ArticlePDF Available

Anticancer activity of Withania somnifera dunal (Ashwagandha)

  • College of fishery science, jabalpur
  • Nanaji Deshmukh Veterinary Science University, Jabalpur, MP, India


Considerable research works have been done on Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) to evaluate its anticancer activity, and some of the works have provided very promising results. W. somnifera reduced the cancer cell proliferation and increased the overall survival time. It enhanced the effectiveness of radiation therapy. It also reduced the side effects of some chemotherapeutic agents, viz. Cyclophosphamide and Paclitaxel without interfering with the cancer-reducing actions of the drugs. Given its broad spectrum of cytotoxic and anticancer activity, W. somnifera presents itself as a novel therapy for cancer. However, there is a great need to derive the potent anticancer drug from this medicinal plant by conducting thorough research work.
Indian Drugs, 2009, 46(8): 603-609
Madhuri, Sharma1 and Pandey, Govind2*
1Senior Research Fellow of C.S.I.R. & Ph.D. Scholar, Department of Zoology & Biotechnology,
Model Science College, Jabalpur- 482001 (M.P.); 2Officer-In-Charge of Rinder Pest (Animal
Husbandry Department, Govt. of M.P.), Jabalpur
Division, Jabalpur
Considerable research works have been done on Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha)
to evaluate its anticancer activity, and some of the works have provided very promising
results. W. somnifera reduced the cancer cell proliferation and increased the overall
survival time. It enhanced the effectiveness of radiation therapy. It also reduced the side
effects of some chemotherapeutic agents, viz. cyclophosphamide and paclitaxel without
interfering with the cancer-reducing actions of the drugs. Given its broad spectrum of
cytotoxic and anticancer activity, W. somnifera presents itself as a novel therapy for
cancer. However, there is a great need to derive the potent anticancer drug from this
medicinal plant by conducting thorough research work.
Keywords: Withania somnifera, Withanolides, Anticancer activity
W. somnifera, also known as Ashwagandha, Indian ginseng, asgandh and winter cherry,
belongs to plant family Solanaceae. It grows in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Spain, parts of the
Middle-East Africa and Canary Islands. The plant is an erect undershrub that grows up to 1.5
meters tall. It has been an important herb in the Ayurvedic and indigenous medicine systems for
over 3000 years1-2. Various parts of the plant are traditionally used in the various diseases. Root
is traditionally used as aphrodisiac, liver tonic, antiinflammatory, astringent and antidepressant
and in impaired memory, neurasthenic, poor muscle tone and fever3. Western research supports
its polypharmaceutical use, confirming antioxidant, antiinflammatory, immunomodulating and
*Author for correspondence and reprint: Dr. Govind Pandey, 157/1, Badhaiyapura, North Milloniganj,
Jabalpur- 482002, M.P.; E-mail:;; -1-
antistress properties in the whole plant extract and several separate constituents4. Anxiolytic and
antidepressant actions of the glycowithanolides, isolated from the roots of W. somnifera, in rats
were assessed5. W. somnifera inhibited stress-induced gastric ulcer more effectively as compared
to the standard drug ranitidine6. It significantly inhibited haloperidol or reserpine-induced
catalepsy and provided hope for the treatment of Parkinson's disease7. It also possessed
antivenom8 and antiinflammatory activities9. It also exhibited antiangiogenic effect10. Its root is a
potential source of hypoglycaemic, diuretic and hypocholesterolemic drugs11. Methanol and
hexane extracts of leaves and roots showed potent antibacterial activity12. Its cardioprotective
effect has also been reported experimentally13. In animals, W. somnifera acts as an
anticonvulsant in acute and chronic seizure models14. The glycoprotein of W. somnifera has
antifungal activity15. It also possesses adaptogenic, cardiotropic and anticoagulant properties16.
Leaf, root and root bark of W. somnifera possessed antimalarial activity17. Withaferin A, a major
chemical constituent of W. somnifera, possesses antiarthritic, antimicrobial, antimitotic and
viricide activity18.
Besides above properties, W. somnifera has also been reported to possess antitumour/
anticancer property. The present article explores out the research literatures pertaining to
anticancer activity of W. somnifera.
The majority of the phytoconstituents of W. somnifera are withanolides (steroidal lactones
with ergostane skeleton) and alkaloids. These include withanone, withaferin A, and several other
withanolides and withasonidienone19. Much of the pharmacological activity of W. somnifera has
been attributed to two main withanolides, withaferin A and withanolide D20. Apart from these
contents, this plant also contains chemical constituents like withaniol, acylsteryl glucosides,
starch, reducing sugar, hantreacotane, ducitol, a variety of amino acids including aspartic acid,
proline, tyrosine, alanine, glycine, glutamic acid, cystine, tryptophan and high amount of iron3,21.
Most of these compounds have been found in both aqueous and alcoholic (ethanol) extracts of W.
somnifera root. The phytochemicals like alkaloids, reducing sugars, resins, saponins, fixed oils,
anthraquinones, proteins and amino acids have been present in the aqueous and alcoholic
extracts, while glycosides have been found in the alcoholic extract (AlE) of W. somnifera root22.
