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The Effects of Withania & Siberian Ginseng

by
author image Sarah Metzker Erdemir
Sarah Metzker Erdemir is an expat writer and ESL teacher living in Istanbul since 2002. A fiction writer for more than 25 years, she began freelance writing and editing in 2000. Ms. Metzker Erdemir holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in Romance languages and linguistics as well as a TESOL Master of Arts degree. She has written articles for eHow, Garden Guides, and ConnectEd.
The Effects of Withania & Siberian Ginseng
The leaves of Siberian ginseng on the branch. Photo Credit np-e07/iStock/Getty Images

Overview

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.

Traditional Uses

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.

Withania Benefits

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.

Side Effects

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.

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