New Delhi—The Government of India is advising industry stakeholders to refrain from using Ashwagandha (Withania somnjfera)leaves in their products, including food/dietary supplements). The advisory was written by Dr. Anand T. Gudivada with the Ministry of AYUSH, which is considered to be the authority on Ayurveda, overseeing the Ayurvedic industry and practices. The advisory outlines several reasons for its recommendations, including:
  • Aswagandha root is widely used drug in Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani (ASU) systems of medicine since ancient period.
  • These systems use roots of the plant in different single and compound formulations, and the use of leaves of Withania somnfera has not been reported in classical texts of ASU systems of medicine.
  • Some OTC formulations of Withania somnfera leaves are on the market "but neither their safety and efficacy is vividly studied nor reported in ASU classical texts."
The conclusion reached by the Ministry of AYUSH: "No substantial evidence and literature is available to endorse the efficacy of crude drug/extract ofWithania somnferaleaves. Considering this, it would not be appropriate to consider the Withania somnferaleaves as ASU medicine at this stage."

Further, the advisory stated that extensive studies are required to establish the safety and efficacy of leaves for different indications, adding, "Till then, the usage of leaves may not be considered for therapeutic purpose in ASU systems."

Taking background of available textual/literature evidences, Dr. Gudivada wrote, "it is advised that the manufacturers of the crude drug/extracts, sellers, ASU drug manufacturing companies, ASU drug exporters not to useWithania somnjferaleaves either in crude or extract or any other form for therapeutic purposes under the ambit of ASU drugs as per textual indications or as a food supplements in the name of ASU drugs."