Strokes cause brain injury in millions of people every year. In addition to known stroke-sufferers, many people experience "silent brain infarcts" (SBI). A person who suffers an SBI will never know it--the brain slowly loses function in a small area where blood flow is occluded. There is currently no approved therapy that can reduce the size of these infarcts or decrease the neurological problems associated with them. With that in mind, researches recently set out to see whether an herbal medicine called Withania somnifera, popularly known as Ashwaghanda, could protect rats from stroke.
The test rats were given Ashwaghanda for 15 to 30 days. The researchers then plugged up a major brain artery for 2 hours, after which they unplugged the artery. The rats that had a 30 day pretreatment had nearly 50% less damage than the rats with only 15 days of treatment! In a human this could mean the difference between being able to walk or use an arm after a stroke.
In the average aging American this could mean the difference between remembering a grandchild's name and not. There are no known side-effects or drug interactions, so it can be taken by people on medication who are at high risk for stroke. I recommend 1-2 grams 2 times per day.
Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2003 May-Jun;30(5-6):399-404.