Organic Ashwagandha Powder
- Certified Organic by Organic Food Federation
- Known as Indian Ginseng
- Perfect Nighttime Drink Mixed in Hot Milk
The ashwagandha plant, scientifically known as Withania somnifera is a drought-resistant herb whose roots are traced to the Indian subcontinent. The plant, which gives rise to ashwagandha powder, is also referred to by more titles which include Indian Ginseng, Indian winter cherry, and poison gooseberry. Ashwagandha is a Sanskrit term that is formed from two names, ‘Ashwa’ and ‘Gandha’. Ashwa refers to a horse while Gandha refers to smell. The term, therefore, means “that which smells like a horse”. The term used to describe the strong smell the roots of this plant possessed. Ashwagandha is a shrub that grows to approximately 1.3-1.5m in height. The leaves of the Ashwagandha herb are light green in colour and have an oval shape. Its flowers are yellow in colour and they produce tiny red fruits. Its roots are long, brownish, and tuberous in nature. The roots are the most important part of the herb as they are normally dried and ground into Ashwagandha powder. The roots contain volatile oils referred to as alkaloids, and withanolides. These oils are in higher concentrations than in any other part of the plant.
Ashwagandha is commonly referred to as “Indian Ginseng” in the Indian market even though there is no relation between them. This is because it works similarly to its Chinese counterpart ‘Panax Ginseng’. Ashwagandha is classified under the family Solanaceae and the genus ‘Withania’. Tomatoes also belong to the same family as Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is a tough crop with the ability to thrive in the harshest of conditions where other crops would normally die off. Ashwagandha can be planted in loam soils or light red soils that are alkaline and drain properly. They also require low to average amounts of rainfall when they are being cultivated and an extended dry period when they are growing. Temperatures should range from 21-37°c, although they can survive in slightly lower temperatures. The onset of the monsoon season marks the beginning of sowing seeds. The seed spacing is very crucial in determining the quality of the harvest. Closely spacing seedlings will lead to poor yields. Spacing them too wide will result in roots that are too thick to produce a uniformly ground powder.
Harvesting is carried out roughly 6 months later. The ashwagandha root has a relatively short shelf life therefore it is usually preserved to prevent it from spoiling quickly. This is done by drying in an open place or field with access to sufficient sunlight. Recently, other methods such as microwave drying and convective drying have come, but natural drying remains the most effective.
Ashwagandha was first mentioned at around 6000BC. It has been largely mentioned in ancient historical texts. Those who used it believed that their bodies were restored to their prior forms whenever they took the powder. The plant was popularised by Punarvasu Atreya, a highly revered Hindu sage and personal doctor of the king. He gave the powder to the king for it to serve as a remedy for any mishaps within the body. Some African tribes also used Ashwagandha in ceremonials soups and cuisines. They believed that it would help them not catch colds. Also, natives in Yemen dried the root and applied the powder on their skin.
- Please note it is against MHRA guidelines for us to talk about any potential health benefits for this supplement however a quick google search on the potential benefits and you may be surprised.