Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Withania somnifera (ashwagandha): a review.
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. (+info)
Effect of Withania somnifera root extract on the sexual behaviour of male rats.
AIM: To determine the effect of a methanolic extract of Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal roots on sexual competence of male rats. METHODS: Male rats were orally administered 3000 mg.kg-1.day-1 of root extract for 7 days. Their sexual behaviour was evaluated 7 days prior to treatment, day 3 and 7 of treatment, and day 7, 14 and 30 post-treatment by pairing each male with a receptive female. RESULTS: The root extract induced a marked impairment in libido, sexual performance, sexual vigour, and penile erectile dysfunction. These effects were partly reversible on cessation of treatment. These antimasculine effects are not due to changes in testosterone levels or toxicity but may be attributed to hyperprolactinemic, GABAergic, serotonergic or sedative activities of the extract. CONCLUSION: Use of W. somnifera roots may be detrimental to male sexual competence. (+info)
Increasing evidence supports the role of excitotoxicity in neuronal cell injury. Thus, it is extremely important to explore methods to retard or reverse excitotoxic neuronal injury. In this regard, certain dietary compounds are beginning to receive increased attention, in particular those involving phytochemicals found in medicinal plants in alleviating neuronal injury. In the present study, we examined whether medicinal plant extracts protect neurons against excitotoxic lesions induced by kainic acid (KA) in female Swiss albino mice. Mice were anesthetized with ketamine and xylazine (200 mg and 2 mg/kg body wt. respectively) and KA (0.25 microg in a volume of 0.5 microl) was administered to mice by intra hippocampal injections. The results showed an impairment of the hippocampus region of brain after KA injection. The lipid peroxidation and protein carbonyl content were significantly (P < 0.05) increased in comparison to controls. Glutathione peroxidase (GPx) activity (EC 18.104.22.168) and reduced glutathione (GSH) content declined after appearance of excitotoxic lesions. As GPx and GSH represent a major pathway in the cell for metabolizing hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), their depletion would be expected to allow H2O2 to accumulate to toxic levels. Dried ethanolic plant extracts of Withania somnifera (WS), Convolvulus pleuricauas (CP) and Aloe vera (AV) dissolved in distilled water were tested for their total antioxidant activity. The diet was prepared in terms of total antioxidant activity of plant extracts. The iron (Fe3+) reducing activity of plant extracts was also tested and it was found that WS and AV were potent reductants of Fe3+ at pH 5 5. CP had lower Fe3+ reducing activity in comparison to WS and AV. Plant extracts given singly and in combination 3 weeks prior to KA injections resulted in a decrease in neurotoxicity. Measures of lipid peroxidation and protein carbonyl declined. GPx activity and GSH content were elevated in hippocampus supplemented with WS and combination of WS + CP + AV. However, when CP and AV were given alone, the changes in the GPx activity and GSH content were not significant. Although the major factors involved in these properties of phytochemicals remain to be specified, the finding of this study has suggested that phytochemicals present in plant extracts mitigate the effects of excitotoxicity and oxidative damage in hippocampus and this might be accomplished by their antioxidative properties. (+info)
Cholinesterase inhibiting withanolides from Withania somnifera.
A total of two new (1, 2) and four known (3-6) withanolides were isolated from the whole plant of Withania somnifera. Their structures were elucidated on the basis of spectroscopic techniques and were characterized as 6alpha,7alpha-epoxy-3beta,5alpha,20beta-trihydroxy-1-oxowitha-24-enolide (1), 5beta,6beta-epoxy-4beta,17alpha,27-trihydroxy-1-oxowitha-2,24-dienolide (2), withaferin-A (3), 2,3-dihydrowithaferin-A (4), 6alpha,7alpha-epoxy-5alpha,20beta-dihydroxy-1-oxowitha-2,24-dienolide (5), and 5beta,6beta-epoxy-4beta-hydroxy-1-oxowitha-2,14,24-trienolide (6), respectively. Compounds 2, 3, 5, and 6 displayed inhibitory potential against butyrylcholinesterase, but only compounds 3, 4, and 6 were found to be active against acetylcholinesterase. (+info)
Neuritic regeneration and synaptic reconstruction induced by withanolide A.
We investigated whether withanolide A (WL-A), isolated from the Indian herbal drug Ashwagandha (root of Withania somnifera), could regenerate neurites and reconstruct synapses in severely damaged neurons. We also investigated the effect of WL-A on memory-deficient mice showing neuronal atrophy and synaptic loss in the brain. Axons, dendrites, presynapses, and postsynapses were visualized by immunostaining for phosphorylated neurofilament-H (NF-H), microtubule-associated protein 2 (MAP2), synaptophysin, and postsynaptic density-95 (PSD-95), respectively. Treatment with A beta(25-35) (10 microM) induced axonal and dendritic atrophy, and pre- and postsynaptic loss in cultured rat cortical neurons. Subsequent treatment with WL-A (1 microM) induced significant regeneration of both axons and dendrites, in addition to the reconstruction of pre- and postsynapses in the neurons. WL-A (10 micromol kg(-1) day(-1), for 13 days, p.o.) recovered A beta(25-35)-induced memory deficit in mice. At that time, the decline of axons, dendrites, and synapses in the cerebral cortex and hippocampus was almost recovered. WL-A is therefore an important candidate for the therapeutic treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, as it is able to reconstruct neuronal networks. (+info)
Effect of Brazilian, Indian, Siberian, Asian, and North American ginseng on serum digoxin measurement by immunoassays and binding of digoxin-like immunoreactive components of ginseng with Fab fragment of antidigoxin antibody (Digibind).
