Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Withania somnifera (ashwagandha): a review.
Mishra LC, Singh BB, Dagenais S.
Los Angeles College of Chiropractic (LACC), 16200 E Amber Valley Dr., Whittier, CA 90609-1166. lakshmimishra@
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this paper is to review the literature regarding Withania somnifera (ashwagandha, WS) a commonly used herb in Ayurvedic medicine. Specifically, the literature was reviewed for articles pertaining to chemical properties, therapeutic benefits, and toxicity. 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, hemopoietic, and rejuvenating properties. 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. 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 other potential therapeutic effects. Clinical trials using ashwagandha for a variety of conditions should also be conducted.
The methodological approach employed in the second part of the study is one of comparing the psychological insights of two scholars of mysticism, William James and Evelyn Underhill, with a theory of personality development. The two theorists, William James and Evelyn Underhill, who have set the agenda for the psychological study of mysticism, provide different but complementary psychological analyses of the inner discord found in some mystics. James considers what he refers to as the divided self from the perspective of religious experience in general. The value of this approach is that it makes it possible to see the relationship between the mystical struggle and other forms of religious struggle. While there is an implicit process of development in James' exposition, Underhill describes an explicit model of mystical stages and locates the mystical struggle within the beginning stages. In addition Underhill provides an examination of the mystical response to the experience of inner division, ., the disciplines of asceticism and meditation.