The AlE of whole plant of W. somnifera (200 mg/kg, orally daily for seven months) reduced
the tumour incidence significantly against urethane (125 mg/kg biweekly for seven months)-
induced lung adenomas in adult male albino mice. The histological appearance of the lungs of
animals protected by W. somnifera was similar to those observed in the lungs of control
animals23. This drug has been found to scavenge the reactive molecules leading to
antimutagenesis and anticarcinogenesis24. The AlE of the root of W. somnifera was injected
intraperitonially (ip) at daily doses of 200 to 1000 mg/kg for 15 days starting from 24 hr after
intradermal inoculation of 5×10(5) cells of Sarcoma 180 (S 180) in Balb/c mice. Cumulative
doses of 7.5 to 10 g, ip at daily doses of 500 or 750 mg/kg seems to produce a good response in
this tumour25. The antitumour effect of root extract of W. somnifera and its modification by heat
were studied in vivo on S 180 tumour grown on the dorsum of adult Balb/c mouse26. The AlE of
the root of this plant produced in vivo growth inhibitory effect on transplantable mouse tumour, S
18027. Further, the AlE of the dried root of this plant as well as its active component withaferin A
showed significant antitumour effect in experimental tumours in vivo28. The author also observed
the anticancer effect of withaferin A against Ehrlich ascites carcinoma (EAC) in vivo29. In
another study, withaferin A was found to inhibit tumour growth and increased tumour free
survival in a dose-depended manner30.
W. somnifera may be used as an adjuvant during cancer chemotherapy for prevention of
bone marrow depression associated with anticancer drugs31. Administration of the root extract
(20 mg/dose/animal, ip) of W. somnifera was found to inhibit the 20-methylcholanthrene induced
sarcoma in mice and increase the life span of tumour bearing animals32. Administration of this
extract also reduced the skin carcinogenesis induced by dimethyl benzanthracene (DMBA) and
croton oil. W. somnifera treated animals showed increased glutathione (GSH), superoxide
dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GPX) and catalase (CAT) in the liver and skin33.
Methanol extracts of W. somnifera root at a dose of 65 μg/ml or 265 μg/ml were able to down-
regulate the expression of p34cdc2, a cell-cycle regulatory protein. This protein is expressed
during cellular proliferation, and down regulation arrests the cell cycle in the G2/M transition
phase34. This plant showed a significant increase in cytotoxic T lymphocyte production both in
vivo as well as in vitro and it may reduce tumour growth35. W. somnifera (root extract) treated
splenocytes along with the mitogen lipopolysaccharide (LPS) could stimulate the lymphocyte
proliferation six times more than the normal. The natural killer (NK) cell activity was enhanced
significantly in both the normal and tumour bearing animals36. Oral treatment with
hydroalcoholic extract (HAE) of W. somnifera root at the dose of 400 mg/kg (one week before
injecting 20-methylcholanthrene and continued until 15 weeks thereafter) significantly reduced
the tumour incidence, tumour volume and enhanced the survival of the mice, compared with 20-
methylcholanthrene injected mice bearing with fibrosarcoma37.
The chemopreventive effect was demonstrated in a study of HAE of W. somnifera root on
DMBA induced skin cancer in mice. A significant decrease in incidence and average number of
skin lesions was noticed. Additionally, levels of reduced GSH, SOD, CAT and GPX in exposed
tissue returned to near normal values following administration of the extract. The
chemopreventive activity is thought to be due in part to antioxidant/ free radical scavenging
activity of the extract38. W. somnifera root possessed anticancer activity in swiss albino mice
bearing EAC and S 180 tumours22. Withaferin A from W. somnifera was most effective at
delaying tumour growth and doubling time in fibrosarcoma39. On in vitro study, withanolides
inhibited the growth in human breast (MCF-7), central nervous system (SF-268), lung (NCL-
H460) and colon (HCT-116) cancer cell lines comparable to doxorubicin. Withaferin A more
effectively inhibited the growth of breast and colon cancer cell lines than did doxorubicin. These
results suggest that the extracts of W. somnifera root may prevent or inhibit tumour growth in
cancer patients, and suggest a potential for development of new chemotherapeutic agents40. It has
been reported that AlE of W. somnifera is effective against different prostate cancer cell lines of
various metastatic potential41. Both in vivo and in vitro research attest to the cytotoxic and
antitumour potential of W. somnifera. The osteogenic sarcoma and breast carcinoma cell lines
were treated with 3-24 μg/ml aqueous leaf powder extract of W. somnifera. These cancers
exposed to high oxidative stress via a high-glucose medium or exposure to H2O2 were more
susceptible to oxidative damage after treatment with W. somnifera extract, suggesting that drug
has antiproliferative effect on tumour cells42.
A significant increase in the life span and a decrease in the cancer cell number and tumour
weight were noted in the tumour-induced mice after treatment with AlE of W. somnifera root.
