Animal and test-tube studies have found that withaferin — a compound in ashwagandha — helps induce apoptosis, which is the programmed death of cancer cells.
In a study, molecular targets and mechanisms of cancer prevention and treatment was further investigated.
The study said: “The plants used in Ayurvedic medicine, which has been practised in India for thousands of years for the treatment of a variety of disorders, are rich in chemicals potentially useful for prevention and treatment of cancer.
“Withania somnifera (commonly known as Ashwagandha in Ayurvedic medicine) is one such medicinal plant whose anticancer value was realized over four decades ago after isolation of a crystalline steroidal compound (withaferin A) from the leaves of this shrub.
“The root and leaf extracts of W. somnifera are shown to confer protection against chemically-induced cancers in experimental rodents, and retard tumor xenograft growth in athymic mice.