This cousin to the tomato and potato has a long history of use in India. Because it is still considered an important Ayurvedic herb with qualities similar to ginseng, ashwagandha is also known as Indian ginseng.
Ashwagandha has a documented history of use in India that spans more than 5,000 years. The herb is particularly significant in Ayurveda, India’s ancient system of healing. The key role of the herb is that of an adaptogen, meaning that it helps the various body systems to regain balance after undergoing a period of stress or trauma.
Ashwagandha is also considered to be a potent rejuvenator and is credited with promoting longevity and fertility. In fact, its name, which roughly translates to “smell of the horse,” is a testament to the herb’s strength and efficacy.
Because ashwagandha is considered to be one of the foods and spices that are thought to promote clarity of thought and memory recall, it is classified in Ayurveda as a Medharasayan.
Its Hindu name means “Horse smell,” because the herb smells like a sweaty horse. This herb has been used for centuries in India as food ingredient.
Description: Native to India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan, is cultivated from seeds and the leaves, fruit, and root are harvested in the spring and fall. It grows as an erect shrub that sprouts yellow flowers and fresh berries.
The ashwaganda root is powdered or dried as are the leaves while the berries are chewed in some parts of the world or dried for later use.
Safety: Unknown if Ashwagandha is safe for pregnant and nursing women. Used safely by children in India. Do not take Ashwagandha if congested.