WITHANIA SOMNIFERA (L.) Dunal.

Family: Solanaceae

Bengali/Vernacular Name: Aswagandha, Chota Dhuppa.

English Name: Winter Cherry.

Description of the Plant:
An erect herbaceous undershrub, 0.5-1.5 m high; branches terete, hoary tomentose. Leaves 5-10 cm long, ovate, subacute, entire, stellately pubescent. Flowers greenish or lurid yellow, usually about 5 together in a sessile or subsessile umbellate cymes; corolla 8 mm long. Berry red, smooth, 6 mm diam., enclosed in the inflated calyx, which reaches more than 2.5 cm diam.

Using information:
Roots are tonic, alterative, diuretic and aphrodisiac; it has extensive use in all cases of general debility, consumption, senile debility, rheumatism, nervous tension, loss of memory and muscular energy; useful in psoriasis, bronchitis, asthma, hiccup, scabies, marasmus of children. They are also used in the treatment of headaches, convulsions, sleeplessness and insufficient breast milk. Juice of the root is used in seminal weakness and mouth sores; decoction is administered to tone up the uterus in women who habitually miscarry. Bruised leaves and ground roots are used as a local application to painful swellings, carbuncles and ulcers. The leaves are used for healing sores, and its infusion in fevers. Fruits are diuretic. Seeds are hypnotic, diuretic and used for coagulating milk.

Oral administration of the plant extract produced significant anti-inflammatory effect on chronic inflammatory reaction in rats. Alkoholic extract of the root and withaferin A show significant anti-tumour activity (Ghani, 2003). Total alkaloidal fraction of root extract showed prolonged hypotensive, bradycardiac and respiratory stimulant activities in dogs (Rastogi & Mehrotra, 1993).


Withenia Somnifera
WITHANIA SOMNIFERA (L.) Dunal.


Chemical constituents:
The plant is very rich in tropane alkaloids and steroidal lactone, withanolides. Roots contain tropine, pseudotropine, tigloyloxytropine, choline, anaferine, pellectierine, isopelletierine, anahygrine and cuscohygrine. Root also contain nicotine, somnigerine, somniferinine, withamine, withananine, pseudowithanine, withaferin A and B, withasomidienone, sominone, sominolide, β-sitosterol, sugar and acidic compounds. Five new withanolides, namely withasomnilide, somniferawithanolide, withasomniferabolide, somniferanolide and somniwithanolide, have been isolated from the stem bark (Ghani, 2003). Nine new withanolides E to M have been isolated from leaves. Another withanolides WS-1 has been isolated from seeds (Rastogi & Mehrotra, 1993). Leaves also contain 8 steroidal lactones, somnitol, glucose, inorganic salts and new compounds – withanone and withaferin A along with its dihydro derivative (Rastogi & Mehrotra, 1990).

Distribution:
North Bengal.


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Retutn from WITHANIA SOMNIFERA to Medicinal Plants: Part W-X