The haematological parameters were also corrected. These observations are suggestive of the
protective effect of W. somnifera in Dalton's Ascitic Lymphoma43. Pretreatment with the animals
with 1-oxo-5 beta, 6 beta-epoxy-witha-2-enolide (20 mg/kg), isolated from the roots of W.
somnifera, prior to exposing the animals to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, prevents the incidence of
skin carcinoma44. Pretreatment of W. somnifera root powder extract (20 mg/dose/animal/24 hr, ip
for 10 days) or a constituent of W. somnifera, withanolide D (500 μg/dose/animal/24 hr, ip for 10
days) resulted in a significant reduction in tumour (melanoma) and increase in life span of
mice45. W. somnifera inhibited benzo(a)pyrene induced fore-stomuch papillomagenesis, showing
up to 60% and 92% inhibition in tumour incidence and multiplicity, respectively. Similarly, W.
somnifera inhibited the DMBA induced skin papillomagenesis, showing up to 45% and 71%
inhibition in tumour incidence and multiplicity46. The benzo(a)pyrene induced cancer animals
were treated with W. somnifera extract for 30 days, resulting into significant alteration of the
levels of immunocompetent cells, immune complexes and immunoglobulins47. It was also
observed that the combination chemotherapy of W. somnifera along with paclitaxel is a
promising chemotherapeutic agent against lung cancer induced by benzo(a)pyrene in swiss
albino mice48. The antiproliferative activity was screened against human laryngeal carcinoma
(Hep2) cells by microculture tetrazolium assay. The effect was confirmed in vivo by mouse
sponge implantation method. The experiments suggest that the roots of W. somnifera possess cell
cycle disruption and antiangiogenic activity, which may be a mediator for its anticancer action49.
Withanolides inhibited the cyclooxygenase enzymes, lipid peroxidation and proliferation of
tumour cells. It suppressed NF-kappaB (NF-kB) activation induced by a variety of inflammatory
and carcinogenic agents including tumour necrosis factor (TNF), interleukin-1beta, doxorubicin
and cigarette smoke condensate. Suppression was not cell type specific, as both inducible and
constitutive NF-kB activation were blocked by withanolides. The suppression occurred through
the inhibition of inhibitory subunit of I-kappaB (I-kB) alpha kinase activation, I-kB alpha
phosphorylation, I-kB alpha degradation, p65 phosphorylation and subsequent p65 nuclear
translocation. Overall, withanolides inhibit the activation of NF-kB and NF-kB-regulated gene
expression, which may explain the ability of withanolides to enhance apoptosis and inhibit
invasion and osteoclastogenesis50. The aqueous extract of W. somnifera had inhibitory effect on
Chinese hamster ovary cell lines51. Withaferin A induced the prostate apoptosis responses-4 in
androgen-refractory prostate cancer cells, showing that W. somnifera exhibits the cytotoxic effect
against variety of cancer cell lines52. W. somnifera primarily induced the oxidative stress in
human leukemia HL60 cell and in several other cancer cell lines53. It was further pointed that the
withaferin A inhibited DNA binding of NF-kB and caused nuclear cleavage of P65/Rel by
activated caspase-3. N acetyl-cysteine rescued all these events suggesting thereby a pro-oxidant
effect of Withaferin A. Apart from these, the anticancer activity of W. somnifera has also been
mentioned by several other workers20,54-62.
The anticancer activity of W. somnifera is related to its multiple functions. W. somnifera
may increase the overall effectiveness of cancer treatment. Its anticancer activity is probably due
to the action of its main constituents, viz. withaferin A (which inhibits RNA and protein
production) and withanolide D (which inhibits RNA production). The RNA and protein
inhibition may lead to increased cancer cell death1. W. somnifera exhibits both antioxidant and
pro-oxidant activities. Tumour-bearing animals treated with this drug showed increased GSH,
SOD, GPX and CAT in the liver and skin33,46. These effects could clearly repair oxidative
damage caused by tumour growth and inflammation, thus reducing the likelihood of disease
progression. This antioxidant activity is enhanced by the potential of W. somnifera to up-regulate
phase II liver enzymes. W. somnifera may also mitigate unregulated cell growth via the potent
tumour suppressor gene p53, which regulates cell cycle proliferation44. W. somnifera was
identified via mass spectrometry as the most potent constituent of W. somnifera to inhibit tumour
TNF-α induced NF-kB activation, inhibiting angiogenesis at a dose of 7 μg/kg/day. The NF-kB
may play a key role in the antitumour action of W. somnifera since it is activated by carcinogens,
tumour promoters and inflammatory agents. This implicates NF-kB suppression as one
mechanism by which W. somnifera could decrease inflammation, enhance cytotoxicity and
apoptosis of tumour cells, and decrease metastasis. W. somnifera also exerts a beneficial effect
on the immune system, which may explain some of its antitumour activity10,50. It has been
reported36 that the NK cell activity is significantly enhanced by W. somnifera during
tumorigenesis. The strong immune-stimulating effect of W. somnifera elicits from macrophages
and NK cells can increase tumour cell surveillance and control.
W. somnifera (mainly its root) has been reported to possess several medicinal properties
such as antioxidant, immunomodulatary, anticonvulsant, neuroprotective, radiosenstising,
hypoglycaemic, hypolipidaemic, antiinflammatory, antitumour/anticancer etc. However, more
experimental and clinical researches should be conducted to support its therapeutic use. In
conclusion, W. somnifera reduces the cancer cell proliferation while increasing overall survival
time. Given its broad spectrum of cytotoxic and anticancer activity, W. somnifera presents itself
as a novel therapy for cancer.
