Siberian ginseng and withania are herbs with a long history of use in Chinese and Indian medicine. Other names for Siberian ginseng include devil's root and devil's shrub. Withania is commonly called ashwagandha. In herbal supplements, the roots of both plants are used, and they may be marketed as pills or tinctures. Some herbal compounds contain combinations of Siberian ginseng, withania and other herbs.
Siberian ginseng has been used for centuries to promote physical and mental health. It is believed to improve memory and reduce the effects of fatigue on the mind and body. It is used in Chinese medicine to treat kidney and liver problems, as well as rheumatism. Other traditional uses of Siberian ginseng include treating symptoms of menopause, curing anxiety-related insomnia, improving athletic performance and increasing male fertility and sexual stamina.
Withania's traditional uses are similar to Asian ginseng's. In Indian and Chinese medicine it is believed to improve memory, boost immunity and increase longevity. It is also used to increase male fertility and reduce the effects of mental and environmental stress.
Siberian Ginseng Benefits
Clinical studies strongly suggest that Siberian ginseng is good for your cardiovascular system. It contains antioxidants that prevent buildup of cholesterol in heart and brain tissue. Research also suggests that people with type two diabetes can use Siberian ginseng before and after meals to lower blood sugar levels. The University of Maryland Medical Center points out that Siberian ginseng extracts help to boost the immune system and shorten the duration of colds and flu. A preliminary study showed that the herb can also reduce the severity and duration of genital herpes outbreaks.
According to the journal Alternative Medicine Review, numerous studies on the chemical constituents of withania indicate that the herb has many potential benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties, anti-tumor properties and the ability to reduce the effects of stress on the body. The Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center points to several in-vitro studies that show withania can reduce or inhibit tumor growth, and it enhances the effects of radiation therapy on cells. Other studies cite withania's potential to increase male fertility by improving sperm quality and motility. Research on the drug is ongoing, however, and studies on humans are rare.
Withania and Siberian ginseng have few short-term side effects, but their long-term effects have not been studied extensively. Both Siberian ginseng and withania can increase the effects of sedatives and barbiturates, so you should never take them together. Siberian ginseng can also interact with blood thinning medications, some heart medications and it can raise or lower blood sugar. Pregnant and lactating women should consult their physicians before taking any Siberian ginseng or withania supplements.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Siberian Ginseng
- Alternative Medicine Review: Scientific Basis for the Therapeutic Use of Withania Somnifera
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: Ashwagandha
- Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Withania somnifera Improves Semen Quality in Stress-Related Male Fertility
- Alternative Medicine Review: Ancient Medicine, Modern Use