‘Ashwa’, meaning horse in Ayurveda, because it invigorates with the power of a horse, has been used for over 6,000 years in Indian alchemy as a Rasāyana.
Rasāyana is an ancient tool used for the journey in the Path of Esssence, the path which leads from mortal human to immortal godman who has realized his atman as Brahman (4)
Science has provided evidence for its historical usage as a potent rejuvenating, longevity-enhancing, revitalizing adaptogen, tonic, and exceptional nervine.
Ashwgndh is a nightshade making it a member of the wide branching and well known Solanaceae family. Its genetically similar relatives are familiar every day foods like tomatos, potates, peppers and other common grocery store bought foods. But It is also classified with advanced medicinal plants like the shamanic and sacred hallucinogenic, psychadelic, and spiritually expanding medicines like Atropa belladonna, Datura stramonium, Hyoscyames niger, and even Scopolia carniolica. So, where does Ashwagandha fall upon this plant medicine spectrum? Its definitely somewhere around the middle, making it an all around plant medicine necessity. (3)
The root of the plant is the most popularly used medicinal component. It carries a diverse array of alkaloids, steroidal lactones, and saponins which have all been identified for their therapeutic values. Many of its active principles are anti-stress and immunomodulatory agents. The science regards the root as a tonic, aphrodisiac, narcotic, diuretic, anthelmintic, astringent, thermogenic and stimulant. It is commonly used as an adjunct with chemotherapy or radiotherapy and also shows strong anti-cancer effects and it also reduces the side effects of anti-cancer agents. It has also stirred interest for its extremely effective treatment of tumor like disease and its ability to improve white blood cell count and function, which are commonly depleted in cancer patients. (2)
It is widely trusted for a spectrum of health promoting effects outside of cancer treatments. Most notably for its adaptogenic, cardioprotective, cardeotropic effects. It supports muscle strengthening, neuronal systems, and is used to inspire youthful vigor and heightened endurance. (4)
Ashwagandha was projected as one of the six essential medicinal herbs in a recent seminar (Singh, 2005). There are even documented cases of lung cancer patients refusing modern therapy and achieving a complete clinical and radiological recovery with an Ashwagandha therapy.
Its immunomodulatory and cognitive enhancing effects are the product of the metabolization of withanoside IV to a biofavorable form of sominone. Sominone promotes 'synaptogenesis', or the outgrowth of new dendrites neurites, axonal and synaptic networks that continued to expand up to seven days after administering.
Ashwagandha has shown to be comparable to the affects of Lorazepam in eliminating anxiety and increasing social ability in multiple double blind placebo controlled studies. Significant pain relief in animal trials was also observed that lend to its narcotic like effects.
Easy to grow from seed it, does well in temperate climates and can be up to seven feet tall and nearly a foot in diameter. It requires full sun and sandy soil conditions to thrive. It usually takes about 5-6 months to flower and is noticibly ready to be harvested when its red berries form and its flowers are blooming. Harvest by wetting the soil around the plant and scooping the roots out. Clean, dry, and powder the roots to be used in teas, tinctures, or be medicinally extracted by a spagyrist.
Two ounces of organic ashwagandha was purchased form Marquette MI CO-OP and soxhlet extracted with 60% organic grape spirits under vacuum. Medicine was spagyrically activated under the governance of mercury.
(2) Singh N, Bhalla M, de Jager P, Gilca M. An overview on ashwagandha: a Rasayana (rejuvenator) of Ayurveda. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2011;8(5 Suppl):208-213. doi:10.4314/ajtcam.v8i5S.9
(3) Wang, J., Zhang, H., Kaul, A., Li, K., Priyandoko, D., Kaul, S. C., & Wadhwa, R. (2021). Effect of Ashwagandha Withanolides on Muscle Cell Differentiation. Biomolecules, 11(10), 1454. https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11101454