1. Schauss A.G., Milholland R.B.R. and Munson S. Therapeutic applications of Withania
somnifera (Ashwagandha)- A popular Ayurvedic botanical medicine. Natural Medicine J.,
1998; 1: 16-19.
2. Weiner M.A. and Weiner J. Ashwagandha (India ginseng), Herbs that Heal, Quantum Books,
Mill Valley, C.A., 1994; 70-72.
3. Jha N.K. Withania somnifera: Ashwagandha. Phytopharm., 2007; 8: 3-35.
4. Mishra L.C., Singh B.B. and Dagenais S. Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Withania
somnifera (ashwagandha): A review. Altern. Med. Rev., 2000; 5: 334-46.
5. Bhattacharya S.K., Bhattacharya A., Sairam A. and Ghosal A. Anxiolytic-antidepressant
activity of W. somnifera withanolides: An experimental study. Phytomed., 2000; 7: 463-69.
6. Bhatnagar M., Sisodia S.S. and Bhatnagar R. Antiulcer and antioxidant activity of Asparagus
racemosus Willd. and W. somnifera Dunal in rats. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci., 2005; 1056: 261-78.
7. Kumar A. and Kulkarni S.K. Effect of BR-16A (Mentat), a polyherbal formulation on drug-
induced catalepsy in mice. Indian J. Exp. Biol., 2006; 44: 45-48.
8. Lizano S., Domont G. and Perales J. Natural phospholipase A (2) myotoxin inhibitor proteins
from snakes, mammals and plants. Toxicon., 2003; 42: 963-74.
9. Anbalagan K. and Sadique J. Role of prostaglandins in acute phase proteins in inflammation.
Biochem. Med., 1984; 31: 236-45.
10. Mohan R., Hammers H.J., Bargagna M.P., Zhan X.H., Herbstritt C.J., Ruiz A., Zhang L.,
Hanson A.D., Cornner B.P., Rougas J. and Pribluda V.S. Withaferin A is a potent inhibitor of
angiogenesis. Angiogenesis, 2004; 7: 115-22.
11. Andallu B. and Radhika B. Hypoglycemic, diuretic and hypocholesterolemic effect of winter
cherry (Withania somnifera Dunal) root. Indian J. Exp. Biol., 2000; 38: 607-09.
12. Arora S., Dhillon S., Rani G. and Nagapal A. The in vitro antibacterial/ synergistic activities
of Withania somnifera extracts. Fitoterapia, 2004; 75: 385-88.
13. Mohanty I., Arya D.S., Dinda A., Talwar K.K., Joshi S. and Gupta S.K. Mechanisms of
cardioprotective effect of Withania somnifera in experimentally induced myocardial
infarction. Basic Clin. Pharmacol. Toxicol., 2004; 94: 184-90.
14. Kulkarni S.K., George B. and Mathur R. Neuroprotection by Withania ashwagandha root
extract against lithium-pilocarpine-induced seizures. Indian Drugs, 1998; 35: 208-15.
15. Girish K.S., Machiah K.D., Ushanandini S., Harish Kumar K., Nagaraja S., Govindappa M.,
Vedavathi M. and Kemparaju K. Antimicrobial properties of a nontoxic glycoprotein (WSG)
from Withania somnifera (ashwagandha). J. Basic Microbiol., 2006; 46: 365-74.
16. Dhuley J.N. Adaptogenic and cardioprotective action of ashwagandha in rats and frogs. J.
Ethnopharmacol., 2007; 70: 57-63.
17. Dikasso D., Makonnen E., Debella A., Abebe D., Urga K., Makonnen W., Melaku D., Kassa
M. and Gupta M. Antimalarial activity of Withania somnifera L. Dunal extract in mice. Pak.
J. Pharm. Sci., 2007; 20: 231-35.
18. Lindner S. Withania somnifera. Australian J. Medical Herbalism, 1996; 8: 78-82.
19. I.D.M.A. Indian Herbal Pharmacopoeia. Mumbai, 2002.
20. Gupta G.L. and Rana A.C. Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha): A Review. Pharmacognosy
Review, 2007; 1: 129-36.
21. Prajapati N.D., Purohit S.S., Sharma A.K. and Kumar T. A Hand Book of Medicinal Plants,
1st Edition, Agrobios, India, 2003.
22. Somkuwar A.P. Studies on anticancer effects of Ocimum sanctum and Withania somnifera on
experimentally induced cancer in mice. Ph.D. thesis, J.N.K.V.V., Jabalpur, M.P., 2003.
23. Singh N., Singh S.P. and Nath R. Prevention of urethane-induced lung adenomas by
Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal in albino mice. Int. J. Crude Drug Res., 1986; 24: 90-100.
24. De Flora S. and Ramel C. Mechanism of inhibitors of mutagenesis and carcinogenesis:
Classification and overview. Mutat. Res., 1998; 269: 269-78.
