Sleeping pills, Ashwagandha – Withánia somnífera (L.) Dunal (named after an unknown person in 1825; Latin somnifer, fera, ferum – bringing sleep from somnus – sleep, ferre – bring). Perennial branched shrub from the nightshade family – Solanaceae.
The lower leaves are alternate, and the upper ones are opposite, petiolate, dark green, elliptical, with reticular venation, wavy edge and pointed apex.
Flowers are yellowish-green in color with an unpleasant, pungent odor, collected 3-6 in leaf axils.
The fruit is a red berry. The whole plant is pressed down.
Distributed widely from southern Europe to India and Africa. Cultivated in India.
Roots and leaves are used as medicinal raw materials.
Alkaloids of the tropane group (3-α-tigloyloxytropane), as well as anagigrin, anaferin, cuscohygrin, isopelletierin, and tropin were found in the roots. Anaferin and anagigrin are related to the alkaloid isopelletierin, a piperidine derivative.
Steroid lactones – vitanolides – were isolated from the leaves.
Sleeping pills are used in Asian medicine and in the UK as a tonic, astringent and adaptogenic agent. Roots are included in the Indian Pharmacopoeia. In traditional medicine, India is used as a narcotic and diuretic.
Fruits are used as emetic and in small doses as a remedy for dyspepsia resulting from chronic diseases, as well as a diuretic and increasing metabolic processes in the body.
Also, the fruits of Vitania were used for coagulation of milk in the production of cheese (they have high proteolytic activity).