We compared Brazilian, Indian, Siberian, Asian, and North American ginseng for potential interference with 3 digoxin immunoassays: fluorescence polarization (FPIA), microparticle enzyme (MEIA), and Tina-quant (Roche Diagnostics, Indianapolis, IN). We supplemented aliquots of a drug-free serum pool with ginseng extracts representing expected in vivo concentrations and overdose. We observed apparent digoxin-like immunoreactivity with FPIA, modest immunoreactivity with MEIA, and no apparent digoxin immunoreactivity with the Tina-quant with all ginsengs except Brazilian, which showed no immunoreactivity with any assay. When aliquots of serum pools prepared from patients receiving digoxin were supplemented with ginsengs, we observed falsely elevated digoxin values with FPIA, falsely lower digoxin values (negative interference) with MEIA, and no interference with the Tina-quant. Digoxin-like immunoreactive components of various ginsengs have moderate protein binding; monitoring free digoxin concentrations does not eliminate such interference. We also observed that Digibind (Burroughs Wellcome, Research Triangle Park, NC) can bind free digoxin-like immunoreactive components of ginsengs; such effects can be monitored by measuring apparent free digoxin concentrations. Indian, Asian, and North American ginsengs interfere with serum digoxin measurement by FPIA and MEIA; the Tina-quant is free of such interference. Digibind can bind free digoxin-like immunoreactive components of ginseng. (+info)
Withanolides potentiate apoptosis, inhibit invasion, and abolish osteoclastogenesis through suppression of nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) activation and NF-kappaB-regulated gene expression.
The plant Withania somnifera Dunal (Ashwagandha), also known as Indian ginseng, is widely used in the Ayurvedic system of medicine to treat tumors, inflammation, arthritis, asthma, and hypertension. Chemical investigation of the roots and leaves of this plant has yielded bioactive withanolides. Earlier studies showed that withanolides inhibit cyclooxygenase enzymes, lipid peroxidation, and proliferation of tumor cells. Because several genes that regulate cellular proliferation, carcinogenesis, metastasis, and inflammation are regulated by activation of nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB), we hypothesized that the activity of withanolides is mediated through modulation of NF-kappaB activation. For this report, we investigated the effect of the withanolide on NF-kappaB and NF-kappaB-regulated gene expression activated by various carcinogens. We found that withanolides suppressed NF-kappaB activation induced by a variety of inflammatory and carcinogenic agents, including tumor necrosis factor (TNF), interleukin-1beta, doxorubicin, and cigarette smoke condensate. Suppression was not cell type specific, as both inducible and constitutive NF-kappaB activation was blocked by withanolides. The suppression occurred through the inhibition of inhibitory subunit of IkappaB alpha kinase activation, IkappaB alpha phosphorylation, IkappaB alpha degradation, p65 phosphorylation, and subsequent p65 nuclear translocation. NF-kappaB-dependent reporter gene expression activated by TNF, TNF receptor (TNFR) 1, TNFR-associated death domain, TNFR-associated factor 2, and IkappaB alpha kinase was also suppressed. Consequently, withanolide suppressed the expression of TNF-induced NF-kappaB-regulated antiapoptotic (inhibitor of apoptosis protein 1, Bfl-1/A1, and FADD-like interleukin-1beta-converting enzyme-inhibitory protein) and metastatic (cyclooxygenase-2 and intercellular adhesion molecule-1) gene products, enhanced the apoptosis induced by TNF and chemotherapeutic agents, and suppressed cellular TNF-induced invasion and receptor activator of NF-kappaB ligand-induced osteoclastogenesis. Overall, our results indicate that withanolides inhibit activation of NF-kappaB and NF-kappaB-regulated gene expression, which may explain the ability of withanolides to enhance apoptosis and inhibit invasion and osteoclastogenesis. (+info)
Withaferin a strongly elicits IkappaB kinase beta hyperphosphorylation concomitant with potent inhibition of its kinase activity.
The transcription factor NFkappaB plays a critical role in normal and pathophysiological immune responses. Therefore, NFkappaB and the signaling pathways that regulate its activation have become a major focus of drug development programs. Withania somnifera (WS) is a medicinal plant that is widely used in Palestine for the treatment of various inflammatory disorders. In this study we show that the leave extract of WS, as well as its major constituent withaferin A (WA), potently inhibits NFkappaB activation by preventing the tumor necrosis factor-induced activation of IkappaB kinase beta via a thioalkylation-sensitive redox mechanism, whereas other WS-derived steroidal lactones, such as withanolide A and 12-deoxywithastramonolide, are far less effective. To our knowledge, this is the first communication of IkappaB kinase beta inhibition by a plant-derived inhibitor, coinciding with MEK1/ERK-dependent Ser-181 hyperphosphorylation. This prevents IkappaB phosphorylation and degradation, which subsequently blocks NFkappaB translocation, NFkappaB/DNA binding, and gene transcription. Taken together, our results indicate that pure WA or WA-enriched WS extracts can be considered as a novel class of NFkappaB inhibitors, which hold promise as novel anti-inflammatory agents for treatment of various inflammatory disorders and/or cancer. (+info)