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QUESTION: My question concerns a popular Ayurvedic herb, Ashwagandha (a.k.a. "Winter Cherry": Withania somnifera; Solanaceae). I believe it is in the Nightshade family, and none of the nightshade vegetables are good for my blood type, which is A. Should I also refrain from using Ashwagandha, which is an ingredient in an antioxidant coffee substitute, "Raja's Cup"? By the way, thank you very much for this forum. I enjoyed reading the archived questionsand am glad you are so knowledgable about Ayurvedic and Chinese herbs, pranayama, etc.
ANSWER: Withania somnifera L. (Solanaceae) (WS) is an Indian medicinal plant having a remarkable reputation among the indigenous medical practitioners. The plant exhibits varying degrees of therapeutic value, some of which useful in the treatment of cognitive dysfunction, epilepsy, insomnia, rheumatism, gout, dyspepsia. It has been shown to be apotent anti-oxidant. These antioxidant effects of active principles may explain, at least in part, the reported anti-stress, immunomodulatory, cognition-facilitating, anti-inflammatory and antiaging effects produced by them in experimental animal and in clinical situations and may justify the further investigation of their other beneficial biological properties.(1) Ashhagandha may also help reverse the loss of white blood cells during chemotherapy with taxitol-like drugs. (2) It also appears to exert a positive influence on the endocrine, cardiopulmonary, and central nervous systems. The mechanisms of action for these properties are not fully understood. Toxicity studies reveal that ashwagandha appears to be a safe compound.
Ashwagandha is especially good stress remedy for group A's, and can also work faily effectively in groups B and AB. Group O does better on Rhodiola-type adaptogens which help modulate adrenaline release.
1. Russo A, Izzo AA, Cardile V, Borrelli F, Vanella A. Indian medicinal plants as antiradicals and DNA cleavage protectors.Phytomedicine 2001 Mar;8(2):125-32
2.Gupta YK, Sharma SS, Rai K, Katiyar CK. Reversal of paclitaxel induced neutropenia by Withania somnifera in mice. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2001 Apr;45(2):253-7.