Withania somnifera, also known asashwagandha, Indian ginseng, poisongooseberry, or winter cherry, is a plant in theSolanaceae or nightshade family. Severalother species in the genus Withania aremorphologically similar. It is used as a herb inAyurvedic medicine.
DESCRIPTIONIt grows as a short shrub (35–75 cm) with acentral stem from which branches extendradially in a star pattern (stellate) andcovered with a dense matte of wooly hairs(tomentose). The flowers are small andgreen, while the ripe fruit is orange-red andhas milk-coagulating properties. The plantslong, brown, tuberous roots are used formedicinal purposes.
ETYMOLOGYAshwagandha in Sanskrit means "horsessmell" (ashwa- horse, gandha- smell),probably originating from the odour of its rootwhich resembles that of a sweaty horse.The species name somnifera means "sleep-inducing" in Latin.
CULTIVATIONWithania somnifera is cultivated in many ofthe drier regions of India, such as MandsauDistrict of Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Sindh,Gujarat, and Rajasthan. It is also found inNepal.
CLIMATIC CONDITIONS FORGROWTHWithania somnifera is grown as late rainy-season(kharif) crop. Semitropical areas receiving 500 to750 mm rainfall are suitable for its cultivation as arainfed crop. If one or two winter rains arereceived, then root development improves.The crop requires a relatively dry season during itsgrowing period. It can tolerate a temperaturerange of 20 to 38°C and as low a temperature as10°C. The plant grows from sea level to an altitudeof 1500 meters
PATHOLOGYWithania somnifera is prone to several pestsand diseases. Leaf spot disease caused byAlternaria alternata is the most prevalentdisease, which is most severe in the plains ofPunjab, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh.Biodeterioration of its pharmaceutically activecomponents during leaf spot disease has beenreported. The Choanephora cucurbitarumcauses a stem and leaf rot of Withaniasomnifera.
CULINARY USEThe berries can be used as a substitute forrennet, to coagulate milk in cheese-making .
MEDICINAL USEThe main chemical constituents are alkaloidsand steroidal lactones. These include tropineand cuscohygrine. The leaves contain thesteroidal lactones, withanolides, notablywithaferin A, which was the first withanolide tobe isolated from W. somnifera.
TRADITIONAL MEDICINAL USESIn Ayurveda, the berries and leaves of W.somnifera are locally applied to tumors,tubercular glands, carbuncles, and ulcers. Theroots of W. somnifera are used to prepare theherbal remedy ashwagandha, which has beentraditionally used to treat various symptomsand conditions .
SIDE EFFECTSIn two published clinical trials of W. somnifera,the side effects were not significantly differentfrom those experienced by placebo-treatedindividuals .
ALOE VERAAloe vera is a succulent plant species that probablyoriginated in northern Africa. The species does not haveany naturally occurring populations, although closelyrelated aloes do occur in northern Africa. The species isfrequently cited as being used in herbal medicine sincethe beginning of the first century AD. Extracts from A.vera are widely used in the cosmetics and alternativemedicine industries, being marketed as variously havingrejuvenating, healing or soothing properties. There is,however, little scientific evidence of the effectiveness orsafety of A. vera extracts for either cosmetic ormedicinal purposes, and what positive evidence isavailable is frequently contradicted by other studies.
USESPreparations made from the plant Aloe vera are oftenreferred to as "aloe vera". Scientific evidence for thecosmetic and therapeutic effectiveness of aloe vera islimited and when present is frequently contradictory.Despite this, the cosmetic and alternative medicineindustries regularly make claims regarding the soothing,moisturizing, and healing properties of aloe vera. Aloevera gel is used as an ingredient in commerciallyavailable lotions, yogurt, beverages, and some desserts,although at certain doses, it has toxic properties whenused either for ingested or topical applications.
FOLK MEDICINEEarly records of Aloe vera use appear in the EbersPapyrus from 16th century BC, in both Dioscorides DeMateria Medica and Pliny the Elders Natural Historywritten in the mid-first century AD along with theJuliana Anicia Codex produced in 512 AD. The species isused widely in the traditional herbal medicine of manycountries. Aloe vera, called kathalai in Ayurvedicmedicine, is used as a multipurpose skin treatment.This may be partly due to the presence of saponin, achemical compound that acts as an anti-microbialagent.
DIETARY SUPPLEMENTAloin, a compound found in the exudate of some Aloespecies, was the common ingredient in over-the-counter (OTC) laxative products in the United Statesprior to 2003, when the Food and Drug Administrationruled that aloin was a class III ingredient, therebybanning its use. Aloe vera has potential toxicity, withside-effects occurring at some dose levels both wheningested or applied topically. Although toxicity may beless when aloin is removed by processing, aloe verathat contains aloin in excess amounts may induce side-effects.
A 2-year National Toxicology Program (NTP) study onoral consumption of non-decolorized whole leaf extractof Aloe vera found evidence of carcinogenic activity inmale and female rats. The NTP says more information isneeded to determine the potential risks to humans.Aloe vera juice is marketed to support the health of thedigestive system, but there is neither scientific evidencenor regulatory approval to support this claim. Theextracts and quantities typically used for such purposesappear to be dose-dependent for toxic effects.
PRESENTED BY :SOVIT SUMAN PATROX-CROLL NO. 42K.V.BALASOREGUIDED BY : MR. D. MOHALLICK