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Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) – Cancer Treatment?

Ashwagandha is an herb well known in the Hindu Ayurvedic system and is native to India, northern Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East. It is an evergreen and a member of the pepper family. Also known as Withania somnifera, Indian Ginseng, Withania,  and Winter Cherry, it typically grows to a maximum height of three feet and has yellow flowers with raisin size fruit.

It's use goes back thousands of years in the Hindu Ayurvedic system and is sometimes referred to as "Indian Ginseng." It is believed that  Ashwagandha will increase stamina, improve sexual function, strengthen the immune system, improve memory, soothe and calm anxiety and slow the ageing process as well as many other conditions. Because of this, it is a major herb in the the Ayurvedic system and is one of the most used in India.

Ashwaganada is also claimed to have anti-bacterial properties and is used in a poultice for some skin conditions and wounds. There may be some benefit in using Ashwaganada if undergoing chemotherapy treatments.

Active Ingredient(s):

Alkaloids, Withanoloids

How It Is Used:

Traditionally, Ashwagandha has been used in a number of ways, including teas, combining with other herbs, and chewing the fruit. All parts of the plant are used for healing properties.

Toxicity

None known at this time.

Modern Science

Because of the Withanoloids that this herb contains, modern science is interested in their use for a variety of conditions.  There does appear to be some evidence that they can kill cancer cells, and it has been suggested that withanoloids be added to any cocktails of medicine aimed at treating cancer.

According to a study at the Indian Institute of Science, (Vaishnavi K, Saxena N, Shah N, Singh R, Manjunath K, Uthayakumar M, Kanaujia SP, Kaul SC, Sekar K, Wadhwa R) and published in September of 2012,

They are known to protect plants against herbivores and have medicinal value including anti-inflammation, anti-cancer, adaptogenic and anti-oxidant effects. Withaferin A (Wi-A) and Withanone (Wi-N) are two structurally similar withanolides isolated from Withania somnifera, also known as Ashwagandha in Indian Ayurvedic medicine. Ashwagandhaalcoholic leaf extract (i-Extract), rich in Wi-N, was shown to kill cancer cells selectively. Furthermore, the two closely related purified phytochemicals, Wi-A and Wi-N, showed differential activity in normal and cancer human cells in vitro and in vivo.

As well, a study conducted by the Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and also published in September 2012, said,

Ayurvedic medicine plants continue to draw attention for the discovery of novel anticancer agents. Withaferin A (WA) is one such small-molecule constituent of the ayurvedic medicine plant Withania somnifera with efficacy against cultured and xenografted human breast cancer cells.

There is certainly no doubt of the healing characteristics contained in Ashwagandha and the fact that there is no toxicity levels or known interactions, it is a very safe herb to use. Its use may also improve the synthesis of carotenoids, making them more effective. In addition, there is evidence that the compounds within this plant could be effective in dealing with diabetes, and other conditions and indeed maybe an antioxidant.

Ashwagandha, Libido & Testosterone

Often called “Indian Ginseng,” the root of this herb has been ground into a powder and used for centuries in India as a male libido enhancer. While scientific studies on humans have been sparse up to this time, there is some scientific evidence that Ashwagandha may indeed improve libido and increase testosterone levels in men. In 2010, a study published in the medical journal Fertility and Sterility found that when given to men under 75 years old, Ashwagandha appeared to increase sperm count through a variety of mechanisms including increasing testosterone. Additionally, the men who took the herb also had increased levels of vitamins A, C, and E (all important to good sexual health) and other antioxidants in the blood.

Somehow, perhaps by attacking free radicals in the body, this amazing herb actually caused an increase in these nutrients even though the men did not increase their consumption of them.

ashwagandha-powder
Testosterone levels were also measured at the beginning and end of the study with amazing increases of up to 40%. The range was between 21 and 40 percent after consuming 5 grams of powder per day over a period of time.

In another study, published in 2012 in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, men who were given an extract of Ashwagandha were found to have increased strength even though they did not exercise. Hand grip strength, quadriceps strength, and back extensor force were tested with increases in strength found during and after the study. Additional benefits included decreased body fat and significant lowering of LDL cholesterol. It also reportedly helped with sleep problems.

Although one person was withdrawn from the study after showing signs of vertigo (and probably not caused by Ashwagandha), it’s considered a very safe remedy. So, if you are suffering from weakness, diabetes, low libido and sleep problems, this powder may be just what will help you overcome them. Our own research indicates that this brand (click the image to the right) is a high quality brand at a great price. Banyon’s powder form is extremely economical over taking capsules. Begin by taking half a teaspoon twice a day, mixed with juice or water.



Related:
Ashwagandha For Rheumatoid Arthritis

References

Withania somnifera improves semen quality by regulating reproductive hormone levels and oxidative stress in seminal plasma of infertile males. Abstract

Exploratory study to evaluate tolerability, safety, and activity of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in healthy volunteers. Abstract

5 Comments

  1. Ryan on June 27, 2015 at 4:03 am

    This is really good stuff. I don’t know why more doctors don’t know about Ashwagandha. You are right to recommend that powder in bulk as it is cheaper than buying capsules. My energy has improved after using it, but I do cycle on and off for four weeks at a time. My fitness trainer advised me to do that and it’s been working well for me.

    • admin on June 27, 2015 at 4:30 am

      Good question why more doctors don’t know about a lot of natural healing foods, Ryan! Great to read that you are seeing good results with Ashwagandha in your fitness! I’m not sure about the need for cycling on and off, but that’s an interesting concept. Do you know why your fitness trainer told you to do that?

      • Ryan on June 27, 2015 at 5:32 am

        Cycling on and off… it’s a common practice in the sports industry to do that with supplements that are believed to affect hormone levels like testosterone. We often take quite large daily doses, so the idea of cycling off is to give the body a chance to also recover from any other possible side effects that aren’t yet known about.

        It also has the idea that some supplements might only work for a short term and then lose their efficacy unless you cycle off of it for a few weeks and then begin supplementation again.

        As far as ashwagandha, my research indicates its pretty safe to stay on long term but it’s a habit that my fitness trainer wants me to adapt with many supplements that I take.

        • admin on June 27, 2015 at 5:46 am

          Got it! Thanks for the detailed response and reply, Ryan. Yes, I doubt ashwagandha would have many, if any, side effects that might be harmful, but as always, it’s good to let your family doctor know what you’re doing and taking.

          I just came across a study done on patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis – they were given the root powder (dose of 5 grams, twice per day) and after 7 weeks, there were no side effects noted. We’ll have more on this shortly.

  2. Sidheeq on March 26, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    How this Canser treatment

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