25. Uma Devi P., Sharada A.C., Solomon F.E. and Kamath M.S. In vivo growth inhibitory
effects of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha ) on a transplantable mouse tumor, Sarcoma
180. Cancer Lett., 1992; 30: 169-72.
26. Uma Devi P., Sharada A.C. and Solomon F.E. Antitumour and radiosensitizing effects of
W. somnifera (Ashwagandha) on a transplantable mouse tumor, Sarcoma 180. Indian J. Exp.
Biol., 1993; 31: 607-11.
27. Uma Devi P., Sharada A.C. and Solomon F.E. In vivo growth inhibitory and radiosensitizing
effects of withaferin A on mouse Ehrlich ascites carcinoma. Cancer Lett., 1995; 95: 189-93.
28. Uma Devi P. W. somnifera Dunal (Ashwagandha), potential plant source of a promising drug
for cancer chemotherapy and radiosensitization. Indian J. Exp. Biol., 1996; 34: 927-32.
29. Uma Devi P., Kamath R.U. and Rao B.S. Radiosensitizing effects of a mouse melanoma by
withaferin A, in vivo studies. Indian J. Exp. Biol., 2000; 38: 432-37.
30. Sharada A.C., Solomon F.E., Devi Uma P., Udupa N. and Srinivasan K.K. Antitumour and
radiosensitizing effects of withaferin A on mouse Ehrlich ascites carcinoma in vivo. Acta
Oncol., 1996; 35: 95-100.
31. Gupta Y.K., Sharma S.S., Rai K. and Katiyar C.K. Reversal of paclitaxel induced
neutropenia by Withania somnifera in mice. Indian J. Physiol. Pharmacol., 2001; 45: 253-57.
32. Davis L. and Kuttan G. Effect of Withania somnifera on 20-methylcholanthrene induced
Fibrosarcoma. J. Exp. Clin. Cancer Res., 2000; 19: 165-67.
33. Davis L and Kuttan G. Effect of Withania somnifera on DMBA induced carcinogenesis. J.
Ethnopharmacol., 2001; 75: 165-68.
34. Singh D.D., Dey C.S. and Bhutani K.K. Downregulation of p34cdc2 expression with
aqueous fraction from Withania somnifera for a possible molecular mechanism of antitumor
and other pharmacological effects. Phytomedicine, 2001; 8: 492-94.
35. Davis L. and Kuttan G. Effect of W. somnifera on CTL activity. J. Exp. Clin. Cancer Res.,
2002; 21: 115-18.
36. Davis L. and Kuttan G. Effect of Withania somnifera on cell mediated immune responses in
mice. J. Exp. Clin. Cancer Res., 2002; 21: 585-90.
37. Prakash J, Gupta S.K., Kochupillai V., Singh N., Gupta Y.K. and Joshi S. Chemotherapy
activity of Withania somnifera in experimentally induced fibrosarcoma tumours in Swiss
albino mice. Phytother. Res., 2001; 15: 240-44.
38. Prakash J., Gupta S.K. and Dinda A.K. Withania somnifera root extract prevents DMBA-
induced squamous cell carcinoma of skin in swiss albino mice. Nutr. Cancer, 2002; 42:91-97.
39. Uma Devi P. and Kamath R. Radiosensitizing effect of withaferin A combined with
hyperthermia on mouse fibrosarcoma and melanoma. J. Radiat. Res. (Tokyo), 2003; 44: 1.
40. Jayaprakasam B., Zhang Y., Seeram Y.N. and Nair M. Growth inhibition of tumor cell lines
by withanolides from Withania somnifera leaves. Life Sci., 2003; 74: 125-32.
41. Rao K.V.K., Schwartz S.A., Nair H.K., Aalinkeel R., Mahajan S., Chawda R. and Nair
M.P.N. Plant derived product as a source of cellular growth inhibitory phytochemical on PC-
3, DU-145 and LNCa P prostate cancer cell lines. Current Science, 2004; 87: 1585-88.
42. Kaur K., Rani G., Widodo N., Nagpal A., Taira K., Kaul S.C. and Wadhwa R. Evaluation of
the antiproliferative and antioxidant activities of leaf extract from in vivo and in vitro raised
Ashwagandha. Food Chem. Toxicol., 2004; 42: 2015-20.
43. Christina A.J., Joseph D.G., Packialakshmi M., Kothai R., Robert S.J., Chidambaranathan
N. and Ramasamy M. Anticarcinogenic activity of Withania somnifera Dunal against
Dalton's ascitic lymphoma. J. Ethnopharmacol., 2004; 93: 359-61.
44. Mathur S., Kaur P., Sharma M., Katyal A., Singh B., Tiwari M. and Chandra R. The
treatment of skin carcinoma induced by UV B radiation, using 1-oxo-5 beta, 6 beta-epoxy-
witha-2-enolide isolated from the roots of Withania somnifera, in a rat model.
Phytomedicine, 2004; 11: 452-60.
45. Leyon P.V. and Kuttan G. Effect of Withania somnifera on B16F-10 melanoma induced
metastasis in mice. Phytother. Res., 2004; 18: 118-22.
46. Padmavathi B., Rath P.C., Rao A.R. and Singh R.P. Roots of W. somnifera inhibit fore-
stomach and skin carcinogenesis in mice. Evid Based Comple. Altern. Med., 2005; 2:99-105.
