Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) a popular herb also known as winter cherry, has been used in Ayurveda for thousands of years. In Ayurveda, ashwagandha is considered to be rasayana, which in Sanskrit means “science of lengthening lifespan.”
Ashwagandha is typically used as a restorative tonic and is considered by Ayurveda practitioners to be the most powerful herb used for healing and it is highly revered as an adaptogen. Adaptogens help the body to cope with stress and help bring the body back into balance, which explains why it was historically used after illness or for severe stress.
Ashwagandha may also sometimes be called “Indian ginseng” because of its rejuvenating and tonic properties, but it is not related to ginseng botanically. It is the unique profile of naturally occurring compounds called withanolides along with antioxidants, flavonoids, amino acids with other phytonutrients that enable ashwagandha to act on various body systems including the neurological system, immune system, energy–production system, endocrine and reproductive systems.
A scientific review examining the potential beneficial effects of this herb found that ashwagandha possesses many properties that support antioxidant activity, inflammation support and other rejuvenating properties.