Scientific name: Withania somnifera. Name in different languages:- English: Rennet, Ashwagandha, Poison gooseberry, BibAlex LifeDesk, Winter Cherry, withania, Ashwagandha. Sanskrit: ashwahagandha. Hindi: Ashwagandha, asgandh, punir, Rasbhari. Telugu: Vajigandha. Gujarati:Ghodaasun. Tamil: Amukkilaachedi, Amukkuram, Karappaan thazhai. Kannada: Kanchuki. Malayalam: Amukkuram.
Ashwagandha is a medicine all by itself (ottamooli). It serves as a medicine for all types of rheumatic diseases. Ashwagandha is also used as medicine for certain ailments that affect women and also for paediatric treatments. It is also known as Indian ginseng, belongs to the solanaceae family and its botanical name is Withania somnifera. The roots are used for medicinal purposes. While we buy ashwagandha from the market, there are chances of getting cheated often as it is replaced with the roots of another plant Ruelliatuberosa (Minnie root) which belongs to the Acanthaceae family, which is very similar to ashwagandha and has no medicinal value. So it is advised to grow it in the house itself. Let us find out how to distinguish ashwagandha. This plant grows up to a height of 1.25 meters high and is cultivated all over India commercially. It starts blooming in the month of December and the flowers have yellow color with a green shade. The seeds of it are flat and the fruits are red or orange in colour. The fruits are fleshy type. Once the fruits are collected, it is wrapped in a cloth and mashed thoroughly. After that it is dried in sunlight for at least 6 days. After that the seeds are dried in shade after removing from the cloth. These seeds are used for reproduction. The harvesting period of ashwagandha is around 180 days.
Seeds of this plant, are sown on a platform made of 25 cm high and enough width, from the ground. The seeds start germinating in one week time and the roots get set in 30 days. At this stage the saplings can be replanted. The distance between the plants must be 30 cm each. Before planting the saplings, the soil has to be stirred and mixed with cow dung (50 kg of cow dung for 1 cent of land). When the plant reaches the age of 180 days, they can be uprooted and the roots can be used for medical purposes. The tubers can be cut in to pieces 10 cm long and dried and stored for later use.
Ashwagandha has the ability to rejuvenate the nerves. It is also used to cure inflammation in the body, to stimulate the kidneys, as a painkiller, for rheumatic diseases, and muscle pain. Ashwagandha should be used only under medical supervision as excess dosage may lead to insanity.