47. Senthilnathan P., Padmavathi R., Mangesh V. and Sakthisekaran D. Modulation of TCA
cycle enzymes and electron transport chain system in experimental lung cancer. Life Sci.,
2006; 78: 1010-14.
48. Senthilnathan P., Padmavathi R., Banu S.M. and Sakthisekaran D. Enhancement of antitumor
effect of paclitaxel in combination with immunomodulatory Withania somnifera on
benzo(a)pyrene induced experimental lung cancer. Chem. Biol. Interact., 2006; 159: 180-85.
49. Mathur R., Gupta S.K., Singh N., Mathur S., Kochupillai V. and Velpandian T. Evaluation
of the effect of Withania somnifera root extracts on cell cycle and angiogenesis. J.
Ethnopharmacol., 2006; 105: 336-41.
50. Ichikawa H., Takada Y., Shishodia S., Jayaprakasam B., Nair M.G. and Aggarwal B.B.
Withanolides potentiate apoptosis, inhibit invasion, and abolish osteoclastogenesis through
suppression of nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) activation and NFkappaB-regulated gene
expression. Mol. Cancer Ther., 2006; 5: 1434-45.
51. Sumanthran V.N., Boddul S., Koppikar S.J., Dalvi M., Wele A., Gaire V. and Wagh U.V.
Differential growth inhibitory effects of W. somnifera root and E. officinalis fruit on CHO
cells. Phytother. Res., 2007; 21: 496-99.
52. Srinivasan S., Ranga R.S., Burikhanov R., Han S.S. and Chendil D. Par-4-dependent
apoptosis by the dietary compound withaferin A in prostate cancer cells. Cancer Res., 2007;
67: 246-53.
53. Malik F., Kumar A., Bhushn S., Khan S., Bhatia A., Suri K.A., Quzi G.N. and Singh J.
Reactive oxygen species generation and mitochondrial dysfunction in the apoptosis cell death
of human myeloid leukemia HL-60 cell by a dietary compound withaferin A with
concomitant protection by N-acetyl cysteine. Apoptosis, 2007; 12: 2115-33. 55.
54. Kaur Kamaljit, Widodo N., Nagpal A., Kaul S.C. and Wadhwa R. Sensitization of human
cancer cells to anti-cancer drugs by leaf extract of ashwagandha (lash). Tissue Culture
Research Communications, 2007; 26 (4): 193-99.
55. Kulkarni A. A ray of hope for cancer patients, Proceeding of International Seminar on
Holistic Management of Cancer & Ayurveda Education (Series No. 64), 1998; 5-11.
56. Madhuri S. and Pandey Govind P. Efficacy of ProImmu on oestrogen induced uterine
damage in rat. International J. Green Pharmacy, 2007; 2(1): 23-25.
57. Madhuri, S. and Pandey Govind. Some dietary agricultural plants with anticancer properties,
Plant Archives., 2008; 8(1): 13-16.
58. Pandey G. and Madhuri S. Medicinal plants: Better remedy for neoplasm. Indian Drugs,
2006a; 43: 869-74.
59. Pandey Govind and Madhuri S. Autochthonous herbal products in the treatment of cancer.
Phytomedica, 2006b; 7: 99-104.
60. Sheena I.P., Singh U.V., Kamnath R.U. and Udupa N. Niosomal withaferin A with better
antitumour efficacy. Indian J. Pharmaceutical Sci., 1997; 60: 45-48.
61. Winters M. Ancient medicine, modern use: Withania somnifera and its potential role in
integrative oncology. Altern. Med. Rev., 2006; 11: 269-77.
62. Widodo N., Kaur K., Shrestha B.G., Takagi Y., Ishii T., Wadhwa R. and Kaul S.C. Selective
killing of cancer cell by leaf extract of Ashwagandha: Identification of a tumor inhibitory factor
and the first molecular insights to its effect. Clinical Cancer Res., 2007; 13: 2298-2306.
... The root of W. somnifera (an ingredient of ProImmu) exhibited antioxidant, immunomodulatary and anticancer properties. It reduced the cancer cell proliferation and increased overall survival time (Madhuri and Pandey, 2009). The immunomodulatory effects of W. somnifera and T. cordifolia were observed by Thatte and Dahanukar (1989). ...
Full-text available
The present study was conducted to evaluate the anticancer effect of ProImmu, a herbal drug on ethinyl oestradiol (EO, an oestrogen) induced uterine cancer in albino rats. Rats of groups 2 to 5 were administered with EO @ 750 μg/kg, orally, weekly for 24 weeks. However, the rats of group 1 (normal) were given normal saline alone. ProImmu was administered @ 500 mg/kg, orally, daily for 4, 8 and 12 weeks after 20, 16 and 12 weeks of the administration of EO in groups 3, 4 and 5, respectively. The normal activities of serum transaminases, viz., serum glutamate oxaloacetate transaminase (SGOT) and serum glutamate pyruvate transaminase (SGPT) estimated in group 1 were significantly (P<0.05) increased by EO in group 2, which decreased significantly after treatment with ProImmu in groups 3 to 5 and returned to normal in group 5. The uterine tissues damaged by EO in group 2 revealed fibroblastic bundles as collagens, focal hyperplasia of endometrial lining and other cancerous changes such as hyperchromasia, enlargement of nuclei, anisokaryosis, anisocytosis and new angiogenesis. On the contrary, the uterine tissues of rats administered with ProImmu and EO both showed the increasing order of regeneration and normalization consequently after 4, 8 and 12 weeks of ProImmu treatment. The results suggest that ProImmu possess the anticancer effect, which may be due to immunostimulatory, antioxidant, phagocytic and other tissue protective activities of ProImmu or its plant-ingredients.
