Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Withania somnifera (ashwagandha): a review.
Mishra LC, Singh BB, Dagenais S.
Los Angeles College of Chiropractic (LACC), 16200 E Amber Valley Dr., Whittier, CA 90609-1166. lakshmimishra@
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this paper is to review the literature regarding Withania somnifera (ashwagandha, WS) a commonly used herb in Ayurvedic medicine. Specifically, the literature was reviewed for articles pertaining to chemical properties, therapeutic benefits, and toxicity. DESIGN: This review is in a narrative format and consists of all publications relevant to ashwagandha that were identified by the authors through a systematic search of major computerized medical databases; no statistical pooling of results or evaluation of the quality of the studies was performed due to the widely different methods employed by each study. RESULTS: Studies indicate ashwagandha possesses anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antistress, antioxidant, immunomodulatory, hemopoietic, and rejuvenating properties. It also appears to exert a positive influence on the endocrine, cardiopulmonary, and central nervous systems. The mechanisms of action for these properties are not fully understood. Toxicity studies reveal that ashwagandha appears to be a safe compound. CONCLUSION: Preliminary studies have found various constituents of ashwagandha exhibit a variety of therapeutic effects with little or no associated toxicity . These results are very encouraging and indicate this herb should be studied more extensively to confirm these results and reveal other potential therapeutic effects. Clinical trials using ashwagandha for a variety of conditions should also be conducted.
MAOIs started off due to the serendipitous discovery that iproniazid was a potent MAO inhibitor (MAOI).  Originally intended for the treatment of tuberculosis, in 1952, iproniazid's antidepressant properties were discovered when researchers noted that the depressed patients given iproniazid experienced a relief of their depression. Subsequent in vitro work led to the discovery that it inhibited MAO and eventually to the monoamine theory of depression . MAOIs became widely used as antidepressants in the early 1950s. The discovery of the 2 isoenzymes of MAO has led to the development of selective MAOIs that may have a more favorable side-effect profile.