Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) also known as “Indian Ginseng” is an ancient medicinal plant which has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. The extract of the Ashwagandha root has many biological effects due to its different phytochemicals. It can reduce anxiety & stress, help fight depression, boost brain function, is anti-tumor & also used to increase body immunity & also fertility in men. It is traditionally harvested in winter, dried, and ground into powder for medicinal purposes. Ashwagandha root powder is commonly used in herbal medicine, though many supplements use more concentrated Ashwagandha extracts instead. The major constituents of alcoholic extracts of Ashwagandha are steroidal alkaloids & lactones, known as withanolides.
Commercial value of Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha supplements are widely used across the globe. It has an estimated annual sales increase of 39% combined with global sales. While Ashwagandha holds a major historical value in India, interest in various health benefits has attracted international markets in Europe and North America. Several companies including UKPL are growing this plant with the farmers as this is highly powerful plant that supplies vital vitamins to the body thereby raising body immunity. Dietary supplements specifically have seen substantial growth in international markets.
Current growth can be determined by increased awareness of benefits, and various publishings that supported the clinical studies. Ashwagandha is native to India and widely distributed in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, South Africa, Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey. Ashwagandha is commercially cultivated in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujrat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, and Karnataka. In India, approximately 11000-hectares are used to grow Ashwagandha with an annual production of 8429 metric tons. Ashwagandha dried roots price varies from $1.0 1.2 / Kg. The roots of Ashwagandha are widely used as powder and for extracting the essence from dried roots. Many companies manufacture the root extract on their own, for an agreement which consists of the use of Ashwagandha for ayurvedic medicine. Ashwagandha is one of only four herbal ingredients to reach the top 40 mainstream-seller list to witness sales growth of over 40%. It is further predicted that the overall sales of Ashwagandha are likely to benefit from the consistent reputation of ingredients used in traditional medical systems of India. Modern research helps in building emerging interest amongst the international community which encourages suppliers to invest more in clinical research to examine what their ingredients can do. Agro-forestrical companies such as UKPL are working in this field with the farmers to promote the cultivation of superior germplasm of Ashwagandha for crop yield & quality to increase farm incomes.
Benefits based on market & health research
- Growth of herbal supplement ingredients like Ashwagandha achieved the highest sales of $12.4 million and growth of 16.9% in 2018 respectively. It became the 7th top-selling product due to its major health benefits regarding stress, anxiety, chronic diseases, sleep, and much more.
- Ashwagandha is an adaptogen that helps protect against the bad effects of stress on health by increasing the body’s immunity and endurance to stress. Unlike other medicines that work by agitating other body parts, adaptogens control multiple physiological processes at once to maintain the stability of the body. It helps to strengthen weaker systems and calms the overactive systems in our bodies. It also has a good response in terms of controlling negative psychological behaviors, energy expenditure, immunity, etc.
- VO2 max defines the body’s ability to transport oxygen for the whole body. It depends on the endurance of a particular body. As Ashwagandha improves cardiovascular fitness, it performs a major role in improving VO2 max levels in the body. It enhances the hemoglobin and red blood cells in human beings. Thus, making it easier to transport blood and oxygen to the muscles.
- It promotes optimal brain functioning, helps to reduce stress response, and protects cognitive health. Improvements can be seen in memory, focus, processing speed, and the ability to execute tasks faster.
- Adaptogenic herbs containing Ashwagandha are also useful in sexual health and fertility. It balances the hormone levels and also focuses on sustaining female sexual health. As chronic stress reflects negative effects on sexual health, this herb can help mitigate these effects.
- Many companies have already started to combine Ashwagandha’s benefits with other probiotics. It is examined that it helps to improve digestive health along with mood & stress levels. The connection between the stomach and brain is being researched, but it is considered that it can show more positive effects on human beings.
UKPL provides SOPs for medicinal plants including Ashwagandha. This company is working directly with farmers for assistance in plant stock, and quality staff for research and development. UKPL ensures proper coordination between farmers and various government and non-government organizations.