... Ashwagandhanolide, a new dimeric withanolide, isolated from Withania somnifera, inhibits growth & spread in cancers of breast, stomach, colon, lung and central nervous system. Withania somnifera also possesses immunoenhancing, haemopoietic and neuroprotective properties and reduces side effects of radiotherapy &chemotherapy [Madhuri et al., 2009]. ...
... Given its broad spectrum of cytotoxic and anticancer activity, W. somnifera presents itself as a novel therapy for cancer. W. somnifera root also possesses other medicinal properties like haemopoietic, neuroprotective, anticonvulsant, hypoglycaemic and hypolipidaemic properties 2,7,17 . ...
Full-text available
A great deal of pharmaceutical research has considerably improved the quality of herbal drugs used against various types of cancer. With the advanced knowledge of molecular science and the refinement in isolation and structure elucidation techniques, we are in a much better position now to identify various anticancer herbs. Scientists all over the world are concentrating on the use of herbs to boost immune system of the body against cancer. Scientists have contributed for a number of years to identify hundreds of anticancer herbs, and developed various herbal formulations from their active principles that inhibit growth and spread of cancer without any side effect. Such herbs possess anticancer, immunoenhancing, antiangiogenesis, antioxidant and antimutagenic properties. They inhibit growth and spread of cancer by modulating the activity of hormones, enzymes and other biological factors. The therapeutic effect of these herbs is executed by the complex synergistic interaction among their various active principles. Some important anticancer herbs have been discussed here. INTRODUCTION A large number of medicinal plants act as anticancer herbs in experimental and/or clinical cancers/tumours of various organs. Some of those cancers are sarcoma, leukaemia, lymphoma and carcinoma
Full-text available
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in developed and developing countries. It may be caused due to incorrect diet, genetic predisposition or environmental factors. At least 35% of all cancers worldwide are caused by incorrect diet. The plant kingdom has a great place in the treatment of diseases with no ill effect. Numerous plant products are now used for the remedy of cancer. According to WHO estimates, more than 80% people in developing countries depend on traditional medicine for their primary health needs. Consumption of large amount of vegetables and fruits can prevent the development of cancer. Several natural products are available as chemoprotective agents against various types of cancer. These chemoprotective agents are present in fruits, vegetables, plant extracts, herbs, microbes and marine organisms. A host of natural product constituents could be responsible for the protective effect against cancer. Although the mechanism of the protective effect is unclear, nevertheless, the consumption of natural products lowers the incidence of cancer. A major group of these products are the powerful antioxidants, others are phenolic in nature and the remainder includes reactive groups. This article emphasizes many anticancer natural products obtained from plant, microbe and marine sources, which possess potent anticancer activity.
Full-text available
Chemoprevention has been acknowledged as an important practical strategy for the management of cancer. Many naturally occurring substances present in the human diet have been identified as potential chemopreventive agents. Accordingly, in this study we have tested the effect of 13 plant-derived extracts which are in common use either as dietary supplements or traditional medicine for the growth-inhibitory effects on prostate cancer cell lines. First screening showed that Withania somnifera, Momordica charantia, Camellia sinensis (I & II), Curcuma longa and Polygonum cuspidatum are effective on highly metastatic PC-3M prostate cancer cell line. Second screening for selection of the most effective agent at narrow range lower concentrations showed that W. somnifera, C. longa and P. cuspidatum are most effective against different prostate cancer cell lines of varying metastatic potential and showed only a moderate effect on BG-9 normal skin fibroblasts. This observation suggests that these three agents have good potential for further studies against prostate cancer cell lines.
Full-text available
The curative effect of primary stage of cancer is enhanced by combining the dietary supplementation (by agriculture foods) of metabolic deficiency with a simultaneous specific stimulation of the immunity of patients. This combined biological, agricultural and immunological therapy has cured hundreds of cancer patients and experimental animals in randomized studies over 30 years. These plants may promote host resistance against infection by re-stabilizing body equilibrium and conditioning the body tissue. The present article aims to put the knowledge about some dietary agricultural plants and their products, which possess versatile anticancer and immunomodulatory properties. They are commonly consumed in our diet as food matters, and are also helpful for the livelihood of animals. Some dietary agricultural plants which have been reported to possess anticancer properties against various types of malignant (cancer) and benign tumours are : Allium cepa (Piyaz), Allium cepa var. aggregatum (Shallot). Allium sativum (Lasun), Brassica campestris (Sarson), Brassica oleracea var. botrytis (Phoolgobhi), Brassica oleracea var. cupitata (Pattagobhi), Brassica rapa (Shaljam), Citrus limon (Baranibu), Curcuma longa (Haldi). Emblica officinalis (Amla), Glycine javanica (Soybean), Lycopersicon esculentum (Tamatar), Momordica charantia (Karela), Swertia chirata (Chirayita), Trigonella foenumgraecum (Methi), Triticum aestivum (Gehun) and Zingiber officinale (Adrak). Some other food plants having anticancer activity include Amorphophallus companulatus (Suran), Avena sativa (Oat), Cajanus cajan (Arhar), Hordeum vulgare (Jau), Lens culinaris (Masur), Mentha arvensis (Podina) and Zea mays (Makka).
