Ashwaganda has sometimes been referred to as the "Indian ginseng," meaning that its place in India's tradition is as lofty as that of ginseng in the Chinese tradition and its applications are diverse, like a panacea. It is true that ashwaganda is widely used; further, it has been recently described, along with ginseng and several other herbs, as an "adaptogen," something that helps one adapt to stressful situations. However, one of the keys to understanding the benefits of ashwaganda in Ayurvedic medicine is given in the species name "somnifera," referring to its sedative qualities. Ashwaganda has mild-acting sedative alkaloids that are among its primary active components. It is also a traditional remedy for menstrual irregularities and as a rejuvenative tonic for the muscles and bone marrow. Most of the modern research has focused on Ashwaganda's ability to treat health concerns associated with aging, such as high cholesterol and high blood sugar, osteoarthritis, and abnormal immune functions. The expected benefits are primarily attributed to its content of steroidal lactones, called withanosides.
Formula for regulating immune functions and overcoming fatigue
Ashwaganda is administered in a wide range of modern and ancient Ayurvedic formulas to overcome weakness and fatigue, to prevent the deterioration of aging, and to improve immune functions. It is combined here with licorice and neem, both of which have tonic properties. The combination of ashwaganda, licorice, and neem also appears in Artoralt (see Arjun), a formula for strengthening the heart. Curculigo is used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine as an aphrodisiac and tonic, but it is included here because it, like ashwaganda, has been shown to have adaptogenic effects. Turmeric is an aid to digestive function, promotes blood circulation, and alleviates inflammation. The formula can serve as an adjunct to modern medical treatments that are debilitating due to their potent side effects (such as cancer therapy). This formula calms agitation ("vitiation") of all three doshas.