Plant study

Withania somnifera, also known as Ashwagandha, Indian ginseng and Winter cherry, is commonly used as a domestic remedy for several diseases in India and other parts of the world. To investigate if there is any reality to the supposed benefits researchers have characterized the polyphenols present in extracts to determine if they have any antioxidant effect.

Withania somnifera, also known as Ashwagandha, Indian ginseng and Winter cherry, is commonly used as a domestic remedy for several diseases in India and other parts of the world. To investigate if there is any reality to the supposed benefits researchers have characterized the polyphenols present in extracts to determine if they have any antioxidant effect.1

Excessive free radical production is thought to be involved in a variety of chronic diseases, and plant-derived antioxidants are becoming increasingly significant as dietary factors for defending against them. In a study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, HPLC was used to characterize the polyphenols, including phenolic acids and flavonoids, in extracts of the plant’s roots, fruits and leaves. Their radical scavenging activates were then determined using spectrophotometric methods.

Eight polyphenols were identified in parts of the plant, with catechin found in the highest concentration. The study concluded that this supports the traditional claims with all parts providing potential benefits. The leaves were identified as particularly useful, containing the highest amounts of polyphenols and components exhibiting strong antioxidant properties.

1. N. Alam et al., BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 11(65) (2011).