Ethnopharmacological relevance: Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal (Physalis somnifera L.) is a fairly known perennial shrub of Solanaceae family, and is used in Ayurveda- Traditional Indian Medicine (TIM), since ancient times. It is well known as Ashwagandha in Sanskrit language in Ayurvedic classics. Its Mula (root) is recommended for health and healing, and the number of single and compound formulation is prescribed rationally. It is believed that the species name-somnifera is coined based on popular use to "induce sleep" in Ayurveda.
Aim of the study: The present study was aimed to bring out the experience-based traditional uses of Ashwagandha for health and healing with an emphasis on the pharmacological and biochemical scientific evidences to corroborate them. The scientific evidences have been explored from the national and international publications.
Materials and method: A comprehensive literary search of Ayurvedic classics was carried out systematically regarding Ashwagandha for its rationality behind the traditional uses. To excavate the subject matter, the original Ayurvedic scriptures and several standard Ayurvedic texts of different period was studied insightfully for meaningful contribution. It is to be noted that the primary source of knowledge was considered in writing this manuscript without any biased attitude. The available literature on Ashwagandha was also searched to ascertain the basis of scientific Latin name and correct identity. The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia and other relevant scientific works were also taken into consideration to make the subject matter more clearly to the scientific world. For the scientific evidence of the uses, the international and national Journals and other published material were also searched to make it inquisitiveness to the scholars interested in Ayurvedic medicinal plants.
Results: The present paper throws ancient luminosity behind the therapeutic uses of one of the promising plant drug i.e., Ashwagandha of ancient India even to the present time. The scientific evidences corroborate the rationality ascribed in available Ayurvedic classics of various period of India has been gained.
Conclusion: The study explores that the first reference of Ashwagandha with its significant nomenclature, useful part, properties, action, and eloquent uses has its footprint in the original texts of Ayurveda. In later works enhanced knowledge with traditional uses continued even today. Several single and compound formulations have been found to maintain the health and to alleviate the disorders rationally. It is worthy to note here that the scientific evidences corroborate the uses practiced in Ayurveda.
Keywords: Ashwagandha; Ayurveda; Health and healing; Therapeutic uses; Traditional indian medicine.
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