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Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera, is a flowering shrub grown throughout regions of India, China, Yemen and Nepal. Chemical extracts from the plant’s roots are used in Ayurvedic healing. Ashwagandha has been used for its stress reduction, concentration, and energy benefits. Some evidence has suggested its effectiveness in the treatment of diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, arthritis, parkinson’s disease, male infertility, and tumors. Clinical trials have found Ashwagandha to be safe and well tolerated when taken for a short period of time (1-2 months). There is limited evidence regarding long term safety and effectiveness of this substance in humans. Chemically, Ashwagandha has structural similarities to benzatropine and atropine, which have anticholinergic effects on the nervous system.

By Evan Redmond, Pharm.D.

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