Asgand (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal - A prophylactic and immune-modulator AYUSH-Unani botanical drug

Dr Mohd Kashif Husain


Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal is a valuable plant of family Solanaceae, which is commonly known as Asgand
in Unani system of medicine (Tibb-e-Unani). The plant is found throughout the drier parts of India and other
parts of the world. The main drug component comprises of the roots that is used for its therapeutic actions either
singly or as an ingredient in compound formulations. Asgand is well described in Unani classics as Musakkin
(sedative), Muqawwi (tonic) Muhallil-e-waram (anti-inflammatory), Muaddil (alterative), and Muqawwi-e-Bah
(aphrodisiac). In Unani system, it is prescribed for rheumatism, gynecological disorders, cough, hiccup dropsy,
and as a sedative in cases of senile debility. Studies indicate that the pharmacological activities of the root and
leaf are attributed to the presence of several alkaloids and steroidal lactones including withanine, somniferine,
somnine, and somniferinine. Leaves contain a group of (nearly twelve) “Withanolides†including “Withaferin-Aâ€
with antibiotic and anti-tumor activity. Asgand possesses anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anxiolytic, adaptogenic,
memory enhancing, antiparkinsonian, and antitumor properties. Several other effects such as immuno-modulation,
cardiovascular protection, hypolipidemic, antibacterial, and sexual behavior, tolerance have also been studied. In
conventional Unani system, enhancing immunity with immune-boosters is one of the key approaches for prevention
of disease and maintenance of health. An attempt has been made in this review to explore the various dimensions
of the drug viz; morphological, pharmacological, chemical studies and more specifically the therapeutic actions,
uses and Unani perspective of Asgand in the time of Covid-19.

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