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Withania is one SUPER herb.

Posted by Geoff Beaty on 3 March 2023
Withania is one SUPER herb.

Withania Somnifera, also known as Ashwagandha, Winter Cherry and Indian Ginseng, is one of the “SUPER” Adaptogens coming to us from Ayurvedic Herbal Medicine with 8,000 years of recorded use1. It is what I call a “Super Adaptogen” because, along with a few other herbs like Korean Ginseng, Rhodiola and Siberian Ginseng, all have very powerful effects on virtually every system in the human body in addition to their adaptogenic effects and it sets them apart from the many adaptogens that are narrower in their effects on the body. As a “pharmacotherapeutic group, adaptogens were recently defined as herbal preparations that increased attention and endurance in fatigue, and reduced stress-induced impairments and disorders related to the neuro-endocrine and immune systems” 2, 3.

Withania certainly does all that but also much more. Not only does it improve response to stress, improving mental alertness at the same time it also reduces anxiety1, it is a mild sedative also improving sleep quality and duration4, it can decrease mild depression and it is protective of the nervous system. Withania also improves cognition and memory and protects the brain from multiple neurodegenerative disorders (eg. Alzheimers, Parkinson’s & Huntington’s)1.

Withania increases physical performance and endurance 1, 5, 6, not only athletic but also at work, reduces fatigue,5, 6, increasing muscle strength 5, 6, and increases the ability of older people to sit erect for longer. Withania improves cardiorespiratory fitness,5 protects the heart and improves red blood cell levels, if low. Withania not only protects the heart it improves red blood cell count, regulates blood pressure, protects against arteriosclerosis1, improves blood sugar levels, lowers blood fats (cholesterols etc) and improves immune function1.

It enhances sexual performance (erectile function), infertility (increasing sperm quality and quantity) and bone density.

It can significantly help with withdrawal from some drugs of addiction (opiates).

Withania also protects the liver3, the stomach lining from ulcers 1,

Glutathione, the body’s most important endogenous* antioxidant, its effectiveness is amplified by as much as 100%. Withania also increases the levels of all endogenous* antioxidants, (Glutathione, Superoxide Dismutase and Catalase)9. It’s antioxidant effects include being antiarthritic and a mild pain reduction effect1.

Studies have shown that when combined with allopathic treatments Withania exerts chemoprotective and antitumour abilities and increasing effectiveness of radiation therapy and at the same time reducing known side effects of radiation (protecting healthy cells) and drug therapies (such as short and long term fatigue)1,8.

Studies on Withania verses various drugs (such as Lorazepam for anxiety, Impramine for depression) found its effects equivalent but with significantly lower side effects1.

I use Withania often as the “Emperor” herb (the most important) in an individual’s personalised formula, its effect can bring profound changes when combined with herbs focussed on your specific needs.

* Endogenous: means produced or synthesised within our body.


1.     An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda. Narendra Singh, Mohit Bhalla, Prashanti de Jager, and Marilena Gilca https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3252722/

2.     Panossian, A.; Wikman, G. Evidence-based efficacy of adaptogens in fatigue, and molecular mechanisms related to their stress-protective activity. Current Clin. Pharmacol. 2009, 4, 198– 219.

3.     Panossian, A.; Wikman, G. Evidence-based efficacy of adaptogens in fatigue and molecular mechanisms relared to their stress-protective activity. In International Evidence–Based Complementary Medicine Conference, Armidale, Australia, 13-15 March; Bonn, K., Ed.; University of New England: Armidale, Australia, 2009; p. 10.

4.     https://pubag.nal.usda.gov/catalog/7082294

5.     https://www.mdpi.com/2411-5142/6/1/20

6.     Choudhary B, Shetty A, Langade DG. Efficacy of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera [L.] Dunal) in improving cardiorespiratory endurance in healthy athletic adults. Ayu. 2015 Jan-Mar;36(1):63-8. doi: 10.4103/0974-8520.169002. PMID: 26730141; PMCID: PMC4687242.

7.     Kasture S, Vinci S, Ibba F, Puddu A, Marongiu M, Murali B, et al. Withania somnifera prevents morphine withdrawal-induced decrease in spine density in nucleus accumbens shell of rats: a confocal laser scanning microscopy study. Neurotox Res. 2009 Nov;16(4):343-55. doi: 10.1007/s12640-009-9069-2. Epub 2009 Jun 24.

8.     Winters M. Ancient medicine, modern use: Withania somnifera and its potential role in integrative oncology. Altern Med Rev. 2006 Dec;11(4):269-77. PMID: 17176166.

9.     Anwer T, Sharma M, Pillai KK, Khan G. Protective effect of Withania somnifera against oxidative stress and pancreatic beta-cell damage in type 2 diabetic rats. Acta Pol Pharm. 2012 Nov-Dec;69(6):1095-101. PMID: 23285670.

Author:Geoff Beaty
Tags:NewsEvidence Based ResearchHerbal MedicineMental healthAyurveda Medicine


  • The Institute for Functional Medicine
  • Society for Integrative Oncology
  • Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia
  • Australian Traditional-Medicine Society
  • British Naturopathic Association