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ISSN: 2329-8731
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Ashwagandha: Ancient Medicine for Modern Times

Abbas K Samadi*

Neutriomix, San Diego, CA, USA

*Corresponding Author:
Abbas K Samadi
Pathway Genomics, San Diego, CA, USA
E-mail: [email protected]

Received date: July 01, 2013; Accepted date: July 01, 2013; Published date: July 03, 2013

Citation: Samadi AK (2013) Ashwagandha: Ancient Medicine for Modern Times. J Anc Dis Prev Rem 1:e108. doi: 10.4172/2329-8731.1000e108

Copyright: © 2013 Samadi AK. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera Dunal) is a popular Indian medicinal plant and has been used for over 3000 years in Ayurvedic medicine to treat diverse range of diseases. Ashwagandha is a member of the class of herbs called rasayana, long prized for rejuvenating effects on health. It is believed that it assists body to respond appropriately to stressors, both acute and chronic [1]. The plant was first mentioned in English language text by Van Rheede in 1868, who described the use of its leavesin home ointments. Other parts of the Ashwagandha plant, including roots, shoots, seeds, and berries have also been used in daily tonics and various home remedy recipes to increase health and longevity [2]. The plant is a source of unique alkaloids and withanolides that have been shown to act as steroidal hormones and antioxidants with favorable impacts on human health [3]. Several recent studies have provided evidence for its anti-stress, antioxidant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, cardioprotective adaptogenic, anti spasmodic,immunomodulatory and immunostimulant activity [4-10].

Withaferin A (WA) is the most abundant compound in W. somnifera extract [11,12]. Recent studies reported that WA elicits strong anti-cancer activity in several cancer models. WA by specific binding to vimentin cytoskeleton protein promotes apoptosis of cancer cells [13-15]. A classical epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) protein, vimentin overexpression in cancer correlates with metastatic disease, induction of epithelial to mesenchymal transition and reduced patient survival. Several reports show increased expression of vimentin in invasive human tumors but are nearly undetectable in non-invasive, stationary tumors [16,17]. WA has vimentin-dependent proteosomal inhibitory activity that leads to anti-angiogenic effects [18-20]. Furthermore, WA induces apoptotic cell death and anti-tumor activity by targeting NF-κB [21-23], JAK-STAT [24], reactive oxygen species (ROS) activation [25,26], ROS-mediated autophagy [27], annexin [28], proteasome [29], Hsp90 [30-32], endoplasmic reticulum stress [33], RET protooncogene [34], Bcl-2 [26], and Par-4 tumor suppressor protein [35].

W. somnifera is one of the most important herbs used as a traditional remedy for several illnesses. Withanolides from W. somnifera inhibited the growth of human cancer cells. Therefore, it can be postulated that the consumption of W. somnifera leaves as a dietary supplement may prevent or decrease the growth of tumors in cancer patients as well as the formation of new tumors. Clinical trials using purified withanolides including WA as single therapy or in combination with standard cancer therapy is suggested.

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