OBJECTIVE: The objective of this paper is to review the literature regarding Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) a commonly used herb in Ayurvedic medicine. Specifically, the literature was reviewed for articles pertaining to therapeutic actions, toxicity and benefits of Ashwagandha than performance enhancing substances (PES) in sports medicine. DESIGN: This review is in a narrative format and consists of all publications relevant to Ashwagandha that were identified by the authors through a systematic search of major computerized medical databases; no statistical pooling of results or evaluation of the quality of the studies was performed due to the widely different methods employed by each study. RESULTS: Studies indicate Ashwagandha possesses anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antistress, antioxidant, immunomodulatory, hemopoetic, adaptogenic and rejuvenating properties. It also appears to exert a positive influence on the endocrine, cardiopulmonary, and central nervous systems. Toxicity studies reveal that ashwagandha appears to be a safe compound whereas other performance enhancing substances have lot of side effects. CONCLUSION: Preliminary studies have found various constituents of ashwagandha exhibit a variety of therapeutic effects with little or no associated toxicity. These results are very encouraging and indicate this herb should be studied more extensively to confirm these results and reveal its benefits than other performance enhanacing substances.
Key Words: Ashwagandha, performance enhancing substances, adaptogens
Authors: Sachin, Pooja Dogra, Mehak Thanoch & N P Singh