Botanical Name: withania somnifera

Other Names: Winter cherry, Indian ginseng

Description: a small woody shrub resembling eggplant. It has yellow/green flowers yielding small orange/red berries in the fall. The leaves are dull green and oval-shaped. Native to Africa, India and the Mediterranean, ashwagandha prefers dry, subtropical climates.  Ashwa means horse and gandha means smell. Its Sanskrit name loosely translates to “horse essence, suggesting strength & stamina.

Family: Solanaceae

Parts Used: primarily the root, but leaves, seeds and fruit also have history of topical use

Energetics: warming, dry, sweet, bitter, pungent

Actions: calming adaptogen, reproductive tonic, aphrodisiac, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, anxiolytic, immunomodulatory, thermogenic, antitussive, galactagogue, sedative, stimulant

Uses: In Ayurveda, ashwagandha is a Rasayana, or a rejuvenative tonic that promotes longevity and overall wellness. Ashwagandha promotes memory and cognition, protects against neurodegenerative disorders, and boosts GABA, promoting neural growth and repair. It is high in iron and can build blood when there is deficiency. It nourishes ojas, increasing sperm count and libido. And it directly nourishes the thyroid gland, making it useful for hypo-thyroid conditions. It calms you down while giving you more energy, helpful for when people have insomnia due to adrenal fatigue. It regulates sleep cycles over time and facilitates a more restful sleep in the long-term. As an immunomodulatory, it can strengthen a weak immune response or calm down a hyper immune response.

Indications: general debility, low libido & fertility, nervous exhaustion, convalescence, arthritis, anxiety, insomnia, neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis), loss of memory, loss of muscle, tissue deficiency, autoimmune conditions effecting the muscles & joints (rheumatoid arthritis), iron-deficiency, hypothyroid, general tonic for graceful aging.

Contraindications: Ashwagandha is generally safe when used as recommended, though large doses have been known to cause gastrointestinal upset and have abortifacient effects. Ashwagandha can be stimulating to some; do not try it for the first time before bedtime. Because of its heavy & anabolic properties, it is contraindicated for states of high ama/severe congestion.

Preparation & Dosage:  Traditional Ayurvedic preparations combine the powdered root with ghee, warm milk or honey. Standard dosage is 3-6 grams/day of powder. KP Khalsa recommends 10 g a day to promote a restful sleep. As a tincture, 2 ml , 2-4 times a day. 1 tsp twice daily of herbal ghee or honey.

Turkey Tail Mushroom

(Trametes versicolor)
Turkey tail is a common sight in the forests of West Virginia and woodlands worldwide. Its fruiting body is typically 2-4 inches wide. The top surface has concentric rings of varying colors, which resemble the shape and color of the wild turkey tails, thus the name. Its flesh is thin and leathery, and the bottom surface is whitish to light brown.

Family: Polyporaceae

Names: Yun-Zhi, Kawarate

Parts Used: fruiting body

Energetics: bitter, salty, neutral

Actions: tonic, adaptogen, immunomodulator, anti-tumor, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant

Uses & Indications: In Japan and China, turkey tail preparations are used as an adjuvant therapy in conjunction with conventional cancer treatments such chemotherapy and radiation to treat cancer. Compounds in turkey tail and other mushrooms have been found to activate the immune cells, which enable the host to fight cancer cells. Notably, the increase in cancer-free survival was among patients with esophageal, stomach, and lung cancers. Turkey tail has also been studied in breast cancer patients. A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health among breast cancer patients suggests that turkey tail may correct radiotherapy-related immune system defects. The patients in the study exhibited enhanced lymphocyte numbers and increased tumoricidal (tumor-killing) effect of the natural killer cells. It is postulated that relapse after primary breast cancer treatment may be related to the innate and adaptive immune system defects, which may be offset by the use of turkey tail, making this a useful remedy for both breast cancer patients and breast cancer survivors (2).

Contraindications: none known

Dosage: In clinical trials a dose ranges from 3 to 9 grams per day of an enzymatically processed turkey tail extract were used for prevention. About 25 g or approximately 1 ounce of shredded or powdered fruiting body in a decoction is taken before meals twice a day or 2 grams per day of powdered water-based extract (3).

1. Lindequist, Ulrike, Timo HJ Niedermeyer, and Wolf-Dieter Jülich. “The pharmacological potential of mushrooms.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2.3 (2005): 285-299.
2. Torkelson, Carolyn J., et al. “Phase 1 clinical trial of Trametes versicolor in women with breast cancer.” ISRN oncology 2012 (2012).
3. Hobbs C. Mushroom medicine: challenges and potential. Journal of the American Herbalists Guild. 2014; 12(2):9-13.

**This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease**

This month, in celebration of medicinal mushrooms and their immune-supportive properties, we are offering 10% off of our immune-building broth packets with shiitake (in store & online). We are also offering 10% off of our Host Defense Mushroom capsules including Chaga, Cordyceps, Reishi, Turkey Tail and Lion’s Mane (in-store only)