Latin name: Withania somnifera (Solanaceae (nightshade) family).

Other common names: Indian ginseng, withania.


Ashwaganda is a plant in the same family as the tomato. It grows as a stout shrub that reaches a height of five feet (170 centimeters). Like the tomato, ashwaganda bears yellow flowers and red fruit, though the fruit is berrylike in size and shape. Ashwaganda grows prolifically in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. All parts of the plant are used in herbal medicine.

Ashwaganda is a Hindi name meaning "horse’s smell." The term refers not only to the smell of a horse but also to a horse’s strength. Some herbalists refer to Ashwaganda as Indian Ginseng, since it is used in ayurvedic medicine in the same way that ginseng is used in traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).


Ashwaganda has been used for more than 2,500 years as a "vitalizer." Today, we would place it in the category of adaptogens. It is rejuvenating, balancing, strengthening, and calming to the nervous system. Ashwaganda is useful for relieving fatigue, nervous exhaustion and memory loss. This herb has a reputation as an aphrodiciac and is believed to help prevent sterility in males and sexual ailments. A mild sedative, ashwaganda reduces mental chatter and promotes calm sleep. It also promotes tissue regeneration and slows the aging process.

It is excellent for us in bodybuilding and for any type of physical sport, as it gives an instant charge of long lasting energy without the use of stimulants.

(Source: Prescription for Herbal Healing, Copyright 2002, Phyllis A. Balch.)