Neuro-degenerative healing with “Withania Somnifera”
By Dr. Nishal R.
Withania Somnifera has been used for thousands of years by Ayurvedic Doctors for treating memory loss, metal fatigue, and other cognitive issues. It has also been used for conditions like tissue wasting, premature aging, sexual dysfunction, low immunity, asthma, cancer, depression, arthritis and anaemia. It is also known as a powerful rejuvenating herb. Its known to be adaptogenic, meaning it counteracts the effects of stress, wear and tear, and degenerative effects of daily living. It is considered to be “anabolic” in nature due to its steroidal content (Withanolides and Withanosides). The fact that the drug is mildly sedating AND treats neurological disorders makes it evident that this drug works directly on nerve tissue and scientific research has proven so.
Research, studies, and lab experiments have shown the following:
– Human study: Individuals taking daily doses of Withania Somnifera scored higher on tests for logical thinking and problem solving. (1)
– Laboratory Rats: When Withania Somnifera was administered to chronically-stressed rats, the number of degenerated brain cells was 80% less than in rats not receiving the treatment. (2)
– Animal studies: Withania Somnifera may possess the ability reverse the cognitive deficits due to reduced acetylcholine levels within two weeks of treatment. (3)
– In vitro and in vivo animal studies: Withania Somnifera could possibly help in the regeneration of damaged nerve cells in the brain by reconstructing damaged portions of nerve cells which has the function of inter-cellular communication. (4)
Without going to deep into the scientific details, basically, Withania Somnifera contains Choline, which is responsible for forming Acetylcholine, a neuro-transmitter which is found to be deficient in the brains of people with memory loss and difficuly in learning. In this big mess, patients of Alzheimers also have plaque formations in their brains which are the result of free radicals. These free radicals are counteracted by the anti-oxidants present in Withania Somnifera. And to add to this, it possible aids in regeneration of damaged nerve cells.
Put this scientific evidence and theories together with five thousand or more years of clinical success with this herb in neuro-degenerative disorders and one can make the safe assumption or rather, infer than this herb definitely has promising results.
Sida Cordifolia, aka “bala” in Ayurveda. It is also an anabolic herb used in degenerative conditions and is prescribed by many Ayurvedic physicians. It is commonly used as a medicated enema. The rectum is known to be the quickest root to the nervous system, therefore rectal administration of a neurologically supportive agent such as Sida Cordifolia can be quite effective in treating Alzheimers disease and other neurological conditions of both degenerative nature as well as hyperactivity.
Licorice Root aka “Yashtimadhu” in Ayurveda. It has been mentioned in the ancient Ayurvedic text “Charaka Samhita” that Licorice root powder mixed with milk is “medhya” meaning “wholesome for mental faculties” It is also used as a immune booster and anabolic booster. Licorice root is used in an Ayurvedic procedure known as “Nasya” aka “Nasal instillation”. This procedure is used to directly treat the brain.
Nardostachys Jatamansi, is another drug used for the purpose of regenerating nerve tissue as well as the brain overall.
Other common herbs for treating neurological conditions are:
Written by Dr. Nishal R.
Copyright © 2015
References: 1. Chopra, Deepak and Simon, David. The Chopra Center Herbal Handbook: Forty Natural Prescriptions for Perfect Health. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2000. ISBN 0609803905, 9780609803905.
2. Jain, S., et al. Phytother Res. 15(6):Neuroprotective effects of Withania somnifera Dunn. in hippocampal sub-regions of female albino rat. [Online] September 2001. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11536389.
3. Vohora, Divya Shangari and Mishra, Lakshmi Chandra. Alzheimer’s Disease. [ed.] Lakshmi C. Mishra. Scientific basis for Ayurvedic therapies. Boca Raton: CRC Press LLC, 2004, 23. ISBN 0-8493-1366-X.
4. Kuboyama, Tomoharu, Tohda, Chihiro and Komatsu, Katsuko. Br J Pharmacol.144(7): Neuritic regeneration and synaptic reconstruction induced by withanolide A. PubMed: U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. [Online] April 2005. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1576076/?tool=pubmed. DOI 10.1038/sj.bjp.0706122.
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