I have been devoting a portion of my time to investigating herbs recently, I realized that in the past I had concluded that some benefits of various herbs were greatly over-exaggerated. There would be all kinds of amazing claims both on an academic level and clinically, and then when I would muscle test the products on patients- very few if any would strengthen the patient, even if they were reported to treat the conditions the patient was suffering from.
One of the herbs that I initially felt did not live up to its expectations is Withania somnifera, also known as ashwagandha. Over a number of years, I have tested many samples of it including some from companies that have excellent reputations (and are great companies), but it rarely tested well. Recently a friend of a friend, who imports ashwagandha from small family farms in
We then imported samples from every importer we could find that carried ashwagandha, to find the best raw material available and decided to make ashwagandha Supreme the 7th product in the Supreme Nutrition line. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of testing each batch that is imported by both standard laboratory methods as well as with AK (applied kinesiology). It makes a world of difference in terms of the results you will get on the patient. If you practice AK, the benefits of this method should be obvious. At Supreme Nutrition we always do this. We also supply the physician with new test vials whenever the batch is changed so the physicians test vial comes from the same crop as the bottles on their shelf. I do not believe any other company does this.
Withania (Ashwagandha) is an adaptogen working on the endocrine system and the HPA. The Sanskrit implies it gives the user the strength and stamina of a horse- some doctors saying that taking it in the morning will allow you to run 20 miles while taking it at night will allow you to sleep like a baby. I am sure that is an exaggeration (at least in my case), but you get the idea. It is most well known to decrease fatigue, allow you to handle stress more effectively, increase strength and stamina, increase libido, improve memory and clarity, and produce restful sleep when needed. The various conditions it has been used for include arthritis (it is anti-inflammatory), chronic lung conditions and immune deficiency, hypertension, auto-immune problems, hypo-thyroidism, and many others. Animal studies have shown it may be useful in treating drug-induced dyskinesia. In one animal study, ashwagandha increased brain levels of superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase. This could easily be the mechanism of how it improves cognition, memory and perhaps longevity. Other studies have shown it increases acetylcholine receptor activity, stimulates the growth of axons and dendrites and has GABA-like activity. In most cases we prefer it to GABA because it is a “whole food” and has many complementary properties. For a complete monograph we refer you to this article.
Contraindications: Because ashwagandha can lower blood pressure (can act as a calcium channel blocker) and blood sugar I would be careful in prescribing it to diabetics and people with hypotension (since it is an adaptogen, it will probably be OK though we suggest you monitor the patient). It should not be used during pregnancy or in patients with active peptic ulcers. I would not prescribe it to patients on sedatives. I have not been able to find any cases where side effects actually occurred yet these precautions make sense based on the physiology of how it performs. It is in the nightshade family so monitor patients you give it to that have known nightshade sensitivities (most nightshade sensitive patients tolerate ashwagandha very well).