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Withanolides: Main Compound of Ashwagandha

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Withanolides: Main Compound of Ashwagandha

Komal Mehta
Dietitian Pooja Maheshwari
Research Dietician, CDE, N.D.D.Y.

Ashwagandha or withania somnifera is a time less shrub used since hundreds of years for its health benefits. It is believed that anyone who uses Ashwagandha root extract or powder will gain vitality and strength like a horse.

Ashwagandha or withania somnifera is native to North Africa and India, its numerous uses and health benefits making it one of the best gifts of nature. Ashwagandha is a combined Sanskrit word that means horse (ashwa) smelling (gandha). Ashwagandha or withania somnifera roots has multiple uses such as a herbal tonic for increased strength & fertility, as a tranquilizer, benefits of promoting diuresis, and it is thermogenic and astringent. Therefore, this plant is refer as a Rasayana (rejuvenator) to improve physical health along with benefits for mental health, which ultimately increase the body’s longevity.

Ashwagandha or Withania somnifera is available in extract (capsule), loose powder and in tincture forms. The root extract is the best way to consume ashwagandha as it has low toxins and is rich in withanolides. Withanolides are the active compound of Ashwagandha, with multiple benefits and plenty of uses due to their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and hormone balancing properties. Hence, Ashwagandha is also called an adaptogen and its uses include anti-ageing, boosting immunity, benefits for insomnia and joint pain, etc.

So…What are withanolides?
Withanolides are the active compounds of Ashwagandha or Withania somnifera and are mainly found in the plant roots. Withanolides are part of steroidal and alkaloids and their pharmacological activities are attributed mainly to withaferin. A review article by Narindarpal published in the Journal of Botanical Sciences 2013, stated that Ashwagandha root extract demonstrates anti-inflammatory activity, which has been accredited by its biologically active steroids Withaferin A.
Among other uses, ashwagandha has benefits of increasing antioxidant activity of free-radical scavenging enzymes that improve immunity by increasing Hb concentration, RBC count, platelet count, and body weight. Similarly, another review article by Narendra Singh published in The African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines 2011, concluded that withanolides provide benefits to improve the function of the reproductive system. Being a powerful adaptogen, it enhances the body's resilience to stress. Hence, withnolides in Withania somnifera are very important for its benefits and health action. Because of its multiple uses, I always advise my patients to use Ashwagandha root extract capsule, especially from BestSource Nutrition as the product is standardized to 1.5% withanolides, assuring me of good quality and results for my clients.

In the market, Ashwagandha is available in various forms such as extract capsule, loose powder, powder tablet, and liquid tincture, which makes it difficult to determine the purest form of ashwagandha, without any side effects. In fact, a review article published by Dubey in the Journal Pharmaceutical and Scientific Innovation 2015, has also reported high inconsistency in the volume of withanolides in the root powder due to absence of withanolides standardization. Since there is no standardization required for the loose form of powdered ashwagandha, adulteration is easy. That is why, I always advise my clients to select Ashwagandha root extract capsule from BestSource Nutrition, which is standardized to 1.5% withanolides.

Disclaimer: All content provided on this section is for informational purposes only. Any views or opinions or claims represented in this content are personal, belong solely to the writer and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the writer may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this article.

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