Withania somnifera: Use for Skin Disease

  • Anand A. Zanwar
  • Sachin L. BadoleEmail author
  • Rashmi Saini
Part of the Nutrition and Health book series (NH)


Withania somnifera (W. somnifera) is popularly known as Ashwagandha. It is a herbal drug from the Indian system of medicine. W. somnifera is an official drug mentioned in the Indian Pharmacopoeia. Of all parts of this plant, the root has been considered to be the most active for therapeutic purposes. The major pharmacological activity of the plant is attributed to the presence of several alkaloids and withaniols. Roots are prescribed in medicines for hiccup, several female disorders, bronchitis, rheumatism, dropsy, stomach and lung inflammations and skin diseases. W. somnifera was found to be effective in prevention of skin carcinoma in UV B radiation-exposed animals, DMBA-induced carcinogenesis and in long-term tumorigenesis. A toxicological study showed that W. somnifera is nontoxic in a wide range of reasonable doses.


Ashwagandha Carcinogenesis Withania somnifera Skin cancer 


  1. 1.
    Kapoor VK, Dureja J, Chadha R. Herbals in the control of ageing. Drug Discov Today. 2009;14:992–8. doi: 10.1016/j.drudis.2009.06.014.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Davis L, Kuttan G. Immunomodulatory activity of Withania somnifera. J Ethnopharmacol. 2000;71:193–200.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Joy PP, Thomas J, Mathew S, Skaria BP. Medicinal plants. In: Bose TK, Das KP, Joy PP, editors. Tropical horticulture, vol. 2. Calcutta: Naya Prokash; 2001. p. 54–5.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Nadkarni AK. In: Indian Materia Medica. 3rd ed. Volume 1. Bombay: Popular Book Depot; 1987. p. 1292–1294.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Buddhiraja RD, Sudhir S. Review of biological activity of withanolides. J Sci Ind Res. 1987;46:488–91.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Rasool M, Varalakshmi P. Immunomodulatory role of Withania somnifera root powder on experimental induced inflammation: an in vivo and in vitro study. Vascul Pharmacol. 2006;44:406–10.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Davis L, Kuttan G. Effect of Withania somnifera on DMBA induced carcinogenesis. J Ethnopharmacol. 2001;75:165–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Hamza A, Amin A, Daoud S. The protective effect of a purified extract of Withania somnifera against doxorubicin-induced cardiac toxicity in rats. Cell Biol Toxicol. 2008;24:63–73.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Mathur S, Kaur P, Sharma M, Katyal A, Singh B, Tiwari M, Chandra R. The treatment of skin carcinoma, induced by UV B radiation, using 1-oxo-5beta, 6beta-epoxy-witha-2-enolide, isolated from the roots of Withania somnifera, in a rat model. Phytomedicine. 2004;11:452–6.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Prakash J, Gupta SK, Dinda AK. Withania somnifera root extract prevents DMBA-induced squamous cell carcinoma of skin in Swiss albino mice. Nutr Cancer. 2002;42:91–7.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Padmavathi B, Rath PC, Rao AR, Singh RP. Roots of Withania somnifera inhibit forestomach and skin carcinogenesis in mice. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2005;2:99–105.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Aphale AA, Chhibba AD, Kumbhakarna NR, Mateenuddin M, Dahat SH. Subacute toxicity study of the combination of ginseng (Panax ginseng) and ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in rats: a safety assessment. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 1998;42:299–302.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Dahanukar SA, Kulkarni RA, Rege NN. Pharmacology of medicinal plants and natural products. Indian J Pharmacol. 2000;32:S81–118.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Monograph Withania somnifera. Alternative medicine review, Thorne Research, Inc. 2004;9(2):211–14.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anand A. Zanwar
    • 1
  • Sachin L. Badole
    • 2
    Email author
  • Rashmi Saini
    • 3
  1. 1.Interactive Research School for Health AffairsBharati Vidyapeeth UniversityDhankawadi, PuneIndia
  2. 2.Department of PharmacologyPE Society’s Modern College of PharmacyNigadi, PuneIndia
  3. 3.Molecular Biology Laboratory, Center of Hematology and Hemotherapy-HEMOCENTROUniversity of Campinas (UNICAMP)CampinasBrazil

Personalised recommendations