurring of vision, mental depression, headache, asthma, endometriosis, fibroids, breast engorgement, increased vaginal secretion, oedema, cardiovascular and hepatic diseases, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, and many others in human beings
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract Objective: To assess existing reported human trials of Withania somnifera (WS; common name, ashwagandha) for the treatment of anxiety. Design: Systematic review of the literature, with searches conducted in PubMed, SCOPUS, CINAHL, and Google Scholar by a medical librarian. Additionally, the reference lists of studies identified in these databases were searched by a research assistant, and queries were conducted in the AYUSH Research Portal. Search terms included "ashwagandha," "Withania somnifera," and terms related to anxiety and stress. Inclusion criteria were human randomized controlled trials with a treatment arm that included WS as a remedy for anxiety or stress. The study team members applied inclusion criteria while screening the records by abstract review. Intervention: Treatment with any regimen of WS. Outcome measures: Number and results of studies identified in the review. Results: Sixty-two abstracts were screened; five human trials met inclusion criteria. Three studies compared several dosage levels of WS extract with placebos using versions of the Hamilton Anxiety Scale, with two demonstrating significant benefit of WS versus placebo, and the third demonstrating beneficial effects that approached but did not achieve significance (p=0.05). A fourth study compared naturopathic care with WS versus psychotherapy by using Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) scores as an outcome; BAI scores decreased by 56.5% in the WS group and decreased 30.5% for psychotherapy (p<0.0001). A fifth study measured changes in Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) scores in WS group versus placebo; there was a 44.0% reduction in PSS scores in the WS group and a 5.5% reduction in the placebo group (p<0.0001). All studies exhibited unclear or high risk of bias, and heterogenous design and reporting prevented the possibility of meta-analysis. Conclusions: All five studies concluded that WS intervention resulted in greater score improvements (significantly in most cases) than placebo in outcomes on anxiety or stress scales. Current evidence should be received with caution because of an assortment of study methods and cases of potential bias.
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