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Herbal Spotlight: Withania

Herbal Spotlight: Withania

17 September 2020

What is Withania?

You may have heard of the herb called Withania: also known as Withania Somnifera, Winter Cherry, Ashwaganda, or Indian Ginseng. At MIOG, it is one of our most commonly used herbs and for good reason. 

Withania is commonly used as an adaptogen, which is a trendy buzz word these days. An adaptogen is a herb or plant based medicine that helps to modulate the body's stress response, ie it helps you adapt to stress. In addition to being an adaptogenic herb, Withania is also used for cognitive enhancement, as an antioxidant, as an anti-inflammatory agent, for immune system support, and as an anticancer herb. Wowsa!

Withania as an Adaptogen

Why do we keep banging on about stress management? Well, stress is an important trigger of the cancer process... and stress is a consequence of the cancer process! It has the potential to become a vicious cycle. Implementation of support to reduce stress is essential.

In clinic we often see patients who are currently undergoing treatment, or are pre or post surgery or in recovery. These are all times of acute physical stress. Now add to that the stress of a cancer diagnosis, as well as other chronic life stress such as finances, work stress, relationships.. then throw in a global pandemic... you get the drift. 

An adaptogen, and specifically Withania, can help to improve your stress adaptation response. It does this through various mechanisms including balancing stress hormones, supporting the pituitary and adrenal glands and more. Very helpful for patients who are feeling physically or mentally exhausted, emotionally stressed or during times of convalescence. 

Immune Enhancing and Anticancer Benefits

At MIOG, we are very interested in the anticancer and immune enhancing benefits of Withania. In vivo studies have demonstrated that Withania can increase white blood cell, platelet, lymphocyte and neutrophil counts, which as often suppressed as a result of cancer treatment. It also has been shown to reduce tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and to inhibit the growth of human cancer cell lines. Research is also showing that Withania may play a role in inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death) of cancer cells in cervical and breast cancer, as well as bowel and lung cancer. Other research shows it may reduce side effects and enhance the outcomes of certain selected drug treatments. 

The anticancer benefits of Withania are remarkable and continue to be researched.  


Herbal medicines are very powerful and can have a profound impact on the body's physiology, in particular detoxification processes. The number one priority when using Complementary Medicines for integrative care is to ensure there are no negative impacts on your current cancer treatment. Always speak to an experienced Naturopath when combining herbal supplements with conventional treatment.

How we use Withania

Like many Western Herbs, there is ongoing research into the benefits of Withania. At MIOG, we are passionate about using the latest evidence based research and information to improve outcomes, reduce side effects of treatment and in general, to help you to feel your best. We may use Withania in your liquid herb mix or as a tablet supplement, either during treatment (if safe to do so), in between cycles or after treatment has concluded.

Want to know if Withania is suited to you? Talk to our Naturopaths Tanya or Shala today to see if a herbal mix might be right for you. 


About the Author: MIOG support team

At MIOG, all staff are qualified practitioners, including our valued receptionists and administration support team. With Bachelors of Health Science in either Naturopathy or Nutritional Medicine, the team are educated and experienced, with valuable insight into nutritional, herbal, and lifestyle interventions for oncology care.

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