Are you really buying Withania root extract?

Are you really buying Withania root extract?

Some extracts claim to be Withania root just because they're standardized to contain Withanolides—but these marker compounds are also in the leaves. Here's how to know you're getting what you pay for.

Withania somnifera (L.) Duna, also known as Ashwagandha, Indian ginseng or winter cherry, has been an important herb in the Ayurveda for more than 3,000 years. Ashwagandha consists of dried mature roots containing withanolides, used as Rasayana, Vitakaphipaha and Balya.

Presently in the market, extract of Ashwagandha is available at different prices (few are priced exceptionally high while others are priced low). What causes so much difference in the price?

Formulators in the nutraceutical and dietary supplement industry may end up paying for an extract, which is claimed to be Withania root extracts just because it is standardized to contain Withanolides. These marker compounds are also present in the leaves of Ashwagandha plant.

Why should you ensure if it is root or leaf extract? The reasons for you to consider are a) Withania roots (and not leaves) are traditionally used in Ayurveda, B) Withania root (and not leaves) is included in WHO monographs, United States Pharmacopoeia, British Pharmacopoeia, Health Canada, Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India and Indian Pharmacopoeia and c) Use of leaf extract or a mixture of leaf and root extract and claiming it as Withania root extract will amount to wrong identification and labeling as per Good Manufacturing Practice.

To provide a solution, scientists of Natural Remedies in Bangalore, India, have identified few compounds that are unique to Withania leaf. These compounds can be used to detect adulteration by extract derived from leaves, using HPLC. This has been elaborated in a recently published article titled “Development and Validation of High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) Method for Simultaneous Estimation of Flavonoid Glycosides in Withania somnifera Aerial Parts”, in ISRN Analytical Chemistry, Volume 2014, Article ID 35154. Ask for publication or for more details, visit us in SSW Las Vegas 2014, booth #23125.


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