Full-text available
For the treatment of neoplasm all possible measures are being tried and still world wide search is going on to explore the antineoplastic agents from various sources. Since the allopathic system of medicine (chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, etc.) may cause several untoward effects on the normal host tissues, the indigenous system of medicine (medicinal or herbal plants) has become popular throughout the world also in the field of oncology. The medicinal plants play a major role in the life of human and animals. These serve not only as a medicinal source, but also maintain the health and vitality of individuals, and may cure various diseases including cancer without causing any toxicity. This review provides knowledge about many medicinal plants which have been proven experimentally/clinically for the treatment of various types of neoplasm.
Full-text available
Cancer is considered to be an uncontrolled growth, which is caused by a complex, poorly understood, interplay of genetic and environmental factors. Being chronic in nature it is difficult to cure cancer as the cells proliferate to their maximum till it shows clinical symptoms. Current researches are directed towards discovery of drugs, which specifically interfere with the growth of the cancer cells. Recent pharmacological researches revolve round the urgency to evolve suitable chemotherapeutic agents for the treatment of cancer without having toxic effects on the normal cells. Consequently, a number of anticancer drugs have been evolved in recent past to be employed for cancer chemotherapy. However, chemotherapy exhibits severe toxicity to the normal tissue as well. Hence there is a definite need to find alternate drugs that are active at non-toxic dose. Traditional Indian medicine has many natural (autochthonous) herbal preparations with versatile medicinal properties that deserve detailed research for their drug development. This led to chemical and pharmacological investigations of the plants, and to undertake general biological screening programs of plants not only in India but also all over the world. As the synthetic drugs caused several side effects, the plant-based medicines (autochthonous or indigenous herbal preparations) have become popular throughout the world now a days. The contribution of higher medicinal plants in discovery of new drugs has been enormous in terms of value and activity for treating diseases like cancer, hypertension and several other ailments.
The anticonvulsant actions of Withania somnifera (W.s) root extract (known to have GABA mimetic activity) have been reported earlier. The present study investigated the anticonvulsive profile of W.s in lithiumpilocarpine model of status epilepticus (SE) in rats. Sequential treatment of rats with low dose of lithium (3meq/kg, i.p.) followed 21 h later by pilocarpine (30 mg/kg, s.c.) resulted in SE. Motor limbic seizures occured in all the control rats followed by mortality within 48 h. Acute treatment with the root extract of W.s (100 mg/kg i.p.) prolonged the latency to forelimb clonus with rearing (F.C.+R) but failed to protect against mortality. Rats chronically administered with W.s (100, 200 mg x 7d) when subjected to lithium- pilocarpine challenge showed a reduced mortality rate as compared to the controls but the onset of F.C+R remained the same as with acute pretreatment of W.s root extract. Hippocampal and cortical EEG recordings were used to monitor the in vivo modulation by W.s root extract, phenytoin and clonazepam in the above model. Electrophysiological data further support the behavioural findings as the root extract brought about a parallel change in seizure activity as paroxysmal spike activity appeared only from the 60th min record. Moreover, the seizure activity seemed to subside by the 4th hour in comparison to the control. Phenytoin (50, 100 mg/kg, i.p.) dose dependently offered neuroprotection. Clonazepam (1 mg/kg, i.p.) pretreated rats behaved normally after pilocarpine challenge and did not show paroxysmal spike activity in the EEG, with the cortical and hippocampal amplitude remaining more or less near the basal value.
Withaferin A was entrapped in niosomes. The release of the drug from the niosome was slower compared to plain withaferin A dispersed in phosphate buffered saline. The mean survival time (MST) of the animals treated with withaferin A entrapped in the niosome was enhanced compared to the plain drugs.
Abstract Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal was evaluated for its tumor-preventing activity against urethane-induced lung adenomas in adult male albino mice. Administration of urethane in a dose of 125 mg/kg given subcutaneously biweekly for 7 months induced lung adenomas in 100% of animals. Urethane was also found to cause significant decrease in body weight, increase in mortality, leucopaenia and decrease in lymphocyte percentage as compared to untreated controls. Simultaneous oral administration of W. somnifera given in a dose of 200 mg/kg daily along with urethane protected the animals from the tumor-inducing effect of urethane. It also prevented the decrease in body weight and increase in mortality caused by urethane. The haematological changes were found to be completely reversed as evidenced by significant increases in total leucocyte count and lymphocyte percentage. These haematological changes were also observed in the animals treated with W. somnifera alone. It appears that W. somnifera may be preventing urethane-induced lung adenomas by inducing a state of nonspecific increase in resistance (adaptogen) and immunostimulant properties.