Ashwagandha/Winter herry(Withania somnifera (Linn.) Dunal)
1253530501Ashwagandha-Wintercherry_out.jpg Withania somnifem (Linn.) Dunal Family - Euphorbiaceae

Withania somnifem (Linn.) Dunal

Family - Euphorbiaceae

An erect branched under shrub up to 1.25 m in height, minutely stellate tomentose. Roots fleshy, tapering, whitish brown, Leaves ovate; flowers are greenish.
Hindi - Asgandh
Malayalam - Amukkuram
Kannada - Angarberu, Asvagandhi
Tamil - Amukkira, Asuvagandhi
Bengali: Ashvagandha
Gujarati: Ghodakun, Asan, Asoda
Marathi: Askandha
Telugu: Pennerugadda, Panneru, Pulivendrum, Vajigandha
It grows in dry subtropical regions of Rajasthan (Nagour), Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra & Madhya Pradesh.
PART USED : Root, leaves, fruit and seed      
Ashwagandha is a sedative, tonic, stimulant, aphrodisiac and helps toning of uterus. It restores loss of memory and is used in cases of nervous exhaustion spermatorrhoea and senile debility. It is used as an antistress, immunomodulalory, anticancer antioxidant, anticonvulsive, anthelminthic, antiarthritic, antibacterial, cardioprotective, antidepressant, antitoxic, hypoglycaemic, diuretic and hypocholesteraemic, immunosuppressive, adaptogenic and antiradical.

 •     Alcoholism      
 •     Alzheimer’s disease      
 •     Anemia      
 •     Breathing difficulty      
 •     Cancer- for general strength during and after chemotherapy    
 •     Carbuncles      
 •     Convalescence      
 •     Cough      
 •     Emaciation      
 •     HIV support, AIDS      
 •     Immune system problems      
 •     Insomnia      
 •     Lumbago      
 •     Memory loss      
 •     Mental function, clarity      
 •     MS      
 •     Muscle energy loss      
 •     Nerve exhaustion, overwork, fatigue      
 •     Paralysis      
 •     Rheumatism, rheumatic swellings      
 •     Sexual debility, infertility, builds semen      
 •     Skin afflictions      
 •     Stress      
 •     Swollen glands      
 •     Ulcers      
 •     Women's health - stabilizes fetus, regenerates hormones
1     Anxiety, Depression, Panic Disorder.      
2     As Antioxidant & Free Radical Scavenger.      
3     As Body building Aid.      
4     For Weakness, Fatigue, Herbal Rejuvenation, Aphrodisiac.      
5     As Nervine tonic, calming and antistress agent and adaptogenic herb.      




Soil and Climate

It grows well in sandy loam or light red soil, having pH 7.5-8.0 with good drainage. It grows between 600-1200 m altitude. The semi-tropical areas receiving 500-750 mm rain are suitable for cultivation of this rainfed crop. The crop requires dry season during growth. Temperature between 20°C to 35°C is suitable for cultivation. Late winter rains are conducive for the proper development of the roots.


Ashwagandha is usually grown in fields, which are not properly irrigated. The field on which food crops cannot be taken profitably may be used for cultivation. The soil selected for cultivation is well pulverized by ploughing, disking or harrowing. The field may be then leveled.
The crop can be sown either by broad casting or in lines. Line to line method is preferred as it increases root production and also helps in performing intercultural practices properly. The seeds are usually sown about 1-3 cm deep in June- July in the nursery. A light shower after sowing ensures good germination. About 500-750 g seeds are sufficient for one-hectare. The seedling after 25-35 days can be transplanted in the field maintaining a space of 60 x 60 cm between the plants & the rows. Since'Ashwagandha' is a rainy season crop, the time of sowing is decided by arrival of monsoon.
The seeds sown by broadcasting or in line in furrows should be thinned out by hand on 25th-30th day after sowing to maintain a plant population of about 30-60 plants per square meter (about 3.5 to 6 lakh plants/hectare). The plant density to be used may depend on the nature and fertility of the soil. On the marginal land the population is kept high. One hand weeding at an early stage is sufficient to enable the Ashwagandha plants to suppress the growth of weed by its smothering effect.
The crop of Ashwagandha does not require heavy doses of manure/ fertilizer. In Madhya Pradesh, where it is grown on commercial scale no fertilizers are applied and the crop is cultivated only on residual fertility.
Light shower after transplantation ensures establishment of seedlings. There is no need of irrigation if rainfall is at regular intervals. Excessive rainfall/ water is harmful for the crop. Life saving irrigations may be applied, if required.


The plants start flowering and bearing fruits from December. The crop is ready for harvest in January-March, 150 to 180 days after sowing. The maturity of crop is judged by the drying leaves and the yellow red berries. The entire plant is uprooted for its root, which are separated from aerial parts by cutting the stem 1-2 cm above the crown. The root is then either cut transversely into small pieces (7 to 10 cm) or dried under the sun as such. About 650-800 kg roots can be obtained from 1 hectare, which after drying reduces to 350-435 kg. Berries are hand plucked separately. They are dried and crushed to take out the seeds.

The dried roots, entire or transversely cut into smaller pieces, have to be further cleaned, trimmed and graded. The roots are beaten with a club, which removes adhering soil and breaks off the thin, brittle lateral rootlets. Lateral branches, root crown and stem remains on roots are carefully trimmed with the help of knife.



Majority of the constituents are withanolides (steroidal lactones with ergostane Skelton) and alkaloids. These include withanone, withaferin A, withanolides I, II, HI, A, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, WS-J, P and S, withasomidienone, withanolide C and alkaloids viz., cuscohygrine, anahygrine, tropine, pseudotropine, anaferine, isopellatierine and 3-tropyltigloate.


Others includes free amino acids viz., proline, Valine, tryosine, Alanine, Glycine, hydroxyproline, Aspartic acid, Glutamic acid, Cystine, Cysteine, Glycosides, Glucose, Chlorogenic acid, Condensed Tannins, Flavonoids and some derivatives of alkaloids and withanolides.
Amlaic acid, corilagin, 3-6-di-O-galloyl-glucose ethyl gallate, 1,6-di-O-galloyl-6-D-glucose, 1-di-O-galloyl-ft-D-glucose, putranjivain A, digallic acid, phyllemblic acid, emblicol music (=galactaric) acid, ascorbic acid fruit, Lupeol, kaempherol-3-O-B-DTglucoside, quercetin-3-O-R-D-glucoside, (gibberellin A-l, gibberellin A-3, gibberellin A-4, gibberellin A-7, gibberellin A-9.


Two steroidal lactones of the plant named Withaferin A and Withanolide E exhibit specific immunosuppressive effect on human B and T lymphocytes and on mice thymocytes.

Analytical Profile

1. HPLC conditions for the separation of withaferin A in extract.
Mobile phase                 n-hexane ; isopropanol (9:1)
Flow rate                         0.2ml/min.
Column                           PorasiJ A coiled column (12ft. * 1/8 inch)
Defecator                        UV at 225 urn.
2. Analysis of withanolide J in in vitro culture by HPLC      

Mobile phase Solvent A : water                              Solvent B : Acetonitrile
Gradient Solvent composition from 25-100%     B and flow from 0.38 to 0.8ml/min in a total period Of 51 min
Column                                                                       Lichrospher RP-18 (5mm x 25cm)
Detection                                                                     UV at 2J4nm and 335nm    


An average yield from one-hectare land under commercial cultivation is approximately 3-5 quintal of dried roots and 50-75 kg seeds.


Commercial drug consists of dried roots from cultivation. The roots of wild growing populations are not acceptable because of high carbohydrate content and variable composition of alkaloids and are hence considered as adulterants.


The powder of Ashwagandha mixed with sugar and taken with ahee alleviates insomnia and bring sleep quickly.


1-3 g powder.


Asvagandhadyarishta, Asvagandhadoleha, Bala asvagandha laksadi.